The Language of the Hand: Poetic Imagery in Arabic Calligraphy

The art of calligraphy, or of beautiful writing, plays a very special role in the Islamicate world.  Seen as the highest means of artistic expression, it is considered the vehicle through which sacred scripture is transmitted and preserved, as well as poetry, wise sayings and knowledge.  However, beyond this role as a conveyor of textual meaning, calligraphy transmits through form. Throughout the centuries, from Andalousian Spain to the Far East, the aesthetics of the Arabic letterforms have inspired poets to weave an elaborate visual imagery around the practice of this art, including numerous analogies between the morphology of letters and parts of the human body. Through a selection of poems, wise sayings, and visuals, this lecture aims to provide a window into the beauty of this living art form through the poetic imaginary.

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Nuria Garcia Masip arabic calligraphy artist
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Born in 1978 in Ibiza, Spain, Nuria Garcia Masip grew up between Spain and the USA. In 1999, after completing her university studies in literature and philosophy, she traveled to Morocco where she developed an interest in Islamic art. She then returned to Washington D.C. where studied the rik’asülüs, and nesih scripts with master calligrapher Mohamed Zakariya, and later to Istanbul, where she continued to study the sülüs, and nesih scripts with masters Hasan Çelebi, and Davut BektaÅŸ. In 2007, she received her diploma (ijazah) in these two scripts, signed by her three teachers.

Nuria holds a Masters in Art History from Sorbonne University where she is currently working on her doctoral degree. Her calligraphic works have won prestigious prizes in international calligraphy competitions and form part of various private and museum collections. She has also organised numerous workshops and conferences on this art to promote the art of calligraphy internationally. Her work is firmly rooted in the classical school of calligraphy and she enjoys preserving the techniques and materials of the tradition. 

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