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A couple of years back, on a visit to India, we visited a couple of palaces in and around Jaipur, Rajasthan. Exhibits in the palaces date back to the Moghul era. Personally, I was awed by the  skill and style of the calligraphers. (Prior to that I had taken a few classes in English Calligraphy and also practice it sometimes.) So, when I read this news clip, there was a tinge of sadness that we are losing this creative art to ‘technology’.

Calligraphy, is an art widely admired for its beauty, and the skill and creativity required of the artist. But khatati or the fine art of Urdu calligraphy is in danger of dying out in India, because there is little work for more than 30000 calligraphers.

Words are transformed into art masterpieces using a reed pen (Qalam in Urdu) and ink (Siyahi in Urdu) . Widely circulated Urdu newspapers attracted the best talents, as these designs for the defining feature of Urdu dailies.

 But the computer’s takeover of page-making in recent years in dailies and weeklies has meant that the fluid, stylish and pleasing alphabets now have a monotonous uniformity. The onslaught of computerized Urdu typesetting has also put the career of many calligraphers in jeopardy.

Some editors however do feel that digitizing calligraphy is a good thing.

Hasan Shuja, editor of an Urdu daily, Sahafat, says computers are better as they can do what calligraphers cannot. “If the other language newspapers are going the computer way, why not Urdu?” he asks.

Read more here.

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