Calligraphy, known as Khatt in Arabic, is very much part of the Arab identity. On your trip to Marrakech, you will see that it is all around you: on shop signs, newspapers, books and advertising. It has become a way of communicating through art. We met up with Nour-Eddine Boukheir, a traditionally trained calligrapher, who revealed some of the secrets of this historic artistic practice.
Nour-Eddine Boukheir explained that calligraphy is often still taught in the traditional way; there is a master and pupil relationship. The apprentice learns with the master, who is part of a long line of calligraphers that goes back many centuries. He went on to explain that you first of all have to learn how to write single letters in the major style of script, before you graduate to learning phrases and techniques of joining these letters together. With so much to learn about the use of colour, the type of paper and ink, the marrying of text with theme and the size of lettering, mastering the art of calligraphy becomes a life-long process of discovery and practice.
Although there exists a plethora of regional styles and modern examples, Arabic calligraphy divides down into two main styles – Kufic and Naskh. Kufic is the oldest form of the Arabic script and was developed around the end of the 7th century. Although there are no set rules of using the Kufic script, the style emphasizes rigid and angular strokes. Due to the lack of a singular domineering method, the scripts often vary greatly in different regions and countries, ranging from very square and rigid forms to flowery and decorative.
In contrast, the Naskh script is highly disciplined, with systematic rules and proportions for shaping the letters. Noticeably more cursive and elegant, the Naskh script is perhaps the most ubiquitous style and is used in Qur’ans, official decrees, and private correspondence.
On your trip to Marrakech it is possible to find many examples of beautiful calligraphy: from the carvings at Ben Yousef Medersa, to the inscribed artisanal products offered in the souls, we are sure you will fall in love with this ancient craft.
Inaugurated on 19th of September 2001 by His Majesty King Mohammed VI, the Théâtre Royal de Marrakech has worked to secure the red city’s reputation as one of the major artistic and cultural focal points of the world. Inside it’s impressive 1200-seat open-air theatre and 800-seat opera house, the theatre hosts a variety of national and international cultural events including opera, ballet and musical performances. Although the majority of these performances are in Arabic or French, even if you are not gifted with the ability to speak either language the Royal Theatre still has a lot to offer. The entrance hall often houses a variety of painting, sculpture and photography exhibitions. Indeed, the impressive architecture alone is worth the visit.
Built by Tunisian architect Charles Boccara, the Royal Theatre combines the traditional aesthetic design of arabic architecture with traces of modern influence. The imposing dome and grand marble pillars provides an immediate sense of awe which is matched by the interior entrance hall and auditorium. This is a truly outstanding monument; it is easy to see how this building has become the pride and joy of the Marrakchis.
Located in the modern Guiliez quarter, across the road from the Marrakech central train station, our Riad staff are happy to help you find transport to the theatre and can even call ahead to inquire about which performances and exhibitions that are available during your stay.