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.
Due to scruples contained within Islamic texts it is forbidden to depict living creatures such as humans or animals. This has not however stopped the Islamic world from developing its own very distinctive and beautiful forms of art, indeed many of the forms and shapes expressed within the realms of Islamic art certainly have benefited from these cultural directives. One has simply to look at any mosque found anywhere in the world to appreciate the beauty that can be found in Islamic calligraphy and tessellation. Marrakech is one such place where these sights can be found in abundance and great variation, within the Medina. Any number of the great landmarks that are to be found within the Medina can be seen to display such magnificent pieces.
A real Moroccon experience can be greatly enriched by taking in such wonders, which are to be found all over the old town. Luckily this is all within short walking distance of our wonderful Riad Cinnamon