Calligraphy is an ancient art that utilizes script and creative brush strokes. It's been long used as a way to express thoughts, desires and feelings, and many people in the Western world use the technique to give letters, cards and documents an elegant flourish. However, one calligraphy artist is using the art for a charitable cause.
According to The News International, Abdul Rasheed is a self-taught painter out of Karachi, Pakistan, who has contributed his work to a fundraising effort to collect money for the Indus Hospital. He had more than 75 calligraphic pieces hanging in the art gallery of the Sheraton Hotel, where guests could purchase. All proceeds go to the hospital, which provides free medical services to poor people in the area.
This isn't the first time Rasheed has used the calligraphy alphabet to raise money for a good cause. In 2005, he contributed to a fundraiser for victims of the Kashmir earthquake. His paintings, which feature sweeping images, versus from the Quran and names of gods, have gained Rasheed international renown and provided a financial boost for various community organizations.
Calligraphy is a unique art form that embraces the beauty of the alphabet and grace of the brush stroke. Many people apply this ancient technique to more modern mediums, like contemporary painting and sculpture. But a group of performance artists are taking things a step further and incorporating calligraphy into dance.
According to CCTV-9, the Hong Kong Dance Company is putting on a show entitled "Spring Ritual Eulogy" that is comprised of dance interpretations of famous works of calligraphy. The group takes the stage at Beijing's National Centre for the Performing Arts to give audiences a modern stage dance experience combined with a taste of tradition. It looks at the delicate relationship between words and abstraction with graceful, flowing body movements set to the tune of classical Chinese music.
The show features two main dances based on the works of renowned masters of the calligraphy alphabet. One piece is "Preface to the Orchid Pavilion," which was created by patron saint of calligraphy Wang Xizhi 1,700 years ago. The other work is by Yan Zhenqing, who lived during the Tang Dynasty. He created "Eulogy for a Nephew" after his nephew was killed while fighting against a rebellion. This intriguing dance show won the Hong Kong Dance Award in 2013.
To many, calligraphy is a dying art form. The Japanese tradition has, particularly in the age of the Internet, been pushed to the wayside in favor of computerized fonts and graphic design. But a professor at Tokyo's Keio University is using the tools of the digital age to help revive and teach this ancient visual art.
Seiichiro Katsura invented a robot that writes like a seasoned calligrapher and teaches children to do the same. The intricate art form generally takes years of training, patience and discipline to master, but this robot aims to instill knowledge of the calligraphy alphabet and techniques in school kids more quickly and efficiently.
The robot, which paints using a mechanical arm, guides the student's hand to help him or her create characters, much like an actual master would when teaching calligraphy. It has been uploaded with the skills of master calligrapher Juho Sado – it can emulate his brush strokes and wrist movements to create thousands of Kanji characters. The robot Katsura explains to Fox News that the goal is to keep this dying art form alive.
"The teaching of calligraphy is all but lost so I thought I could forever preserve the art of our great masters on the robot's memory," Katsura said.
The art of calligraphy has been used throughout Asian culture, from Korea to Islam, for thousands of years to express the human spirit. Though ancient, this art form is not outdated. Modern-day artists are applying their fresh techniques to keep calligraphy alive by mixing pop culture motifs with the time-honored aesthetic tradition.
One interesting case of this phenomenon can be found in the fashion of Louis Vuitton. The French fashion house commissioned designers to add some cultural clash to its new clothing line. One Franco-Tunisian artist incorporated Arabic calligraphy featuring harmonious swirls into the pattern of the label's monogram.
At the Ejaz Art gallery in Pakistan, works by more than 30 artists combined traditional calligraphy alphabets, like Lahori nastaliq, suls and nasakh, with 21st century techniques to create avant-garde masterpieces. One artist, for instance, used nastaliq calligraphy to paint the names of Allah within the images of his oil-on-canvas portrait.
Calligraphy exhibitions like this one have been popping up all across the world. Many are focused on Islamic forms of the art, as Ramadan is in full swing. Such initiatives are essential in keeping the age-old tradition a valuable component of the art world and of Eastern life, particularly in the digital age.
The people of Earth are slowly starting to realize that their planet is a living ecosystem that requires care and respect. This is seen in the "green movement," which is currently trying to get large corporations and governments to stop polluting and to find more sustainable ways to function.
However, one phrase in the Korean calligraphy alphabet suggests that people may still have a long way to go in understanding the true depth of the Earth’s inner nature.
The phrase Chun-ji-ma-eum refers to the "cosmic mind" that fills everything. This force created everything that exists in the universe, and it fills all living and breathing organisms with a special type of energy.
It is also present in the Earth itself. It is from our home planet that the people of Earth get life energy. This force flows through the streams of the planet and blows through the air like the wind itself. In this way, it touches every single plant, animal and person.
Without this essential energy, life on Earth almost certainly would not be possible. There would be no source of spiritual sustenance. Our lives would be hollow, short and difficult, if not completely impossible.
This is why it is important for individuals to understand the central role the Earth plays in their lives. It is far more than a foundation upon which to build a life. It is a living, breathing organism that nurtures everyone and provides for their needs.
While the current green movement has begun to realize (from a scientific standpoint, at least) the importance of protecting the Earth, its role in personal growth goals and happiness may still not be fully understood. Recognizing this fact could play a vital part in the future of the human species.
One of the most important things for individuals – especially those who are looking to grow as a person – to keep in mind is what makes them special. The Korean calligraphy alphabet has one saying in particular that addresses this.
The phrase "chun-ji-in" refers to the three aspects of humanity that separate the species from all others walking the Earth. The first part, "chun," translates to heaven or sky. It is included in the phrase to remind individuals that they are part spiritual beings and that they should keep their hearts open to high aspirations.
Secondly, "ji" refers to the Earth or land. We are all terrestrial beings, and this connection to nature should be considered a basis for all of our activities and motivations. Without a connection to the ground we walk on, our lives would have no foundation, and therefore would fall apart.
Finally, "in," with its reference to humanity, reminds individuals that the two previous elements come together in humans to form something very special. Neither the spiritual or the earthly should be given precedence in an individual’s personal growth plan. Both aspects of humanity are equally important.
These are important concepts to remember, as in life it is easy to be carried away too far in one direction. Often, people allow their sensual pleasures to consume their mind, or they get carried away with dwelling on their own imaginings. While a certain amount of either is beneficial, too much of anything is never good.
Therefore, individuals who are pursuing a personal growth plan should keep in mind that they are equal parts spiritual and terrestrial. Working to develop both aspects of their nature may be important to developing as a complete human.