International Calligraphy Fest in Kochi sheds light on the lesser known art form

The festival programmes include exhibitions, workshops, talks, discussions, live demo and quiz on calligraphy. Photo: Manorama

Kochi: Durbar Hall smells of ink these days and letters in languages of the world float all around the art hub as the city is hosting the first International Calligraphy Festival of Kerala (ICFK). The four-day event, which started on October 2, celebrates the art of beautiful writing with reputed calligraphers from different parts of the world flying down to Kochi, showcasing their works and sharing knowledge.

State Industries Minister P Rajeeve viewing the exhibition after inaugurating the event, while Narayana Bhattathiri, founder of KaChaTaThaPa looks on. Photo | Special arrangement

Thiruvananthapuram-based KaChaTaThaPa Foundation is organising the event in association with the Information and Public Relations Department, Kerala; and Kerala Lalithakala Akademi. The participants include artists from France, Germany, Iran and Vietnam. Sixteen reputed calligraphers from across the country are also attend the event.

The festival programmes include exhibitions, workshops, talks, discussions, live demo and quiz on calligraphy. State Industries Minister P Rajeeve inaugurated the fest on Monday. Calligraphy works in various Indian languages, Hebrew, Chinese, Arabic and Persian are on display at the expo being held as part of the fest.

Narayana Bhattathiri, founder of KaChaTaThaPa and arguably the most known calligrapher in Malayalam, said the event has been organised with the aim of giving the much-needed uplift to the artform which is yet to find popular attention in Kerala. Asked why it took so much time to organise an international calligraphy event in Kerala, Bhattathiri said, “Because there is no calligraphy in Kerala. It’s difficult to organise such an event in a place where the art form hardly exists.”

Bhattathiri had organised two national calligraphy meets in Thiruvananthapuram in 2019 and 2022. He planned the international event this time eyeing more exposure to the less popular art form. The international artists participating in the event include Kim Jin-Young from Korea who is the Vice President of the Asian Calligraphy Association, Masoud Mohebbi Far from Iran, and Michel D’Anastasio from France.

Iranian artist Masoud’s works featuring poems by legendary Persian poet Hafez Shirazi are among the major attractions of the expo. He said his aim is to let the world know the power of Iranian art. The Indian artists in the line-up include calligraphy master Achyut Palav, Ashok namdeo Hinge, Ashok Parab, K C Janaradhanan, Qamar Dagar, Reghunita Gupta and Shipra Rohtagi. D Udayakumar, the IIT-Guwahati professor who designed the new Indian Rupee symbol, is also attending the event.

Udayakumar said calligraphy is an artform which offers immense scope and it can be a great source of income too. “Many are still unaware of what calligraphy is. Calligraphy originated in China and it got developed into an artform in countries like Japan, Korea and Arabian countries. In India, calligraphy started in Devnagari script. The events like the Kochi fest will take the art form to more and more people,” he said. Bhattathiri said KaChaTaThaPa has plans to organise the event in Kochi annually. The festival will conclude on Thursday.

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