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Colours of Calligraphy

Afghanistan has a rich heritage in calligraphy. In the 15th century, the capital of the Timurid Empire, Herat, was the centre of the finest manuscript production in the Islamic world. These manuscripts were often written in elaborate forms of calligraphic scripts, at times accompanied by illuminations and miniature paintings. A few examples, created by the outstanding artists of the time, are kept at the National Museum of Afghanistan.  
Through the following centuries this art form gradually declined; however, it did not entirely disappear. More recently, it has to some extent been revived, in the face of all adversity. New generations of skilled calligraphic artists have emerged, continuing the ancient traditions but at the same trying new forms of expression that reflect life in Afghanistan today. 

One of these artists is Ali Baba Owrang. He has been interested in calligraphy and drawing as far as he remembers. As a little boy, he used to fill the margins of his school books with images of everyday life in Afghanistan. But these were not the innocent pictures that children usually draw. They were images of tanks, guns and airplanes dropping bombs, all of which were a regular occurrence during the turbulent years of war.

Ali Baba Owrang later went to Iran, where he spent nine years studying calligraphy and graphics under renowned Masters. His return to Afghanistan coincided with the rule of the Taliban who despised arts in general and banned the depiction of any image in particular. However, this did not dampen his enthusiasm and he continued to refine his style which is an attractive fusion of calligraphy and colour, pattern and painting.

In this multimedia report, Ali Baba Owrang tells us his story whilst showing us some of his striking artwork.

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