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Calligraphy, Illumination and Miniature Exhibition
30 November 2006

by Dr. Mozammel Haque

The Calligraphy, Illumination and Miniature Exhibition, jointly sponsored by the Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Iran in UK and the Islamic Cultural Centre (ICC) & The Regents' Park Central Mosque, London, was inaugurated by the Ambassador of the Islamic Republic of Iran, His Excellency Mr. Rasoul Movahedian, on Thursday, 30th of November, 2006 at the Islamic Cultural Centre: "Today, I am delighted to inaugurate this Calligraphy, Illumination and Miniature Exhibition which will be opened to the public for a couple of days - an exhibition which will truly bring a magnificent works of two masters of these fields to our eyes. Indeed it is a drop in the sea of Persian arts and creativity."

The Iranian Ambassador spoke about the glorious history of Iranian arts. "Throughout the history of my country both the pre-Islamic and Islamic era, Iranians have showed their expertise in different arts such as poetry, tiles and ceramics, stone-cuttings, glass glowing, metal working and embossing, carpet paintings, buildings, sculptures, architecture, music and so on." He also mentioned about handicrafts which are always made in villages and cities in Iran

Speaking about calligraphy, Mr. Movahedian said, "The art of calligraphy in Iran has a long history. This history includes the opposition of writing in Iran and its process of evolution from the ancient times till the Islamic period and from the Islamic period up to the present time."

Talking about the Islamic period of Iran, the Iranian Ambassador said, "Iranian calligraphers paid attention to the Holy Book of Qur'an al-Kareem and attempted to write and decorated skillfully. As a consequence, many rear and moral manuscripts of the Holy Qur'an and the works of great Iranian scholars have been remained the portrait and important development of arts of calligraphy. Some of the most invaluable hand-written books of Iran with leather-bindings are being kept in the Metropolitan Museum, the National Library of Paris and in some private collections as well."

Mentioning about the great art and poetry works, Mr. Movahedian said, "Writing is considered a tool for comprehension of a context all over the world. But in Iran, writings have made its way of becoming a medium of art. Illuminations and specially the Holy Qur'an and Persian poetry works such as Shahnama, Diwane Hafez, Gulistan Bushtan and Iran Nizami are recognized as highly invaluable because of their dedicated calligraphy alone. Large quantities of these arts scattered and preserved in museums and private collections worldwide such as the State Hermitage Museum of St. Petersburg in Russia, Washington Preparatory of Arts and British Museum here in London, among many others. This calligraphy port shows the Iranian artists are almost unparallel in the world in creating beauty writings."

The Ambassador also spoke about Dark Illumination which "has also had a great role in decorating these leather-covers. What is more, Iranian miniature is one of the most privileged arts in the world of creativity and it has created and developed by Iranians."

Earlier, Dr. Ahmed al-Dubayan, the Director-General of the Islamic Cultural Centre, in his introductory speech, expressed his thanks to His Excellency the Ambassador of the Islamic Republic of Iran, for his efforts done today. Dr. Dubayan also extended his thanks to Dr. Ali Mohammad Helmi, the Cultural Attach of the Iranian Embassy, Nasrollah Afjei, the calligrapher and Alireza Saadatmand, the miniaturist. The exhibition calligraphy and miniature works was on display from 30th November to 2nd December 2006 at the Islamic Cultural Centre, London.

Speaking about the Islamic arts of Iran, Dr. al-Dubayan said, "Iran has played a great role in the history of Islamic civilization and it has played a great role in the history of Islamic arts."

Dr. al-Dubayan also said, "Of course, we all know that all the art schools, the Islamic art is always the centre of the motivation and the beginning of the Qur'an as a holy book and the holy revelation from Allah the Almighty. You will always find Islamic art doing around the Qur'an, either this is calligraphy or building or whatever it is. Muslim painters or calligraphers always find the Qur'an as a source for knowledge and for inspiration."

"Islamic art is one of the most important approaches to understand Islam and to understand the standard of Islamic civilization," Dr. Al-Dubayan believed but he lamented, "Unfortunately this approach in many works and activities is really ignored or forgotten."

Speaking about the influence of Islamic art, Dr. al-Dubayan said, "I myself know many new Muslims in Germany, France and here also, they came to know Islam, they became Muslims because of arts. They started with given some attention more to Islamic art and this art led them to the greatness of Islamic civilization. It led them to the spiritual atmosphere of Islamic civilization. That was the beginning and after sometime that led to the history of Islam and till then they became Muslims."

Dr. al-Dubayan emphasized that one of the approaches that we really have to use now to display Islam, exhibit Islam and explain Islam to the non-Muslims especially in the West is through Islamic art. It is really very very important."

Speaking about the Exhibition, Dr. al-Dubayan said, "This is actually a production of the Islamic Iranian School of arts which we are seeing today. This is actually just an example. But it does not give a whole and complete idea about the school. This is really a very rich school. I am calling everybody to read about this."

Dr. al-Dubayan also called everybody to "read about all these techniques and all these branches of arts which Iranian inherited. Iran also succeeded also to keep many of the lost techniques, may be, still alive there; for example, the ink itself. Ink was always a problem for calligraphy. There is a special technique, special thing to be used for the ink Many of these techniques are lost in some of the Muslim world. But they are still kept alive in Iran and this is one of the characteristics of the Islamic world that if something is lost somewhere, it is kept alive in other region," al-Dubayan said.

Speaking about the marvelous works done in the field of Islamic art in Iran, Dr. Al-Dubayan said, "When we talk about the marvelous works of Islamic art, who can forget the famous name of Asadullah Shirazi, Ali Harawi, Mir Imadul Hasani and Buhzad in his remarkable works and recently Ameer Khan of today."