An exhibition showcasing Islamic calligraphy by a renowned Chinese artist is on display at Gallery 6 in Islamabad. Comprising 27 calligraphic works, the exhibition titled “Revered calligraphy by Chinese” displays rare collection of art by Asad Raza, a US-based collector and consultant on Islamic Arts.
Many art pieces on the display are the works of leading Chinese Muslim calligrapher Haji Abdul Hakim, whose Chinese name is Haji Liu Jingyi. The calligraphy frames vary in sizes from small to very large sizes and have silk borders in different colours – white, yellow, green and red.
“Hakim, in his works uses Arabic calligraphy combined with the translation of the Arabic text into Chinese, which distinguishes and makes him different from most other Chinese Muslim calligraphers” says Arjumand Faisel, curator of the gallery.
Hakim’s distinct style of writing Arabic calligraphy with a hint of typical Chinese style earned him international appreciation and promoted this distinctive style in the global art world. In his artworks, he employs dry ink to maintain the flying white effect, while the harp semi triangular, clear cut tips of his vertical letters are indications of the use of the reed pen. He uses a brush to write the Chinese translation of the text, along with his signature. Another hint of Chinese style is his use of the scroll and couplet format in his works, which is an indication of his early education in the Chinese calligraphic tradition.
In his artworks, he has used several well-established Chinese scripts such as the rough and strong DaKai style, the rounder in form, plump and graceful Zhong kai style, and the Xiao kai style, which is smooth as well as a variety of standard Arabic calligraphic scripts including the Thulth and Diwani.
Hakim, 85, chairs the Chifeng Islam Association and is the imam of the mosque of Chifeng. Being attracted to the art of calligraphy in childhood, he started studying Chinese calligraphy under the famous Chinese calligrapher Guo Zhenduo.
In addition, the gallery is also displaying some rare lithographs from Islamic Arts which include two reproductions of hand-coloured lithograph depicting the flooding of Haram Shareef in 1951 and efforts in handling the emergency, lithographs showing worshipers bowing down before the Almighty and offering namaz in 19th century, a miniature script in ‘Maghrebi’ script from the famous 17th century ‘Dalailul Khairat’, lithographs of Haj pilgrims approaching Mecca, by a Dutch lithographer, Marius Bauer, published in London in 1926.
Asad Raza, who has been collecting the artworks for the past three decades, said that his several trips to China and networking opportunities with prominent calligraphers and Chinese Islamic forums enabled him to compile the collection.