Mais do que o fim da imprensa, o fim da caligrafia? Segundo a Wired ainda há pelo menos um jornal na Índia a ser inteiramente produzido à mão – “the handcrafted The Musalman daily newspaper… Urdu is sweeter when written by hand”.

Here in the shadow of the Wallajah Mosque, a team of six puts out this hand-penned paper. Four of them are katibs — writers dedicated to the ancient art of Urdu calligraphy. It takes three hours using a pen, ink and ruler to transform a sheet of paper into news and art.

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“I understand Urdu, but have no interest in calligraphy,” Nasarulla said. “There is no practical reason we have not gone to computers. If my father asks me to take over I will take over, but there will be changes.”

But when British colonizers swept across India importing printing presses and English, Urdu ceased to be the official court language. It was spoken primarily by the Muslim community, but katibs could still make a living because no Urdu typeface existed.

“The real masters are all dead, or they are so old that they are blind and their hands won’t work anymore,” Fazlulla said.

The paper’s popularity may not be enough to save the handwritten calligraphy tradition when the last of the katibs retires. Fazlulla worries what the digital revolution might mean for the future of his paper and his brand of calligraphy.

Author: Pedro Amado

Professor Auxiliar na Faculdade de Belas Artes Universidade do Porto lecionar Ferramentas Digitais, Web Design, Design de Interação e Creative Coding

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