Visual treat of Indian handicrafts and calligraphy in Cairo

Cairo, April 18 (IANS) A unique exhibition of visual arts showcasing the rich cultural heritage of Indian scripts has been unspooled at the Hanager Arts Centre in this Egyptian capital.

The exhibition – Akshara, Crafting Indian Scripts – showcases India’s great written heritage by focusing on calligraphy through craft forms in multi-faceted ways by linking the art of calligraphy and design creating a new repertoire of designs that incorporates the ancient with the contemporary.

Handcrafted applications of scripts on metal, carved and inlaid wood, clay, stone, pottery and stone ware, papier mache, a range of embroidered and woven textiles, and different areas of traditional art like paper cut, shibori, hand block printing, and a variety of lesser known forms of folk art were on display.

Akshara exhibits over 100 museum-quality pieces created by the nonprofit national association of crafts people, Dastkari Haat Samiti. Its team has worked with 60 producer-groups or individuals in 14 official Indian languages and scripts, using 21 different craft, textile and art forms, covering 16 states of India in what is a really unique and innovative attempt unseen till now.

Organised by the Indian embassy in collaboration with Teamwork productions, the exhibition is presented by TCI Sanmar chemicals SAE, the largest Indian investor in Egypt. The main sponsors of the event are the Kirloskars, the Aditya Birla Group and the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR).

An art film, Aksharakaram, combining classical movements in dance with calligraphy with well-known dancers Navtej Johar and Justin McCarthy and calligrapher Rajeev Kumar is being shown as part of the exhibition.

The inaugural of the exhibition April 15 witnessed a combined calligraphy by Dr. Salah Abdel Khalid and Rajeev Kumar, who produced a stunning piece of art to the singing of an Indian hymn by Mukesh Tomar.

“The focus on India by the Nile Festival is on forging meaningful and sustainable collaborations between India and Egypt in the field of arts and crafts. The canvas produced jointly by an Indian and Egyptian calligrapher is an example of this,” said Navdeep Suri, Ambassador of India.

Mohamed El Bergini, an icon of Egyptian calligraphy, and Jaya Jaitley, founder of Dastkari Haat Samiti, were among the dignitaries present.

Jaitley will also be sharing her extensive experience with Dr. Heba Handoussa and the Egypt Network for Integral Development (ENID) and with different groups of Egyptian artisans.

“I am sure that this will create a strong platform for sharing of skills and experiences in the development of handicrafts, which are such an important source of livelihood for millions of Indians,” said she.

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