PULWAMA: Even as the rapid advancement of technology makes people’s lives easier across the globe, on the flip side, it has rendered handmade art and craft obsolete, snatching people’s livelihoods from them.

In Kashmir, however, there has been a recent revival of traditional arts and crafts - facilitated by the lockdown that followed the abrogation of special status to Jammu and Kashmir, and then the coronavirus pandemic. Many youth, stuck indoors, took to calligraphy and other artwork in many parts - particularly in the Kashmir valley.

Calligraphy work in Kashmir these days is being noticed, as youngsters, particularly girls, in every nook and corner here have been showing overwhelming interest in the artform ever since the lockdown was first imposed.

Across Kashmir, young calligraphers are exhibiting their beautiful calligraphy artwork on different platforms of social media, thereby inspiring others to take part in it and contributing to a revival of sorts.

Nayyer Iqbal, a young girl from Tral in South Kashmir who is the author of the book "Belief", has been experimenting with calligraphy work for months now, besides writing. She has been inclined towards the arts since she was 'six years' old, she says.

Iqbal told The Citizen that she recently watched a calligraphy video on social media that fascinated her, and following which she tried her hand at calligraphy.

She said that she has learned a lot while working on projects pertaining to calligraphy art, and has spent much of her time in learning and improving on this artform during the covid-19 lockdown.

"Recently I made some customised frames on my customers' request. I always learn something whenever I complete a project. New ideas strike my mind about how I can make my next projects better and more beautiful,” Iqbal said. “As I said I've started calligraphy in lockdown so I didn't find anyone who could help me with learning nor did I find any video on youtube that could actually help, so I started on my own and tried imitating some already made projects," she explained, adding that she made mistakes the first time she tried calligraphy but she, "has practiced a lot and [is] doing better with the help of Allah."

"I find myself at peace when I do calligraphy and I'm quite sure it would prove of much use for others as well," she said.

Rani Meesaqun Nabi (21), a calligrapher from Batagund village of Pulwama is busy these days making calligraphy frames for her customers, as she has been uploading her work on social media, and is getting a good response.

Meesaqun is a self taught calligrapher who is pursuing Bachelor of Unani Medicine & Surgery at Srinagar. She developed an interest in art when she was a child, as her father was an artist apart from being a teacher.

She said that the reason behind her creative hand is her father's inspiration and interest for drawing and crafting; he encouraged her from early on.

"My father Nisar Ahmad Sheikh was an artist, established poet, and equally good at hand art such as calligraphy and paper mache. After his death a few years back, I explored his art through his works and felt inspired to stand up to the legacy of my father. So, I decided to take up his style of calligraphy art and pledged that I will not let his art die with him. That's how it all started in the first place," Meesaqun told The Citizen.

She said that she has recently completed some on demand calligraphy orders, like customised paper mache cups with inscribed names in calligraphy.

"I used to post my works on social media due to which I encountered something very unexpected. People have been requesting me to make custom artworks for them and I consequently decided to take up some limited orders. Also, I am working on a few other works such as the 'Chaar Qul', Sand Calligraphy which are yet to be completed," she said.

Another young calligrapher, Mir Afreen, who was born and raised in Srinagar, and is currently pursuing MBBS from SKIMS Medical college, said that she was passionate about art since her childhood. She said that she used to participate in almost all the local art competitions and has won many of them.

When asked about her calligraphy work, Afreen said that she is a self taught calligrapher and has not received any training so far, as she doesn’t “get a lot of time during MBBS but is still managing to take out some time for art” which she spends doing calligraphy.

"During these quarantine days, I have made a lot of customised calligraphy and sold them. I am still an amateur calligrapher and look forward to improvement and being of the best ones," Afreen said, adding that she finds the artform a way to get closer to God.

Afreen said that she makes at least one artwork daily to ensure that her calligraphy skills remain sharp. She says that the authorities need to do more to promote the artform in Kashmir.

On social media, a beautiful calligraphy work of another Srinagar girl, Safura Hameed, was widely shared. Hameed, as per the local news outlets has "taken her passion for calligraphy to another level, after taking the calligraphy art to 3D mode."

A scroll through Instagram reveals a number of calligraphy works, made by young Kashmiris, that are being appreciated and widely shared. While it is mainly young women taking to the art form, men are not far behind.

A youth namely Mudasir Rehman Dar, from Kulpora Kulgam district in Kashmir, is a renowned abstract painter, who is known for his creative paintings and has made an impression with his artwork.

Talking to The Citizen, the Dar said that he has even made the Holy Kabbah on ring stone and a leaf, following which he received appreciation and awards from many outlets.

He said that he is doing a creative abstract painting and is spreading messages about nature, culture, world peace, drug addiction, social injustices and evils.

The artist however rued that nobody from the administration is coming forward to help him in propagating this art.