Muhaqqaq: Furthering the Aesthetic of Faith.

Nassar Mansour

Dr. Nassar Mansour, who was visiting London teaching a special class in calligraphy at the Prince’s School of Traditional Arts, graciously consented to give a lecture on the 24th August  to the Society entitled Muhaqqaq: Furthering the Aesthetic of Faith. Dr. Mansour is a master calligrapher and is one of the most accomplished contemporary calligraphers in the Arab world. He obtained his diploma (ijazah) from the Turkish calligraphy master Hasan Çelebi in 2003 and later received his PhD on the Arabic script Muhaqqaq from The Prince’s School of Traditional Arts.

Dr Mansour has also published a history of the script entitled Sacred script: Muhaqqaq in Islamic Calligraphy  ( I.B.Tauris, 2011). Muhaqqaq was particularly used for the monumental Mamluk Qur’ans of the 14th and 15th centuries and was later displaced by thuluth and naskh during the Ottoman period. It  is now almost obsolete with the exception of its traditional use for writing the basmallah. Dr. Mansour explained the differences between muhaqqaq and the other cursive scripts developed by Ibn Muqla in the 10th century and showed several superb historically important examples from the Mamluk period.  He also discussed why the script had particularly attracted his interest and how he hoped that it might be revived.

Dr. Mansour has exhibited widely and was responsible for the calligraphy on Saladin’s pulpit in the mosque of al-Aqsa, Jerusalem, during its restoration following  its destruction in 1969. He is currently lecturing in Arabic Calligraphy and Islamic Art History at the Institute of Islamic Arts and Architecture, Amman, and is Visiting Lecturer at The Prince’s School.

Guests enjoy the reception after Dr Mansour's talk
Guests enjoy the reception after Dr Mansour’s talk

The next talk to be held at the RAS will be on Monday 12 September at 6.30 when we launch Dr Hasan Ali Khan’s book “Constructing Islam on the Indus”.

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Dr Hasan Ali Khan is an Assistant Professor in the School of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences at Habib University, Karachi. His current research is on the Alevi community in Turkey and the Ahl-l Haqq of Iran and the structural similarities they share with the Qalandariyya Sufi Order based in Sehwan. We look forward to welcoming Dr Khan and hearing about his publication.

On Tuesday 27th September, also at 6.30pm, we are delighted to welcome Dr Rose Kerr from the Victoria and Albert Museum to share with us her insights on Zhenwu, the Dark Warrior and Daoist Beliefs and Imagery in China. This talk celebrates the Object in Focus loan from the Horniman Museum of an 18th century seated altar figure of Zhenwu. We would like to welcome you all to the lecture and to view the statue which has taken up residence for the next three months in the RAS Reading Room.

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