Syrian calligrapher strives to keep handwritten art alive after computer takeover – Xinhua English.news.cn

Calligrapher Haitham Kattan writes at his home in Damascus, Syria, Sept. 22, 2022. (Photo by Ammar Safarjalani/Xinhua)

by Hummam Sheikh Ali

DAMASCUS, Sept. 23 (Xinhua) — Computer technology has made life easier, but not for Syrian calligraphers, as the popularity of digital printing has endangered their handwritten signage profession for local businesses.

Haitham Kattan, a 73-year-old calligrapher from Damascus, is one of the artisans whose long-lasting works of art have been taken over by digital graphics.

He is one of the few who still practice calligraphy, which was once a lucrative profession.

For the past 55 years, Kattan’s signature was seen on most store banners, before easy-to-use and inexpensive digital printing began to prevail, making hand calligraphy much less profitable. .

Things got worse in 2015, when he had to leave his workshop in central Damascus due to mortar attacks.

But for Kattan, surrender is not an option. He is ready to go the extra mile to keep this art alive, Kattan told Xinhua.

He quickly sold the studio but in the meantime designated a room to continue practicing the art at his home in Damascus, the man recalled.

“For the love of it, I can’t leave it. When I walk down the street, my eyes keep following the banners and the fonts they’re written in,” he added.

Now Kattan sits in his bedroom using the old-fashioned method of bamboo pens and ink to write names and compliment letters in different fonts and types.

At leisure, the man now offers private lessons to young men and those interested in this ancient art of writing.

He lamented that nowadays people do all the drawing on computers, which is soulless, as he described it.

“This generation can sit on computers and make paintings and artworks and put letters in them, but that’s not enough because the calligrapher has his soul in what he writes,” he said. declared.

Calligrapher Haitham Kattan arranges bamboo reed pens for handwriting at his home in Damascus, Syria, Sept. 22, 2022. (Photo by Ammar Safarjalani/Xinhua)

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