Iranian calligrapher Javad Khouran has won the 3rd Hilya Calligraphy Competition in Istanbul, Turkey.
Khouran received a $50,000 cash prize from Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan at the awards ceremony. Prominent guest Gholamhossein Amirkhani and jury member Ali Shirazi, both from Iran, were in attendance, along with several other artists from Iraq, Egypt, Syria, Turkey and Iran.
Other Iranian artists also received honorable mentions in the Nastaliq, Cursive Nastaliq, and other calligraphy styles, broadly used in copying Arabic words, romantic and epic Persian poetry and literary manuscripts.
The term Hilya (Turkish: Hilye) denotes a religious genre of Turkish literature, dealing with the physical description of Prophet Mohammad (PBUH). Hilya literally means "ornament". For Muslims who avoid visual representations depicting human beings, especially that of the prophets, the millenary expression within the Islamic tradition allowing for the portrayal of the person of Prophet Mohammad has been the Hilya, his pen portrait
Addressing the awards ceremony, President Erdogan praised the organizers and said calligraphy is an exceptional art that plays a key role in promoting the religion of Islam.
As always, this year’s competition was attended by prominent calligraphers from around the globe. The top prize of $20,000 went to Iranian calligrapher Habib Ramezanpour. Ten other Iranian artists also received awards and honorable mentions.
Addressing the ceremony, Hilya founder and curator Mehmet Cebi referred to Gholamhossein Amirkhani as a great artist, philosopher and elite, and called on him to publish articles in Turkey using the fine art of calligraphy.
Also addressing the crowd, Amirkhani emphasized the importance of calligraphy in a globalized world that no longer has borders, adding that the Hilya competition could and should play a key role in promoting the Hilya calligraphy in the world.
He added, “Mankind is a divine trusteeship. After receiving the knowledge and the wisdom he should transfer it to the next generation accordingly. The text of Hilya is full of secrets about this knowledge and wisdom that we have inherited from previous generations. Hilya is a reflection of two fundamental principles of ethics and equivalence in behavior. They must be part and parcel of our modern times.
He concluded by saying that art is the savior of mankind; calligraphy is an exceptional art; and we could only master the art with pure feelings.
Also speaking, jury member Ali Shirazi said calligraphy is an Islamic culture and civilization heritage. “Calligraphy binds all Muslim nations together as it narrates and rewrites the outstanding beauties of Islam. Calligraphy is what the world and the world of art need today, as it has with it ethics and awareness. It is important for all Muslim nations to promote the potentials of this fine art. Iran and Turkey are the cradles of calligraphy and for that reason they have a bigger responsibility to help the Hilya competition make its mark in the world.”
In conclusion, Shirazi called on the organizers to invite jury members from other countries as well in order to make the annual event all-inclusive and truly global.
All the works awarded at the competition have been published in a book and all cash awards will be handed over to winners in a special ceremony later in Tehran. In the 2011 Hilya competition, 20 winners received total cash awards to the tune of $123,000 in Tehran.
Denoting quality, characteristic or form, as well as decoration or ornament, Hilya, within the Islamic context, refers to the literary genre which elaborates on the features and merits of Prophet Mohammad. The genre describing the characteristics, the physical, personal, and moral attributes and virtues, as well as the actions and behavior of God’s Messenger has an important place within Islamic literature and calligraphy.