- Takes note that the Islamic Republic of Iran has proposed National programme to safeguard the traditional art of calligraphy in Iran (no. 01716) for selection and promotion by the Committee as a programme, project or activity best reflecting the principles and objectives of the Convention:
The tradition of calligraphy has always been associated with the act of writing in Iran, and even when the writers had limited literacy, calligraphy and writing were still intricately linked. But with the advent of printing and the emergence of computer programmes and digital fonts, this art gradually declined and the emphasis on pure readability replaced the observance of both readability and aesthetics. This resulted in a decline in the appreciation of calligraphy among the new generations. The safeguarding of the Iranian calligraphic tradition thus became a major concern in the 1980s, and a national programme was developed for this purpose by non-governmental organizations in collaboration with the government. This programme aimed to expand informal and formal public training in calligraphy, publish books and pamphlets, hold art exhibitions, and develop academic curricula, while promoting appropriate use of the calligraphic tradition in line with modern living conditions. Some of the work on this programme was started by the Iranian Calligraphers Association before the 1980s, and given its immense popularity, the public sector turned it into a national programme by redefining and coordinating it on a large scale based on the experiences of the public and private sectors.
- Considers that, from the information included in the file and the information provided by the submitting State through the dialogue process, the programme responds as follows to the criteria for selection as a good safeguarding practice in paragraph 7 of the Operational Directives:
P.1: The programme for safeguarding the traditional art of calligraphy in Iran is a long-term programme coordinated by two non-governmental organizations and four governmental actors to revitalize, enhance and promote the practice of calligraphy in Iran. Measures include publishing, training programmes, exhibitions, competitions, school textbooks and university courses, new digital fonts, certification and evaluation for calligraphers, and allocation of insurance and financial support to selected artists.
P.2: The programme operates at the national level and is led by two national councils who coordinate its implementation: 1) a specialized Council formed in the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance, which issues licenses and funding; and 2) a corresponding Council in the Ministry of Education responsible for coordinating the implementation of the programme relating to schools and student textbooks. The Ministry of Cultural Heritage, Tourism and Handicrafts and the Ministry of Science, Research and Technology, in cooperation and coordination with the two above-mentioned Councils, are the driving force behind the programme.
P.3: The programme reflects the objectives of the Convention by reinforcing and promoting the role of calligraphy in transmitting traditional values from one generation to another. It also enhances respect for cultural diversity and human creativity in Iran and other countries through the safeguarding of intangible cultural heritage. Documentation activities contribute to expanding research in the field of calligraphy and other traditional arts, as well as strengthening the formal and informal educational infrastructure.
P.4: The programme has contributed to the element being revitalized and gaining popularity among youth, while also contributing to creative expressions involving the element. Masters of the art have combined the tradition with contemporary art to create calligrams, which have gained prominence in the Iranian and international art market. As a result of the programme, the element also features prominently in traditional architecture, on exterior facades and interior finishes, and is widely used in the design of clothing and jewelry. The writing of sacred texts, such as the Qur’an, books of Hadith and narrations, banner writing, celebration and mourning announcements, are also based on the traditional art of calligraphy.
P.5: The programme has been implemented collaboratively between the State bodies and non-governmental organizations, including many master practitioners who are involved in training, formal and informal education approaches, exhibitions and publications.
P.6: The national programme of traditional calligraphy art in Iran can serve as a model for safeguarding in other countries that have the same or similar elements. The art of calligraphy is widespread in a number of Islamic and Arab countries. Given that Iran has common traditions with neighbouring countries, the programme may also be considered for implementation elsewhere.
P.7: The file lists several entities, including government departments and associations, as participating in the implementation of the programme and as being willing to assist with the dissemination of good safeguarding practices. These entities include the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance, the Ministry of Cultural Heritage, Tourism and Handicrafts, the Iranian Calligraphers Association, and the Novem Association. The file provides consent letters as proof of the willingness of these entities to cooperate and their potential role to disseminate the safeguarding practices more widely.
P.8: The safeguarding activities included in this programme will be reported on by government and non-governmental organizations, and be reviewed, analyzed and evaluated by the two national Councils, and the relevant specialized and policy committees. The results of the evaluation will be announced in the Councils and the programme will be adapted accordingly until its full implementation.
P.9: Other countries with a written tradition, especially those from Islamic and Arabic cultures, may benefit from the experiences in this programme according to their local needs. Examples include taking appropriate steps to exchange and share experiences with other countries, teaching calligraphy as an essential part of the programme and implementing it as a national programme. Involving practitioners of all ages, genders, ethnicities and nationalities will furthermore enrich cultural diversity, innovation and creativity, leading the programme to become more dynamic and flexible.
- Decides to select National programme to safeguard the traditional art of calligraphy in Iran as a programme, project or activity best reflecting the principles and objectives of the Convention.