Spotlight on Tamil literature and calligraphy at this new design studio

From mugs inscribed with Tamil calligraphy to taking part in playing cards that includes Chola royalty — a new on-line studio creates a up to date design area that attracts from historic Tamil texts

At first look, they’re tough to decipher. On a better, re-assessment, the dots, curves and the ‘akku’ distinctive to the Tamil script — albeit stylised — reveal themselves. In straight, thick strains, they’re inscribed in a calligraphic fashion which is satisfyingly modern. And, apparently, what lends content material to this fashion is historic Tamil literature: Avvaiyar’s 12th Century textual content, Aathichoodi, a set of 109 single-line quotations organized in alphabetical order that preaches every part from good habits to the significance of self-discipline.

An avid reader of Tamil literature, Chennai-based artist Arvind Sundar attracts lots from historic texts in his calligraphic follow. His lockdown curiosity has now developed itself into a web based design studio, Urue (which implies, ‘to create’), which he runs together with photographer Mahesh Thiru. Urue strives to create a up to date design area completely for Tamil literature.

The studio’s upcoming undertaking is a pack of taking part in playing cards demarcated by the 4 dynasties that dominated Tamil Nadu — particularly, the Chola, Chera, Pandya and Pallava dynasties. The King, Queen and Jack playing cards of every go well with might be illustrated as belonging to those dynasties.

A deck of taking part in playing cards that includes the royal dynaties that dominated Tamil Nadu  
| Photo Credit:
special arrangement

“The kings are portrayed in their war attire with the royal insignia, while the queens take up different roles pertaining to medicine, literature and battle. There will be two female Jacks and two male Jacks in each set,” says Arvind who’s an assistant professor at Chennai’s Loyola College. The queens can even be carrying the royal flowers of the respective dynasties. The Joker card might be a contemporary interpretation sporting a 23-aam Pulikesi moustache — within the 2006 historical-comedy Imsai Arasan, 23-aam Pulikesi, actor Vadivelu performs the titular position of a comical king. The undertaking is finished in collaboration with designer Meena Priya from Shrishti College of Design. Arvind hopes to get the decks in manufacturing by mid-October.

“At the start of lockdown, I attended a web based course (with a coupon offered by Loyola College) on Islamic tradition which had a chapter on the Quran. The chapter talked about how the Quran was written in a calligraphic fashion,” he says. This rekindled his curiosity within the historic writing method. In the times that adopted, he would vehemently copy complete pages of the 12th and /13th Century variations of the Quran. “Then, I thought if I can copy an ancient text from Persia, why can’t I do it for our own language?” says the artist.

A notebook featuring Tamil calligraphy

This led to his unique work with Aathichoodi in Tamil calligraphy: however it doesn’t contain simply copying the verse. Design parts pertinent to the ethical of every verse characterise the calligraphy. For instance, in ‘Nandru Karudhu’ (which interprets to ‘think/analyse well’), a verse from Puthiya Aathichoodi written by Subramania Bharati, the design finds itself enclosed in a extra modern thought bubble.

While studying about Aathichoodi and Avvaiyar, Arvind realised the graphical high quality of historic Tamil literature: “If you’re taking Avvaiyar, she speaks about ‘nga pol valai’. She says that bend just like the letter ‘nga’ in entrance of elders. She is giving us a really symbolic expression of the letter itself,” says Arvind.

This specific verse impressed him to look at such symbolic qualities within the Tamil script, that led to his sequence on the Sangam Age. He writes ‘cholar’ by incorporating a tiger (emblem on the flag of Chola dynasty) motif, whereas ‘cherar’ is superbly inscribed with the image of a bow that replaces ‘che’. The artist has additionally executed an animal sequence in calligraphy that includes animals whose names are derived from Tamil literature.

Check urue_designstudio on Instagram and Facebook for extra particulars.

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