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"Alphabet, Language and the Art of Calligraphy"
Excerpt from the Assyrian Star, Fall 2002/6752 - Vol. LIV, Number 3

By Eden Naby
Harvard University

"..But the art of calligraphy is more. Today, that art is best represented by Rabi Issa Benyamin. In his hands, our letters become more than beautifully written and pleasing to the eye. He arranges them to create overall conceptual forms. This is his genius. His compositions contain elements from painting, language, history and philosophy. Examine the four works on the previous page: He takes the word "Alaha," (God) and using its letters, he creates four entirely different artistic works. The letters in the word "Alaha" are all the same but the concept is expressed in four different ways to create beauty through the building blocks of our alphabet.

In the works of this master calligrapher, the Assyrian language and alphabet have ascended beyond the monastery, beyond the illuminated book, and onto the walls of our living rooms. That is what the audiences at the Smithsonian Folklike Festival appreciated when they gazed at his works and took them home for their own living rooms. This is not just calligraphy, but the art of calligraphy today among Assyrians."

Dr. Eden Naby, serves as the honorary editor of the Assyrian Star. She is a cultural historian who works on the Middle East and Central Asia and helps to enhance Assyrian studies at Harvard University.

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