By Noha Zayed & Basma Hamdy
The written word is a significant voice in human interaction and expression in Egypt; reflecting tastes, trends, and belief systems. Egyptian cities and villages abound with an enormous wealth of the calligraphic script in varying styles; ranging from casual scrawls and scribbles to elaborately painted colorful murals. These historical and contemporary versions of urban lettering, varying in surface, medium and technique; adorn mosques, shop-fronts, houses, trucks, boats, schools, toktoks and walls. They are records of human existence that document peoples’ expressions of hope, fears, dreams and anxieties; their life philosophies, values, and supplications to God.
Following years of collecting and photographing found calligraphy and typography a book is being produced featuring beautiful and unique examples of these written expressions. It is an attempt to record and preserve the traditional craftsmanship of hand-painted calligraphy that is becoming extinct, replaced by globalized digital alternatives. More importantly, the book is an attempt to discover and investigate the narratives –and their implications– or fantasies behind this rich tradition.
The underlying political, social, historical and religious references that exist outside of the linguistic boundaries of language can provide insight into the complex and layered narrative of urban lettering in Egypt.
This project was featured in the Cairo NOW! Exhibition and publication.
The following is a preliminary mockup and does not represent the final content of the book.