Musalman: A Handwritten Newspaper

In today’s day and age of digital communications, its utopian to even think of a completely hand-written newspaper. However, there is one that exists. And the WIRED thinks it may be the only one in the world left.

Image Copyrights: Scott Carney for WIRED

Musalman is a small daily newspaper published from Madras.

Here in the shadow of the Wallajah Mosque, a team of six puts out this hand-penned paper. Four of them are katibs — writers dedicated to the ancient art of Urdu calligraphy. It takes three hours using a pen, ink and ruler to transform a sheet of paper into news and art.

This is surely a dying art, as is handwriting in general. Today’s generation growing up learn to weild the mouse and the keyboard with a lot more dexterity than the pen. Fountain pens are all but a luxury. I remember my days in school, where till the 5th standard, we were to write in pencil and from then on only in fountain pens, till the 8th standard. Architecture school also helped in improving my handwriting. And as someone who loves to write and cherishes the effort that goes into good penmanship, I find this newspaper a fantastic relic and example of a lost art.

For centuries, handwriting was the definitive mark of social status, education and liberal values in India. Calligraphers mastered the swooping Urdu script in ivory-tower institutions and penned copies of the Koran for wealthy patrons. The pinnacle of a katib’s achievement meant a seat at court and a chance to earn the sultan’s ear.

Hopefully the newspaper will continue for years to come.

The entire article and the multimedia show on this topic can be found on WIRED’s site.

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