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March 14, 2014

Introducing the ‘Zende Mini’

If the idea of our Zende retreat later this year – featuring calligraphy, ecstatic poetry workshops, walks in nature, talks and a concert of classical Arabic music – seems tantalising but just out of your reach, never fear: we are pleased to present the ‘Zende Mini’, a one-day workshop of calligraphy and poetry that can come right to your hotel, anywhere in the Granada area!

For groups as small as six, Persian master calligrapher Asghar Alkaei Behjat will give a full morning’s introduction to Nastaliq calligraphy, for complete beginners and experienced calligraphers in other styles. Beginning with a brief history of Arabic calligraphy, Asghar will then give a practical demonstration of how to cut the bamboo correctly to make your own pen, and useful information about the right kinds of ink – even making your own.

The students will then have the opportunity to experiment with different letter forms, as explained on our useful worksheets, with Asghar on hand to show how to manoeuvre the qalam (reed pen) throughout each shape. In the course of the morning each student will not only experience the tranquility of this ancient meditative practice, and but come away with a unique piece of calligraphy of a verse or word of their choice, calligraphed by Asghar.

After lunch, the group will take a leisurely walk with writer and poet Medina Tenour Whiteman through the landscape nearby. This might be the streets and plazas of the magical Albaicín in Granada, the luscious hills and dramatic mountains of the Sierra Nevada, or even the beaches along the Costa Tropical. This workshop is fully compatible with children, even small babies; you might be surprised how quickly young people get into the swing of their creativity, given a little spark!

To put the students in a writerly frame of mind, Medina sets thought-provoking and engaging exercises to do during various stops along the way. Both poetry and prose are covered in a variety of forms, such as haikus, acronym poems, or inventing a story based around a found object (a pebble, a leaf, a piece of broken tile…).

The ‘Zende Mini’ can be organised through Al-Andalus Experience at any time and can run for two or more days if so desired. Please check availability at least one month in advance, and preferably more, especially in summer. The ‘Zende Mini’ presents an ideal opportunity for a group of friends or families to plan their own educational, artistic trip to the jewel of al-Andalus together, according to their own needs and convenience.

Granada has a rich, living heritage and as we explore it in this delightfully creative way, we delve deeper into the sense of what al-Andalus was and what it means to us now.