Khurshid Alam known as Gohar Qalam
Mr. Gohar Qalam was born in the Khushab district, Pakistan, 1956. His early education took place in the city of Sargodha under Ustad Ismail Dehlevi. Thereafter he studied under the late Hafiz Yousuf Sadidi who was one of the great masters of calligraphy of the Indian subcontinent.
The title of Gohar Qalam was bestowed on him by the late Nafees Qalam, another master of calligraphy and by Professor Ghulam Nizamuddin of the University of Punjab. His major works include a copy of the Holy Quran placed in the main State Mosque known as the Faisal Mosque in Islamabad and includes 406 styles of calligraphy.
The entire manuscript weighing 1600 kilograms is divided into 30 parts and placed in separate show cases. His calligraphy adorns some of the most important public buildings in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan such as the extension of the Mosque and tomb complex of the premier Saint of South Asia who is buried in Lahore and known as the Data Ganj Baksh shrine.
The Lahore international Airport also features his work in its main departure lounge and rendered in ceramics.
Gohar Qalam was awarded a special award in 1989 by the then Prime Minister of Pakistan and in 1992 he was the recipient of Pride of Performance Award by the President of Pakistan. In 2005 he was given a special award by the Japanese foreign minister at the International Calligraphy exhibition held at Tokyo’s Metropolitan University.
On numerous occasions the Government of Pakistan have presented his works as State gifts to visiting heads of States. Apart from numerous public collections in Pakistan, Gohar Qalam is the only Pakistani to have been collected by both the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford and the British Museum in London where numerous examples of his work form part of their permanent collections.
He is a master of Lahori Nastaliq and also of the six other major scripts as have been practised in South Asia. The present work is either on tree bark known as Bhuj Putter or alternatively on paper specially prepared in the Mughal techniques known as Wasli.
The style of calligraphy used is known as Hindustani Thuluth and this is different from the Ottoman school in that it is lighter. Other examples are Ghubari Naskh and a rare style of calligraphy known as Mufajjar. Gohar Qalam has been teaching for a number of years as the Professor of calligraphy at the National College of Arts formerly known as the Mayo School of Arts founded in the 19th century by Lockwood Kipling, the father of Rudyard Kipling.