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Manohar Vitthal Desai

Manohar Vitthal  Desai

Manohar Vitthal Desai

Pune, India

Calligrapher and Designer, Faculty at Symbiosis International University’s Institute of Design

History of Indian calligraphy

India is known for its diverse scripts and languages. You find a different language, script and culture as you cross a border of any State of India. Hindi is the national language of India and ‘Devnagari’ is the script used for writing this language.

Asoka's edicts (c. 265–238 BC) were committed to stone. These inscriptions are stiff and angular in form. Asoka was the first Indian emperor to promote his dynasty through carved stones and pillars. The amenities he created for the villages, stone engraved rules of law of his dynasty, still serve as living reflections of Indian history. Following the Asoka style of Indian writing, two new calligraphic types appear: Kharoṣṭhī and Brahmi. Kharoṣṭhī was used in the northwestern regions of India from the 3rd century BC to the 4th century of the Christian Era, and it was used in Central Asia until the 8th century.

History of Indian calligraphy

Brahmi script is the origin of Devnagari script. ‘Dev’ means God, and ‘Nagari’ means city. Thus Devnagari means script from the city of Gods. Direction of writing Devnagari is left to right in horizontal motion. Religious texts are the most frequent subject for calligraphy. Monastic Buddhist communities had members trained in calligraphy having shared responsibility for duplicating sacred scriptures. Jaina traders incorporated illustrated manuscripts celebrating Jaina saints. The holy book of the Sikhs has been traditionally handwritten with illuminated examples.

Copper was a favoured material for Indian inscriptions. In the north of India, birch bark was used as a writing surface as early as the 2nd century AD. Many Indian manuscripts were written on palm leaves, even after the Indian languages were put on paper in the 13th century. Both sides of the leaves were used for writing. Long rectangular strips were gathered on top of one another, holes were drilled through all the leaves, and the book was held together by string. Books of this manufacture were common to Southeast Asia. The palm leaf was an excellent surface for penwriting, making possible the delicate lettering used in many of the scripts of southern Asia.

In the 16th Century Saint Ramdas from Maharshtra one of the States of India wrote many things about the beautiful handwriting process. He highlighted the fine nuances calligraphy like posture, ways of holding the tool, treatment of surface, neatness, blackness of the ink, etc.

Indian Calligraphists over history have worked with a wide range of materials ranging from clay coins, stone, metal, cloth, leaves to paper. Exquisitely styled ink-pots are a special feature of Indian Calligraphy. India has a rich heritage of Calligraphy in the form of documents and monuments.

Author works


Canvas, acrilic, brush, 51x70 cm, 2008

Moscow is Waiting for Snow

Paper, colours, ink, brush, 76х55 cm, 2008

The Beauty of Calligraphy

Canvas, acrilic, brush, 80x50 cm, 2008

Force ABC

Paper, ink, brush, 44x69 cm, 2008


Ink on paper, brush, 38x71 cm, 2008


Paper, ink, brush, 35x71 cm, 2008

You Are in a Country Where

Paper, ink, colours, brush, 59x91 cm, 2008


Paper, ink, colours, brush, 79x59 cm, 2008

ABC Frame

Paper, ink, colours, brush, 82x60 cm, 2008

Festival of Letters

Paper, ink, сolours, brush, 43x51 cm, 2008

Calligraphy Park. Concept

Paper, pen, ink, sketches, 29х21 cm, 2008.

Calligraphy From the Heart

Canvas, acrilic, brush, 90x60 cm, 2008

Pasaydan (Universal prayer)

Paper, ink, colour, brush, 92х59 cm, 2008

Letter Grille

Colour on paper, brush, 51x43 cm, 2008

Class room

Canwas, ink, colour, brush, 31х92 cm, 2004

Akshar door

Paint on paper, brush, 54x92 cm, 2010


Paint on paper, brush, 67x64 cm, 2010


Paint on paper, brush, 58x45 cm, 2010

Thoughts of Ramdas

Paint on paper, brush, 56x51 cm, 2010


Paint on paper, brush, 40x62 cm, 2010

Family of Letters

Paint on paper, brush, 44x71 cm, 2010

Dancing Stars

Paint on paper, brush, 77x52 cm, 2010

IDC Typography Day

28th and 29th March 2008 Seminar on Typography and Calligraphy Industrial Design Center (IDC), IIT, Bombay, 20x28 cm, 2008

Brahmi Mat

Сolour on paper, brush, 88x58.6 cm, 2010

Magic of Calligraphy

Colour on paper, brush, 47x90.5 cm, 2010
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Calligraphy is the art of both ideal writing and an ideal soul.