Where Chinese and Arabic Calligraphy Meet

Born in China in 1967, Haji Noor Deen is probably better known today in the Arab World and the West.
His claim to fame is his mastery of a script that fuses two great traditions of calligraphy: Chinese and Arabic.

Haji Noor Deen is ethnic Hui, which is a bit of a catch-all term. The Hui people are predominantly Muslim, and most speak Chinese as their first language. Although we don’t hear as much about them as about the Uyghurs, the Hui are China’s largest Muslim group. When Beijing sends Muslim musicians abroad to represent the country’s diversity, most are Hui.

Ha Hui is one of the China’s best-known Hui musicians. She sang one of the Beijing Olympics’ official songs, and has represented China culturally in performances in Egypt, Turkey, Israel and the United States. Interestingly, official Chinese media often don’t mention her ethnicity.

Another Hui song:

Many thanks to former Big Show intern Angela Sun (follow her on Twitter here) for her research and interviews for this podcast.

Photos: Angela Sun, Haji Noor Deen



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