There are many forms of Indian calligraphy or stylized writing varying from the base material to the script to the content. Beginning with edicts on stone to the use of copper sheets, Indian calligraphy can be seen primarily in the recording of religious texts, chronicles and literature.
Palm leaf was a much-favoured medium to transcribe Hindu, Buddhist and Jain teachings. Treated palm leaf strips were used as pages and bound together with string to form a book, making it easy to create with inexpensive locally sourced materials and easy to transport too. This was particularly used to copy out the orally-transmitted fables, myths, songs, scriptures and religious treatises in Sankrit, Pali and numerous Indian regional languages and scripts. Some of them even had illustrations.
The Mughals brought in the Persian script that was used in religious texts and to chronicle achievements on numerous surfaces. They too, used stone, marble and fabric, but incorporated elaborate, exquisite embellishment. The Urdu newspaper Musalman, published out of Chennai, is the oldest hand-written newspaper in India and perhaps the last in the world. It continues to employ calligraphers to transcribe the content into fluid right-to-left Nastali'q script.
An edited version of the article was published in Culturama's July 2012 Issue.