The Artistic side of Avesta

With every Avestan letter I mastered, I felt like I was securing a piece of Zoroastrian culture’

Perin Pudumjee Coyaji is the only person in the world to have written a book of Kusti prayers in Avestan calligraphy, a rare script as ancient as Zoroaster himself.

A Wadia College alumnus and a former copywriter, Perin left her job at a leading advertising agency at the age of 25 to pursue her childhood passion of calligraphy.

A devoted student of renowned calligraphy artist Achyut Palav, it was around 15 years ago, at a workshop conducted by her guru, that she saw a thesis on the old Modi script of Western India and first wondered if something like an ‘Avestan script’ existed.

Today, Perin blends different elements of the Avestan script into her calligraphy art, in essence unifying the two worlds of language and visual art. “I try to maintain the sanctity of the sacred language by sticking to handmade paper and auspicious colours like bronze and silver.

In this era of digitisation, there’s something strikingly beautiful in seeing lines in dark red and gold ink ink elegantly flowing over paper. This work is meditation for me — unless it’s a commissioned piece, I seldom have a fixed idea of what I am setting out to do. I simply go with the flow, quite literally,” Perin says.

December 2013 was a special time for Perin, for her work was displayed at an eminent exhibition on Zoroastrianism held in the Brunei Gallery London. “I feel so privileged to be one of the torchbearers of this script today.

But I will be truly successful in my goal only when I pass on this knowledge to the youth,” says the mother of two twin boys. A book on Ahun, the Avestan version of Om, is her next project. “Using Ahun as a base motif, I want to explore the myriad movements within this single sound and seek greater depths in it.”

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