The Info List - Islamic Calligraphy

Islamic calligraphy
Islamic calligraphy
is the artistic practice of handwriting and calligraphy, based upon the alphabet in the lands sharing a common Islamic cultural heritage. It includes Arabic Calligraphy, Ottoman, and Persian calligraphy.[1][2] It is known in Arabic as khatt Islami (خط اسلامي), meaning Islamic line, design, or construction.[3] The development of Islamic calligraphy
Islamic calligraphy
is strongly tied to the Qur'an; chapters and excerpts from the Qur'an
are a common and almost universal text upon which Islamic calligraphy
Islamic calligraphy
is based. Deep religious association with the Qur'an, as well as suspicion of figurative art as idolatrous, has led calligraphy to become one of the major forms of artistic expression in Islamic cultures.[1] It has also been argued that Islamic calligraphy
Islamic calligraphy
was motivated less by iconophobia (since, in fact, images were by no means absent in Islamic art) than by the centrality of the notion of writing and written text in Islam.[4] It is noteworthy, for instance, that the Prophet Muhammad
is related to have said: "The first thing God created was the pen."[5] As Islamic calligraphy
Islamic calligraphy
is highly venerated, most works follow examples set by well established calligraphers, with the exception of secular or contemporary works. In antiquity, a pupil would copy a master's work repeatedly until their handwriting was similar. The most common style is divided into angular and cursive, each further divided into several sub-styles.[2]


1 Instruments and media 2 Styles

2.1 Kufic 2.2 Naskh 2.3 Regional styles 2.4 Modern

3 Gallery

3.1 Kufic 3.2 Naskh 3.3 Regional varieties 3.4 Modern examples

4 List of calligraphers 5 See also 6 References 7 Sources 8 External links

Instruments and media[edit] The traditional instrument of the Islamic calligrapher is the qalam, a pen normally made of dried reed or bamboo; the ink is often in color, and chosen such that its intensity can vary greatly, so that the greater strokes of the compositions can be very dynamic in their effect. Some styles are often written using a metallic-tip pen.

Five principal Arabic calligraphic cursive styles: 1. Naskh (نسخ nasḫ) 2. Nasta‘liq (نستعلیق nastaʿlīq) 3. Diwani
(ديواني dīwānī) 4. Thuluth
(ثلث ṯuluṯ) 5. Ruq‘ah (رقعة ruqʿah)

Islamic calligraphy
Islamic calligraphy
is applied on a wide range of decorative mediums other than paper, such as tiles, vessels, carpets, and inscriptions.[2] Before the advent of paper, papyrus and parchment were used for writing. The advent of paper revolutionized calligraphy. While monasteries in Europe treasured a few dozen volumes, libraries in the Muslim world
Muslim world
regularly contained hundreds and even thousands of books.[1]:218 Coins were another support for calligraphy. Beginning in 692, the Islamic caliphate reformed the coinage of the Near East by replacing visual depiction with words. This was especially true for dinars, or gold coins of high value. Generally the coins were inscribed with quotes from the Qur'an. By the tenth century, the Persians, who had converted to Islam, began weaving inscriptions onto elaborately patterned silks. So precious were calligraphic inscribed textiles that Crusaders brought them to Europe as prized possessions. A notable example is the Suaire de Saint-Josse, used to wrap the bones of St. Josse in the Abbey of St. Josse-sur-Mer near Caen in northwestern France.[1]:223–5 Styles[edit] Kufic[edit]

9th century Qur'an, an early kufic example from the Abbasid period

Bowl with Kufic
Calligraphy, 10th century. Brooklyn Museum

is the oldest form of the Arabic script. The style emphasizes rigid and angular strokes, which appears as a modified form of the old Nabataean script. The Archaic Kufi consisted of about 17 letters without diacritic dots or accents. Afterwards, dots and accents were added to help readers with pronunciation, and the set of Arabic letters rose to 28.[6] It is developed around the end of the 7th century in the areas of Kufa, Iraq, from which it takes its name.[7] The style later developed into several varieties, including floral, foliated, plaited or interlaced, bordered, and squared kufi. It was the main script used to copy Qur'ans from the 8th to 10th century and went out of general use in the 12th century when the flowing naskh style become more practical, although it continued to be used as a decorative element to contrast superseding styles.[8] There were no set rules of using the Kufic
script; the only common feature is the angular, linear shapes of the characters. Due to the lack of methods, the scripts in different regions and countries and even down to the individuals themselves have different ways to write in the script creatively, ranging from very square and rigid forms to flowery and decorative.[7] Common varieties include[7] square Kufic, a technique known as banna'i.[9] Contemporary calligraphy using this style is also popular in modern decorations. Decorative kufic inscriptions are often imitated into pseudo-kufics in Middle age and Renaissance
Europe. Pseudo-kufics is especially common in Renaissance
depictions of people from the Holy Land. The exact reason for the incorporation of pseudo- Kufic
is unclear. It seems that Westerners mistakenly associated 13–14th century Middle-Eastern scripts as being identical with the scripts current during Jesus's time, and thus found natural to represent early Christians in association with them.[10] Naskh[edit]

script in a 14th-century Qur'an
from the Mamluk dynasty.

The use of cursive script coexisted with kufic, but because in the early stages of their development they lacked discipline and elegance, cursive were usually used for informal purposes.[11] With the rise of Islam, new script was needed to fit the pace of conversions, and a well defined cursive called naskh first appeared in the 10th century. The script is the most ubiquitous among other styles, used in Qur'ans, official decrees, and private correspondence.[12] It became the basis of modern Arabic print. Standardization of the style was pioneered by Ibn Muqla
Ibn Muqla
(886 – 940 A.D.) and later expanded by Abu Hayan at-Tawhidi (died 1009 A.D.) and Muhammad
Ibn Abd ar-Rahman (1492 – 1545 A.D.). Ibn Muqla
Ibn Muqla
is highly regarded in Muslim sources on calligraphy as the inventor of the naskh style, although this seems to be erroneous. However, Ibn Muqla did establish systematic rules and proportions for shaping the letters, which use 'alif as the x-height.[13] Variation of the naskh includes:

is developed as a display script to decorate particular scriptural objects. Letters have long vertical lines with broad spacing. The name, meaning "third", is in reference to the x-height, which is one third of the 'alif.[3] Riq'ah
is a handwriting style derived from naskh and thuluth, first appeared in the 9th century. The shape is simple with short strokes and little flourishes.[3] Muhaqqaq
is a majestic style used by accomplished calligraphers. It was considered one of the most beautiful scripts, as well as one of the most difficult to execute. Muhaqqaq
was commonly used during the Mameluke era, but the use become largely restricted to short phrases, such as the basmallah, from the 18th century onward.[14]

Regional styles[edit]

calligraphy by Mir Emad Hassani, perhaps the most celebrated Persian calligrapher.

With the spread of Islam, the Arabic script
Arabic script
was established in a vast geographic area with many regions developing their own unique style. From the 14th century onward, other cursive styles began to developed in Turkey, Persia, and China.[12]

is a cursive style originally devised to write the Persian language for literary and non-Qur'anic works.[7] Nasta'liq
is thought to be a later development of the naskh and the earlier ta'liq script used in Iran.[15] The name ta'liq means "hanging", and refers to the slightly steeped lines of which words run in, giving the script a hanging appearance. Letters have short vertical strokes with broad and sweeping horizontal strokes. The shapes are deep, hook-like, and have high contrast.[7] A variant called Shikasteh is used in a more informal contexts. Diwani
is a cursive style of Arabic calligraphy
Arabic calligraphy
developed during the reign of the early Ottoman Turks in the 16th and early 17th centuries. It was invented by Housam Roumi and reached its height of popularity under Süleyman I the Magnificent
Süleyman I the Magnificent
(1520–1566).[16] Spaces between letters are often narrow, and lines ascend upwards from right to left. Larger variations called djali are filled with dense decorations of dots and diacritical marks in the space between, giving it a compact appearance. Diwani
is difficult to read and write due to its heavy stylization, and became ideal script for writing court documents as it ensured confidentiality and prevented forgery.[7] Sini is a style developed in China. The shape is greatly influenced by Chinese calligraphy, using a horsehair brush instead of the standard reed pen. A famous modern calligrapher in this tradition is Hajji
Noor Deen Mi Guangjiang.[17]


This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. (May 2016)

Western design has influenced Arabic Calligraphy
in modern times, with forms such as calligraffiti.[citation needed] Gallery[edit] Kufic[edit]

script in an 11th-century Qur'an

Maghribi kufic script in a 13th-century Qur'an

Square kufic tilework in Yazd, Iran

Under-glaze terracotta bowl from the 11th century Nishapur

Gold dinar
Gold dinar
from 10th century Syria

A Kufic
calligraphy in Chota Imambara


script in a 15th-century Qur'an
from Turkey.

script in a 13th-century Qur'an.

Naskh script in an early 16th-century Ottoman manuscript dedicated to Selim I.

Diploma of competency in calligraphy, written with thuluth and naskh script.

script tile in Samarkand.

of Ali decorating Hagia Sophia.

Regional varieties[edit]

Ta'liq script in an Ottoman manuscript.


Proportions of the nasta'liq script.

Sini script in an 11th-century Qur'an.

Chinese Qur'an
written in Sini with Chinese translation.

The Word "Allah" written in the Form of Pigeon in Chota Imambara

Modern examples[edit]




An example of zoomorphic calligraphy.

flag of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan
Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan

Animation showing the calligraphic composition of the Al Jazeera
Al Jazeera

The Emirates logo is written in traditional Arabic calligraphy.

Air Serbia
Air Serbia
logo, Serbian eagle
Serbian eagle
drawn with Arabic calligraphy
Arabic calligraphy

The instruments and work of a student calligrapher.

Islamic calligraphy
Islamic calligraphy
performed by a Malay Muslim in Malaysia. Calligrapher is making a rough draft.

List of calligraphers[edit] Some classical calligraphers:


Ibn Muqla
Ibn Muqla
(d. 939/940) Ibn al-Bawwab
Ibn al-Bawwab
(d. 1022) Fakhr-un-Nisa (12th century) Yaqut al-Musta'simi
Yaqut al-Musta'simi
(d. 1298) Mir Ali Tabrizi (d. 14th–15th century)

Ottoman era

Shaykh Hamdullah (1436–1520) Seyyid Kasim Gubari
Seyyid Kasim Gubari
(d. 1624) Hâfiz Osman
Hâfiz Osman
(1642–1698) Mustafa Râkim
Mustafa Râkim
(1757–1826) Mehmed Shevki Efendi
Mehmed Shevki Efendi

See also[edit]

Islamic architecture Islamic Golden Age Islamic graffiti Islamic pottery Museum of Turkish Calligraphy
Art Ottoman Turkish language Persian calligraphy Sini (script) Uthman Taha


^ a b c d Blair, Sheila S.; Bloom, Jonathan M. (1995). The art and architecture of Islam : 1250–1800 (Reprinted with corrections ed.). New Haven: Yale University Press. ISBN 0-300-06465-9.  ^ a b c Chapman, Caroline (2012). Encyclopedia of Islamic Art
Islamic Art
and Architecture, ISBN 978-979-099-631-1 ^ a b c Julia Kaestle (10 July 2010). " Arabic calligraphy
Arabic calligraphy
as a typographic exercise".  ^ Irvin Cemil Schick, “The Content of Form: Islamic Calligraphy Between Text and Representation,” in Sign and Design, ed. B. Bedos-Rezak and J. Hamburger (Washington, D.C.: Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, 2016), 169–190. ^ Sunan Abi Dawud, Sunnah 4699. ^ "History of the Arabic Type Evolution from 1930 till Present".  ^ a b c d e f Kvernen, Elizabeth (2009). "An Introduction of Arabic, Ottoman, and Persian Calligraphy: Style". Calligraphy
Qalam.  ^ "Kūfic script". Encyclopædia Britannica.  ^ Jonathan M. Bloom; Sheila Blair (2009). The Grove encyclopedia of Islamic art
Islamic art
and architecture. Oxford University Press. pp. 101, 131, 246. ISBN 978-0-19-530991-1. Retrieved 4 January 2012.  ^ Mack, Rosamond E. Bazaar
to Piazza: Islamic Trade and Italian Art, 1300–1600, University of California Press, 2001 ISBN 0-520-22131-1 ^ Mamoun Sakkal (1993). "The Art of Arabic Calligraphy, a brief history".  ^ a b "Library of Congress, Selections of Arabic, Persian, and Ottoman Calligraphy: Qur'anic Fragments". International.loc.gov. Retrieved 2013-12-04.  ^ Kampman, Frerik (2011). Arabic Typography; its past and its future ^ Mansour, Nassar (2011). Sacred Script: Muhaqqaq
in Islamic Calligraphy. New York: I.B.Tauris & Co Ltd. ISBN 978-1-84885-439-0 ^ "Ta'liq Script". Encyclopædia Britannica.  ^ " Diwani
script". Encyclopædia Britannica.  ^ "Gallery", Haji Noor Deen.


Wolfgang Kosack: Islamische Schriftkunst des Kufischen. Geometrisches Kufi in 593 Schriftbeispielen. Deutsch – Kufi – Arabisch. Christoph Brunner, Basel 2014, ISBN 978-3-906206-10-3.

External links[edit]

Find more aboutIslamic calligraphyat's sister projects

Media from Wikimedia Commons Quotations from Wikiquote

Islamic Calligraphy
Pictures mastersofistanbul.com

v t e

Islamic calligraphy



Hijazi Jeli Thuluth Kufic
(Geometric Kufic) Maghrebi Muhaqqaq Mashq Naskh Thuluth


Diwani Tawqi
(Tevki) Ruq'ah


Nasta'liq Taʿlīq




Arabic calligraffiti Arabic miniature Basmala Islamic calligram Firman Hilya Islamic illuminated manuscript Mughal miniature Muraqqa Ottoman illumination Ottoman miniature Persian miniature Tughra Islamic zoomorphism


List of Arabic calligraphers List of Ottoman calligraphers List of Persian calligraphers

Tools Techniques

Kashida Qalam Word heaping


Al-Furqan Islamic Heritage Foundation Museum of Turkish Calligraphy
Art Society of Iranian Calligraphists



Part of Islamic arts

v t e

Islamic art


Regional styles

Ayyubid Azerbaijani Chinese Indo-Islamic Indonesian Moorish Moroccan Mudéjar Mughal Ottoman Pakistani Persian Somali Sudano-Sahelian Tatar Timurid Umayyad


Ablaq Banna'i Iwan Jali Mashrabiya Mihrab Minaret Mocárabe Muqarnas Yeseria See also Decoration


Regional styles

Persian (Early, Qajar, Safavid) Turkish (Ottoman)


Gul Kilim


Persian Turkish Prayer


Azulejo Fritware Hispano-Moresque İznik Lustreware Persian Chinese influence


Batik Damask Ikat Embroidery Soumak Suzani


Khatam Minbar

Other media

Brass Damascus steel Glass Hardstone carving Ivory carving Stained glass


Arts of the book


Arabic Mughal Ottoman Persian


Arabic Diwani Kufic Muhaqqaq Naskh Nastaʿlīq Persian Sini Taʿlīq Thuluth Tughra

Other arts

Muraqqa Hilya Ottoman illumination


Arabesque Geometric patterns Girih
(tiles) Zellige

The garden

Charbagh Mughal Ottoman Paradise Persian


Berlin Cairo Doha Ghazni Istanbul (Arts, Calligraphy
Art) Jerusalem
(Islamic Museum, L. A. Mayer Institute) Kuala Lumpur London (British Museum, V&A) Los Angeles Marrakech (Museum, Majorelle Garden) Melbourne Paris (Arab World Institute, Louvre) Singapore Toronto (Aga Khan) Tripoli

Principles, influences

Islamic Art: Mirror of the Invisible World Aniconism in Islam Indo-Saracenic Revival Islamic world contributions to Medieval Europe Influences on Western art

Grotesque Moresque

Mathematics and architecture Moorish Revival Oriental carpets in Renaissance
painting Pseudo-Kufic Stilfragen Topkapı Scroll

v t e

Islamic architecture


Arabic architecture Berber architecture Iranian architecture Islamic architecture Mughal architecture Ottoman architecture


Abbasid Anatolia Beyliks Ayyubid Azeri Bengali Chinese Fatimid Indo-Islamic Indonesian / Malaysian Isfahani Khorasani Mamluk Modern Moorish Moroccan Mudéjar Mughal Ottoman Pakistani Razi Seljuk Somali Sudano-Sahelian Tatar Timurid Umayyad Vernacular Persian Yemenite



Ablaq Chahartaq Chhajja Hasht-Bihisht Hypostyle Iwan Jharokha Kucheh Liwan Mashrabiya Moroccan riad Qadad Riwaq Sahn Semi-dome Shabestan Squinch Tadelakt Vaulting Voussoir Windcatcher

Dome of the Rock
Dome of the Rock
in Jerusalem

arch styles

Discharging arch Four-centred arch Horseshoe arch Multifoil arch Ogee arch Pointed arch

roof styles

(Arabic dome / Onion dome
Onion dome
/ Persian dome / South Asian dome) Guldasta Tajug

religious objects

Bedug Dikka Gonbad Hussainiya Imamzadeh Kiswah Loudspeakers Maqsurah Mihrab Minaret Minbar Müezzin mahfili Qibla Zarih


Alfiz Arabesque Banna'i Girih Girih
tiles Islamic calligraphy Islamic geometric patterns Islamic interlace patterns Jali Mocárabe Mosque
lamp Muqarnas Nagash painting Qashani Shabaka Socarrat Yeseria Zellige


Andaruni Harem Qa’a Zenana


Bagh Charbagh Islamic garden Mughal gardens Ottoman gardens Paradise garden Persian gardens Reflecting pool

outdoor objects

Chhatri Eidgah Howz Shading Umbrellas Mechouar Sebil Shadirvan



Dargah Gongbei Jama Masjid Jama'at Khana Khanqah Külliye Madrasa Maqam Maqbara Mazar Mosque Musalla Qubba Rauza Surau Tekyeh Türbe Zawiya


Baradari Bazaar Caravanserai Dar al-Shifa Ghorfa Kasbah Mahal Medina quarter Souq Turkish bath Well house


Albarrana tower Alcazaba Alcázar Amsar Bab Kasbah Ksar Qalat Ribat


Aga Khan Award for Architecture ArchNet


Indo-Saracenic Revival Influences on Western architecture Moorish Revival

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