Where is Arabic Calligraphy in Contemporary Art?
Articles, minor news, appearances A brief overview of the various Arabic calligraphic styles There are many different calligraphic styles used for writing the Arabic script, styles that developed over the span of many years and in different regions.
This article will explain the characteristics of the major styles and styles that were influential on future typographic developments, and give readers the ability to visually distinguish between them.
The basic Arabic alphabet consists of 28 letters, and because these letters are all consonants, the alphabet is classified as an abjad. Abjads represent consonants, or consonants plus some vowels.
Another important feature of the script is the lack of distinction between uppercase and lowercase letters. In both printed and written Arabic, words are constructed in a cursive style; this means that characters are written through the continuous movement of the pen, and dots are usually added in once a single word has been fully written.
Additionally, the same letter can take on a different appearance, depending on where it appears in a given word. This is because in Arabic, letters have contextual forms, and can appear in initial, medial, final and isolated positions.
The table shows how the rendering of characters is affected, depending on where they appear in a sequence. They can be divided into four groups; isolated, initial, medial and final forms. Most Arabic fonts rely on OpenType technology, since their shaping is contextual. Other noteworthy features of the script include numerals being written from left to right despite words being written from right to left, the copious amount of dots used to characterize letters that share a basic form, and achieving justification by means of extending certain letters this is referred to as a kashida.
Kufi At first, localized variants of the Jazm script were used to record the Quran, and each of these scripts carried the name of the region they were created in — Makki from Mecca, Madani from Medina and Kufi, which ultimately became the general term used to describe this style, from Kufa 1.
Features of Early Kufi include horizontal strokes that are either extremely elongated or very compact, the crescent shaped curve on the lower right side of the alif, and noticeably round characters that have extremely small counters.
Towards the end of the seventh century, vowels were introduced into the text in the form of red dots placed above or below characters to show proper pronunciation 2.
Example of the Early Kufi style, used to write the Quran. Notice the small counters of characters such as feh and waw, the elongated kaf and the curved alif. In the tenth century, Persian calligraphers developed a new variation of Kufi called Eastern Kufi 3.
There are many noticeable similarities between this style and Early Kufi in the character shapes and geometric structure. However, when looking at Eastern Kufi and scripts such as Avestan and Pahlavi 4distinct influences of the national scripts can be observed.
The contrast between the long ascenders and shorter slanted strokes, curved letterforms, strokes that are more slender than in Early Kufi, and the tendency to employ a slight slanting to the left when writing, are some of these characteristics. These features give the style an overall highly vertical and upright appearance, and a dynamic forward movement when reading.
Eastern Kufi was used to transcribe the Quran for some time before it was replaced with the Naskh style, but continued to be used for decorative purposes such as chapter headings. It is one of the oldest existing Zoroastrian manuscripts, copied in in Nawsari, Gujarat, by the scribe Mihraban Kaykhusraw.
When comparing the two, similarities in strokes and shapes can be seen in many places. Around the same time as Eastern Kufi was being developed, its Western counterpart called the Maghribi Kufi was evolving.
Maghribi which translates to western originated from the Western Islamic world of North Africa and South Spain, and was highly influential on the future scripts of North and West Africa, as well as Andalusia. Characteristics of this style includes descending strokes that have large bowls, sweeping curves that encircle the next few letters, flat vowel signs that are often added in with red ink, and the general use of uniform strokes with a toothpaste quality.
By the twelfth century, these three styles of Kufi were slowly replaced as the main style for transcribing the Quran and book calligraphy. Instead, they were used for ornamentation on objects such as coins, seals, pottery and on monuments, and many of the newer Kufi styles began to emphasize visual aesthetics over legibility.
Today this style is still widely used in design and for decorative purposes. It is also commonly referred to as the source of inspiration when describing very low-contrast typefaces that have become ubiquitous in recent years in attempts to harmonize Latin and Arabic.
However, a comparison of these styles and Kufi calligraphy shows great dissimilarities in the letterforms and their proportions.
Example page of the Quran written in the Maghribi Kufi style. However, it was truly refined in the early tenth century through the endeavors of Ibn Muqlah 5who transformed it into an elegant cursive script. Naskh quickly became the preferred calligraphic style for manuscripts and transcribing the Quran; a replacement that was doubtless due to features like high legibility and the fact that it is quick to write.
To this day, it is the most commonly used style in the publication of the Quran. Example of the Naskh style in a hand written Quran. Balance is obtained by equal distribution of flat and circular forms.
The harmonious proportions of Naskh render it extremely legible. This combined with the way in which most characters rest on a visible connecting middle stroke has appointed it as the style most adaptable to the limitations presented by metal.
Today, most newspapers, publications and periodicals are printed with typefaces based on Naskh, making it the most widely used style for setting text in Arabic.
Nassim Arabic is based on the Naskh style.History & Development: A Brief Look. The early history of Arabic writing is obscure, and what historical records do exist are controversial. Here is what we know for sure: The Arabic language is very ancient, but it was not a written language until perhaps the third or fourth century C.E.
Editors’ Tip: Learn to Write Arabic Calligraphy. The author of the book, Omar Uddin, is a practicing Arabic calligrapher based out of Toronto, Canada. With a short introduction to the history of Arabic calligraphy, this book is a comprehensive guide to the art of the ancient writing.
Kids get to learn Arabic calligraphy by writing the letter Alif with this cute worksheet that also helps develop Arabic vocabulary. Learn the Arabic alphabet with this fun series of worksheets!
Kids get to practice writing, reading and pronouncing the Arabic letter "Ṣād." More info Download Worksheet. Arabic . There are many different calligraphic styles used for writing the Arabic script, styles that developed over the span of many years and in different regions.
This article will explain the characteristics of the major styles and styles that were influential on future typographic developments, and give. Arabic calligraphy can be easy to read, or quite a challenge, even for native speakers.
In general, people gain a sense of how calligraphers arrange words and become adept at sorting out the various words. Guest author Sahar Afshar is giving an overview of the various Arabic calligraphic styles, many of which were influential on todays typographic conventions and rendering.