Arabic Calligraphy: The Art of Expressing Yourself

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Calligraphy is an art of writing. The Arabic lettering art has been practiced since its invention by Muhammad in the 7th century CE. Calligraphic works have been praised for being some of the most beautiful expressions of the Arabic language.

What is Arabic calligraphy?

Arabic calligraphy is visual art that developed out of the ancient Arabic script and became a major art form in the Muslim world. It has also been very widely practiced by non-Arab Muslims, especially in Iran.

Arabic calligraphy is done with a pen called a reed pen or nib pen, which historically was made out of a dried reed cut to a specific length. The nib tapers to an extremely fine point, which allows freedom for creative expression. Calligraphers use different types of paper depending on the purpose of their calligraphy. They choose between papers with horizontal or vertical lines or colored or white backgrounds.

The Arabic word for “calligrapher” is khatib, which originally referred to someone who copied texts, especially for government jobs where legal documents needed to be created. Today, however, calligraphers are no longer limited to writing copies of older texts; they are free to create new ones.

The ancient art of Arabic calligraphy

Decorative Arabic calligraphy is one of the most prominent forms of Arabic art and expression, and has been practiced since the 7th century AD. The main idea behind this form of art is to take the Arabic alphabet and use it as a design element or as a stand-alone piece of artwork.

The purpose of this type of calligraphy is to exhibit the beauty of the Arabic language and at the same time to provide its audience with motivation and inspiration. The main instrument used for Arabic calligraphy is a pen, which can be made from different materials such as metal or bamboo; many other materials currently used were not available in earlier times, including ink and paper.

The Types of Arabic calligraphy

Arabic calligraphy is the visual equivalent of poetry; there is no more reason to expect me to be able to produce an expert opinion about it than about poetry. What I can do is tell you what I like.

I like the shapes of Arabic letters. They are curves, not angles; that is their first grace. The second is that they are not purely decorative; each one has a small stroke that provides direction and emphasis. This helps them retain their legibility even when they are tiny or crowded together, as they often are in a work of calligraphy or a book.

The third thing I like about the shapes of Arabic letters is that many of them come from specific places in the alphabet. The letter alif comes from a line, ba from a half-circle, jim from a kind of hook, dal from a crescent moon. These forms have been refined over centuries so as to suggest not just the original shape but also its sound and meaning as well as its visual form. In this way, calligraphy makes words more beautiful and meaningful – always a worthy goal – and does so with subtlety and grace. 


The Kufic style of Arabic calligraphy

The Kufic style of Arabic calligraphy is named after the city of Kufa in Iraq. It flourished during the 8th and 9th centuries A.D.

The Kufic style is the oldest form of Arabic calligraphy, and one of the most structurally intricate. There are many different ways to write this script, which is influenced by the geometric patterns typical to Arabic design, but all Kufic writing shares three basic features.

  • Each letter has a beginning and an endpoint.
  • There are no diagonal lines in the script.
  • Each letter has an ample vertical space above and below it.

The letters in the chart at right are written using a specific version of the Kufic style known as “square Kufic.” The top line shows how individual letters are constructed, while the bottom line shows how those letters are combined into words. The second row gives examples of how this text would look if it were written on a page.

Most Arabic calligraphy styles are cursive styles; they consist of flowing lines rather than starkly separated strokes. The Kufic style differs from other Arab calligraphy styles in that it uses squared-off letters rather than curvy ones. 

The Thuluth style of Arabic calligraphy

Thuluth is one of the four main styles of Arabic calligraphy. It’s the most elaborate and, in some ways, the most beautiful.

Thuluth is based on straight lines and sharp angles, in contrast to the curvy shapes of the other main style, Naskh. Thuluth also tends to be more complex than Naskh, with multiple levels of decoration and many flourishes — curls and pats of color — that are added by hand.

Arabic calligraphy is generally written in long, horizontal lines; Thuluth is particularly suited for this, with its bold vertical strokes.

Thuluth is also very well-suited for writing Qur’an manuscripts.

The Naskh style of Arabic calligraphy

The Naskh style of Arabic calligraphy is characterized by diagonal strokes at angles that are not 90 degrees, and by the use of a single pen. It is known as the “running” style.

The word Naskh means “copy”, or “imitation”, and may be related to the fact that it was developed in the time of copyists. It started as a more cursive style of Kufic script . The script was used for copying Qur’an s, but has since been applied to many other languages.

It is now considered one of the most elegant forms of Arabic calligraphy, and is especially popular among graphic designers working with Middle-Eastern clients.

The Diwani style of Arabic calligraphy

The Diwani style of Arabic calligraphy is an exquisite script, quite different from the flowing cursive scripts that are most familiar. The letters are angular and sharp, with few flourishes. They are decorated with small curls placed in between the strokes of the letters. The overall effect is an impression of great speed.

While they are all variations on a single theme, each manuscript is unique, just as each one of us is unique. And they are meant to be handled in a tactile way, not observed from afar. If you have the opportunity to examine one in person, take it! It’s well worth it.

Arabic calligraphy has been described as “painting with letters.” This is especially true of the Diwani style.

Arrow-shaped symbols are some of the more memorable

The word for this kind of writing is “cursive” — which sounds like it means “flowing.” It doesn’t. A better translation would be “broken-backed.” Cursive is the form of writing you do with a pen or pencil when you are not making things look pretty. This is why the capital letters in a printed book are all different from each other, but they are all the same in cursive.

The Arabic word for this kind of writing is thuluth. It’s what you get if you write with an ordinary pen, just making the lines connect without worrying too much about whether they’re smooth. Thuluth turns out to be one of the most beautiful kinds of Arabic calligraphy. It’s the one that is done with a ruler and compass, starting from a circle.

Cursive is not flowing; it’s broken-backed. But it has an advantage over print: its irregularity draws your eye around more quickly than straight lines do, so it’s easier on the eyes, especially after hours of reading. It also makes easier reading once you become accustomed to it, because cursive letters are more distinctive than print letters, even though they’re less regular — and less regular means more memorable.

Tips for Arabic calligraphy beginners

Decide on a style and stick to it. Arabic calligraphy is such an ancient art form that there is no “standard” way of writing. However, there are common guidelines and rules. The best style for beginners is Naskh script, the most widely used script in the Arabic world. 

There are many free online tutorials for Naskh and you can pick up a textbook about calligraphy with this style at any major book store in the Middle East.

Arabic calligraphy is not just about making pretty designs on paper. It’s also used as a tool for learning the Quran and Islamic prayers and poetry. This means that knowing how to read Arabic (even if you’re learning it as a second language) can really help with your calligraphy skills.

Where do you start?

For instance, calligraphy is something that many have an interest in, but not everyone are aware of the fact that it is essentially an art. As with any art, there are rules to follow in order to produce a good piece of work.
As an Arabic calligraphy beginner, you will need to acquire tools and materials to help you with the task. The tools needed are not very different from the ones used by artists who paint or draw. You will need ink, paper or special papers for calligraphy, a pen holder and nibs for your pens made out of gold or silver.
The nibs come in different sizes and shapes so choose the one that suits you best depending on the type of work you want to do. For more information on that please refer to Arabic Calligraphy Tools . It is very important that when you write with your pen you use good quality papers like handmade Egyptian papyrus paper (kirdah) which will give your work a nice finish and make it last longer.
With these tools ready in front of you ,you can start exploring some simple Arabic letters like “أ” (alif), “ب” (b), “د” (d), “ف” (f), “ش”

Tips for writing beautiful Arabic calligraphy

Arabic calligraphy is considered one of the most beautiful styles of calligraphy in the world. There are many artworks that use Arabic calligraphy, not only in mosques but also in people’s homes.
Here are tips for writing beautiful Arabic calligraphy:

  1. When you write Arabic calligraphy, the first thing you need to do is to learn how to write the letters. The letters must be well-formed and written correctly or your work will look unprofessional and messy.
  2. The second step is to decide what kind of calligraphy you want to create, whether it will be simple or complex, large or small.
  3. The third step is to choose the right materials for your project. You can use different types of pens and paintbrushes based on your needs.
  4. The fourth step is to prepare your tools and locations before you start writing Arabic calligraphy designs on paper, walls or any other surfaces you want. You may need a ruler or straight edge for straight lines, a compass for circles, compasses for curves, etc.
  5. The fifth step is to start writing by following all the steps above until you finish your artwork completely.

Tips for designing fantastic custom Arabic artwork

Arabic calligraphy is a complex and beautiful art, but it can also be an intimidating one for the beginning artist. Through the ages, the practice of Arabic calligraphy has evolved into a set of rules and guidelines that today’s artists must follow in order to produce authentic-looking artwork.

Unlike other forms of art, such as painting and sculpture, each calligraphic piece conveys a specific message. The message is given by the combination of the letterforms and the way they are written on the page, which is why so much emphasis is placed on learning about typography and layout when studying Arabic calligraphy. In fact, many artists spend years working on their layouts before they even pick up a pen or brush!

In addition to being aesthetically pleasing, Arabic calligraphy is meant to be read. Therefore it is essential that your piece be legible. The goal of this article will be to provide you with tips and techniques for creating amazing custom artwork in this complex yet beautiful style.

What to buy supplies

Brush calligraphy pens and paper

Arabic lettering on products

Arabic calligraphy art prints and canvas

Arabic Calligraphy books and eBooks

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