You are on page 1of 3






Arabic calligraphy is a primary form of art for written Islamic

visual expression. Written from right to left, the Arabic script
at its best can be a flowing continuum of ascending verticals,
descending curves, and temperate horizontals, achieving a
measured balance between static perfection of individual form
and paced and rhythmic movement. Confused? Alright, let·s
break it down to more digestible bites.
The early Arab culture was prolific in terms of writing and
poetry. Long before they were gathered into the Islamic fold,
the nomadic Arabs felt an immense appreciation for the spoken
and written word. Jazm is the earliest referenced Arabic
script. This script is believed to be an advanced form of the
Nabataean (nomadic Arabs) alphabet. The stiff, angular, and
well-proportioned letters of the Jazm script lead to the advent
of the famous Kufi script meaning the script of Kufa, an Iraqi
Calligraphers used a reed and brush pen called Qalam, scissors,
a knife for cutting the pens, an ink pot, and a sharpening tool.
It was essential that they knew how to identify the best cane
suitable for a good pen, how to trim the nib, and how to split
the cane exactly in the center so that the nib had equal halves.
A good pen was cherished and, sometimes, was even handed
down to another generation. Other times, it was buried with
the calligrapher when he died.
The most outstanding writing techniques or scripts in Arabic
Calligraphy are are Gulzar, Maraya or Muthanna, Zoomorphic,
Siyaqat, and al-Khat al-Hurr.

Arabic script is derived from the Aramaic Nabataean alphabet.

The Arabic alphabet is a script of 28 letters and uses long but
not short vowels. The letters are derived from only 17 distinct
forms, distinguished one from another by a dot or dots placed
above or below the letter. Short vowels are indicated by small
diagonal strokes above or below letters.

In an attempt to preserve and restore exquisite works of Arabic
calligraphy and other paper-based collections, a Paper and
Book Conservation Laboratory was launched by ADACH last
´When dealing with manuscripts and historic books, we have to
keep in mind that a book actually consists of much more
information than the written or printed text itself. By closely
looking at papers, writing inks, pigments and binding
structures, much knowledge can be gained about the origin,
age and history of a book.µ
Fabienne Meyer, a paper conservation specialist
Once a database documenting the materials and binding
structures of Islamic Books is compiled, it will be shared with
similar collections globally.