Decorative writing – calligraphy – is one of the highest art forms of the Arab world. This is partly because strict Muslims disapprove of art which represents humans or living things.
A wealth of information about Arabic calligraphy can be found at islamicart.com, a website produced by the Islamic and Arabic Arts and Architecture Organisation. This includes a general overview of calligraphy in an Islamic religious context and discusses the work of famous calligraphers.
It explains the six major scripts used in traditional calligraphy, and the differences between them. There are also some examples of high-quality work in various styles.
Another Sakkal Design is a website produced by Mamoun Sakkal, a Syrian-born designer and teacher. The site provides a historical view of the development of Arabic writing and calligraphy, from the earliest alphabets to the evolution of kufic and cursive styles.
For those who want to try their hand, there are a couple of lessons for designing in the Kufic style.
Examples of calligraphic art
Above: a video showing calligrapher Taha al Hiti at work.
Examples of calligraphy from a variety of artists, showing the wide range of scripts and styles.
Islamic Calligraphy (I)
Examples in various styles - Kufi, Maghribi, etc.
Islamic Calligraphy II
Twelve images, though without description.
Examples from around the Islamic world, arranged by country
Iraqi-born Hassan Massoudy has been described as the greatest living calligrapher
Exhibition by Hassan Massoudy
October Gallery, London, 2006
Modern designs by Julien Breton, who does calligraphy using light.
Articles about calligraphy
Calligraphy in Islamic art
History, materials and techniques. Victoria and Albert Museum, London
History of Arabic calligraphy
Tools, techniques and paper, plus a look at some great Islamic calligraphers, by Mohamed Zakariya
An Islamic image (1):
Calligraphy as graphics – by Mamoun Sakkal
An Islamic image (2):
English in Arabic garb – by Mamoun Sakkal
Henna and tattoos
Decoration of the skin with henna, plus a note of caution on "Arabic" tattoos.
Lebanon's first Arabic printing press
“Al-Shamas Abdullah Zakher” established the first Arabic printing press in Lebanon in 1734.