Arabic calligraphy

Styles of calligraphy

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, 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 describes the instruments used for calligraphy and how the proportions of the letters are determined.

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.

Sakkal also offers a commercial service for rendering names and phrases into Arabic calligraphy as well as calligraphic versions of company logos, and sells a range of Arabic type fonts.

Examples of calligraphic art

Above: a video showing calligrapher Taha al Hiti at work.

Arabic Calligraphy 
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.

Calligraphic Collection
Examples from around the Islamic world, arranged by country

Hassan Massoudy 
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

Origins of Arabic Calligraphy
Turning the alphabet into art, plus: the reform of Arabic writingearly calligraphic developmentlater calligraphic development

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.