Calligraphy Qalam: An Introduction to Arabic, Persian and Ottoman Calligraphy uses interactive tools to interest new audiences in the traditional art forms of Arabic, Ottoman and Persian calligraphy.

Early Korans were written in an angular script commonly known as kufic. Characterized by short vertical and long horizontal strokes, the script is also notable for the generous spaces between letters and words, which appear as significant as the shape and size of the letters themselves. By varying the thickness of the strokes or the intervals between both the letters and the words, calligraphers succeeded in introducing stylistic and visual variety within the strict canons of Koranic writing. The horizontal format, another common feature of early Korans, further accentuated the horizontal thrust of the script.

Calligrapher: unknown. North Africa or Near East. Late 8th or early 9th century. Kufic script. Courtesy of the Freer Gallery of Art, Smithsonian Institution.

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