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.

By the thirteenth century, a number of more cursive writing styles had replaced kufic as the preferred scripts for the Koran. One of the most prevalent scripts was muhaqqaq, notable for its tall, slender verticals and sweeping sublinear strokes. Used throughout the Islamic world—from Egypt to India—for copying of the Koran, the script's combination of vertical and horizontal letters lend it a distinct visual dynamism. The other popular cursive script was thuluth, reserved primarily for monumental inscriptions on objects, buildings, and chapter headings as is evident here.

Egypt. 14th century. 41 x 31.8 cm. Muhaqqaq and thuluth scripts. Courtesy of the Freer Gallery of Art, Smithsonian Institution.

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