Calligraphy Qalam: An Introduction to Arabic, Persian and Ottoman Calligraphy

CalligraphyQalam.com uses interactive tools to interest new audiences in the traditional art forms of Arabic, Ottoman and Persian calligraphy.

Copied in seven lines per page, on one side only of enormous sheets of paper (almost 177 x 101 cm), this Koran is one of the largest ever recorded. It is possibly the work of Samarkand calligrapher 'Umar Aqta', who was one-handed and left-handed. He was said to have written a Koran for Tamerlane that was so small it would fit inside a signet ring. When that failed to impress, he presented Tamerlane with a giant Koran, each line more than a cubit in length (the width from elbow to fingertip), which had to be delivered to the palace in a wheelbarrow. For this he was rewarded on an appropriate scale.

Herat or Samarkand, Iran. 1400-1405 A.D. One line: 24 x 96.5 cm. Muhaqqaq script. Courtesy of the Nasser D Khalili Collection of Islamic Art.

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