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.

This 18th-century Ottoman levha, or calligraphic panel, depicts a Shi'i phrase in obverse and reverse, creating an exact mirror image. Today, scholars accept mirror writing as a standard form of Arabic script calligraphy, and have given it various names suggestive of its function: some refer to the script as specular, bi-fold (muthanna), duplicate writing (cift yazi), or reflecting (mutanathir) itself.

Calligrapher: Mahmud Ibrahim. 1720-1730 A.D. Mirror-image thuluth script. Courtesy of the Library of Congress, African and Middle Eastern Division.

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