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 calligraphic fragment is unique in the collections of the Library of Congress, as it uses no ink at all. Instead, the text is executed in a style known as "fingernail calligraphy" (khatt-i nakhani), in which either a nail or a metal stylus is used to create topographical impressions on a monochromatic (usually white) sheet of paper. Possibly linked to the rise of lithography and the printing press, this Qajar practice discards the traditional tools of the reed pen and ink in favor of a more abstract and experimental approach towards calligraphy.

Calligrapher: unknown. 19th century. 12 (w) x 19.5 (h) cm. Nasta'liq in khatt-i nakhani script. Courtesy of the Library of Congress, African and Middle Eastern Division.

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