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

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Muhaqqaq


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Rayhani


(Pronounced “moo-huk-uk”; Turkish–Muhakkak; Persian–Mohaqqaq)

Meaning

  • “Muhaqqaq” means “fully-realized,” and “strongly expressed”

Uses

  • Muhaqqaq was used throughout the Islamic world to write fine, large Korans or architectural inscriptions

Companion script

  • Muhaqqaq is most often written in conjunction with rayhani, which is a smaller version of the same script

Timeline

  • Developed in the 10th century
  • Refined by Seyh Hamdullah in the 15th century
  • Yielded its place to Thuluth at the end of the 17th century
  • Muhaqqaq is mostly obsolete today, but by tradition is still used to write the bismillah (an Islamic phrase meaning, “In the name of God, most gracious, most compassionate”)

Distinctive characteristics

  • Precise, angular script with upright letters
  • Carefully balanced ascenders and horizontal letters
  • Strong horizontal emphasis (wider than it is shorter)
  • Descending strokes end in a straight, sharp points rather than turning upwards in a hook
  • Descending round strokes often encircle the following letter
Muhaqqaq image

Muhaqqaq script.

Muhaqqaq image

Muhaqqaq script.

Muhaqqaq image

Muhaqqaq script.

Muhaqqaq image

Muhaqqaq script.

(Pronounced “ray-ha-nee”; Turkish–Reyhani; Persian–Raihan)

Meaning

  • “Rayhani” means “the aromatic plant basil” or “having a fragrance”

Uses

  • Rayhani was used for copying Korans

Companion script

  • Muhaqqaq is the larger script often used in conjunction with rayhani

Timeline

  • Developed in the 10th century
  • Refined by Seyh Hamdullah in the 15th century
  • Like muhaqqaq, the use of rayhani began to decline after the 17th century in favor of Naskh

Distinctive characteristics

  • A small version of muhaqqaq
  • Letter shapes are more pointy than Naskh
  • Usually has a pronounced spike on the initial alif-lam letter shape

Notes

  • An easily readable script

Rayhani image

Rayhani script.

Rayhani  image

Rayhani script.

Rayhani  image

Rayhani script.

"If the foreign kings brag to us of their proverbs, we shall boast to them of what we have of the styles [scripts] of calligraphy, because of the nobility of the art."
~ quote by caliph Al-Ma'mun