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

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Thuluth


(Pronounced “thoo-looth”; Turkish–Sulus)

Meaning

  • “Thuluth” means “one-third.” This possibly refers to its pen size (one-third the size of the pen used for a larger script called tumar)

Uses

  • Script par excellence for writing many different kinds of texts
  • Used particulary for titles and architectural inscriptions

Companion script

  • Thuluth is most often written in conjunction with naskh. Naskh, however, is not based on the Thuluth script, it is merely a smaller companion script

Timeline

  • Developed in the 10th century
  • Refined by Seyh Hamdullah in the 15th century
  • Still in use today

Distinctive characteristics

  • Vertical strokes have a leftward slant, horizontals have a deep curve
  • The ends of most descending letters come up in a hook
  • Often written so the letters interlace
  • Many alternate letter forms exist in this script

Notes

  • Thuluth is often considered the most powerful and versatile script. Some experts say you are not a calligrapher until you can write thuluth.
Thuluth image

Thuluth script.

Thuluth image

Thuluth script.

Thuluth image

Thuluth script.

Thuluth image

Thuluth script.

Thuluth image

Thuluth script.

(Pronounced “nask”; Turkish–Nesih)

Meaning

  • “Naskh” is derived from the verb “nasakha,” meaning “to transcribe or copy”

Uses

  • Naskh eventually replaced Kufic as the script of choice for the Koran; now more Korans are written in Naskh than in all other scripts combined
  • Popular for writing books because of its legibility
  • Adapted for printing, it is still the most common font in printed Arabic

Companion script

  • Thuluth is the larger script often used in conjunction with naskh

Timeline

  • Developed in the 10th century
  • Refined by Seyh Hamdullah in the 15th century
  • Still in use today

Distinctive characteristics

  • Small script, neat and balanced
  • Letter shapes are more fluid and curved than rayhani
  • Letters lean slightly to the left
  • Descending letters end in an upward hook
  • Equal division between flat and round shapes and heavy and light strokes
  • Highly legible, clear and quick to write

Notes

  • Called the “servant of the Koran” because it is used so often for copying this holy book
  • Because the letter shapes in naskh are based on different proportions than the other scripts, it is hard to learn to write naskh well
Naskh image

Naskh script.

Naskh image

Naskh script.

Naskh image

Naskh script.

Naskh image

Naskh script.