Calligraphy Qalam: An Introduction to Arabic, Persian and Ottoman Calligraphy uses interactive tools to interest new audiences in Arabic, Ottoman and Persian calligraphy.

Yaqut al-Musta‘simi
(early 13th century-1298 A.D.)

Full name:

Abu’l-Majd Jamal al-Din Yaqut, known as Yaqut al-Musta‘simi because he served Caliph al-Musta‘sim

What he did:

  • Refined the six scripts set down by Ibn al-Bawwab
  • Gave the letter shapes new dimension by emphasizing the slanted cut of the pen
  • Further systematized the method of proportional measurement with dots
  • Developed the school of calligraphy that Turkish and Persian calligraphers followed for years to come


  • Born in the region of Anatolia
  • Was a slave of the last caliph of the 'Abassid dynasty in Baghdad, al-Musta‘sim Billah (reigned 1242-1258)
  • Spent nearly his whole life in Baghdad
  • Became a scribe in the royal court
  • Studied calligraphy with an excellent woman calligrapher named Shuhda Bint Al-‘Ibari, a student in the direct line of Ibn al-Bawwab
  • Committed to his work. During the Mongol sack of Baghdad in 1258, he took refuge in the minaret of a mosque so he could finish his calligraphy practice, while the city was being ravaged below
  • His career flourished under Mongol patronage
  • Wrote prolifically. Made 364 copies of the Koran, several copies of which still exist and are highly prized by collectors

<< Ibn al-Bawwab | Mir ‘Ali Tabrizi >>

Slanted cut of the pen

Image of a reed pen being carved

Proportional measurement system

Image of letters with dots for measurement

Calligraphy attributed to Yaqut al-Musta'simi

Calligraphy by Yaqut al-Musta‘simi