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Persian Calligraphy


Persian/Arabic calligraphy in general is known as Islamic calligraphy. In fact there are 2 major elements that have affected on this calligraphy. One is because it started to grow parallel with changes in social and political changed of Islam and the 2nd one is the philosophy of Islam. 

a. When Mohammad Ibn Abdollah (peace be upon him) was chosen as the prophet of new religion in 610 AD, Islam, the main and popular manuscript in Arab Peninsula was Kufi. This script used for writing revelations that Prophet Mohammad was bringing to people of his region, Arab Peninsula. This script mainly was a form of vertical and horizontal line in different sizing. So this script is known by two main features: 1) angles at connecting letter to each other and 2) no dots for letters to differentiate them when the body of letters is the same shapes like Baa, Taa, Thaa and etc.
Not very long after beginning Islam in Arabia, the conquest of Persia by new religion brought a big change in manuscript and eventually turned to a worldwide calligraphy art which today (2018) is flourishing and becoming a popular art.
Islam became the major Persians religion and demands for new religion holy book (Quran) suddenly took over the market while the supply was very limited. The gap between demand and supply motivated many people who had descent handwriting to write Quran either for their fate or for the sake of generating some money. There were 2 considerations for writing Quran: one was the speed of writing which was due to demand and the second consideration was accuracy. Accuracy for writing Quran is the most important part of a written Quran as even an error might change the meaning of a sentence or even might make the meaning reverse. So these two elements which are opposing each other caused improving handwriting. Slow writing to prevent errors from one side affected on legibility and speed writing to reach demands improved writing from angles to curls. Necessity of determining letters by using Nuqta is another element that was revealed when Islam became Persians’ religion. As a consequence, Iran became a place the beautiful handwriting came to competition so about 30 different manuscripts appeared in Iran calligraphy history during the first three century of Islam. Yet, none of those manuscripts was a common one to be recognized as the most beautiful one with rules to be followed by all other people. This era is known as anarchy in Persian calligraphy history. 

3 centuries the calligraphy in Iran was an unimportant element among all arts until an unmatched calligrapher brings his attention to the anarchy in manuscript and was looking for a certain rules and regulations to uniform all scripts. 4th century of Islam (885-940 AD) is the time of big change in calligraphy. He believed that all letters should be located in geometric shapes with certain size. With this belief he started to apply lines, angles, curves, and all geometric elements in relation with letters. Moreover Ibn-Moqla used Nuqta (dots which is equal to a diamond shape equal to the tip of pen) as measuring tape like how many Nuqta are between beginning and ending of the letter Baa (just an example). This method became effective and he called it Naskh (transmogrified). Literally this name was accepted as an explanation of reshaping or turning scripts to regulated scrip and crossing all other styles out. 

Now Iran became pioneer and calligraphy started to flourish with beautiful forms. Along with Naskh other scripts grew but all had the same thyme as Naskh such as Thuluth, Mohaqqeq, Reqa. In this period of time we see many beautiful calligraphy pieces and Quran with the Naskh. This period of history continues until Safavid.

History of this calligraphy does not end here but still Iran was the place for learning calligraphy and meeting calligraphy masters. 4th to 14th century (AD) a new style starts in Iran, Taliq. This style was a cursive for fast writing without 100% consideration of rules and connecting words to each other just for the sake of fast writing. This method of writing was not considered as a style itself and choosing name of Taliq was only for the sake of its meaning (suspended). Back to beginning of calligraphy development which fast pace writing was an element, this time fast writing of Naskh created a new style as well. This was continued until 14th century (AD). The 

Mir Ali Tabrizi is a highlighted name in Islamic calligraphy: he is known as father of Naskh-Taliq, the most popular style of Persian calligraphy. He was thus titled  chief of the scribes. He invented this beautiful calligraphy style by means of combining two older styles together (Naskh and Taliq, or shrunk version, Nastaliq)

This style which is another step towards evolution is known as the most beautiful style and is the most difficult one to write. It has the most potential than other styles so gives ability to create different compositions of words. This potentiality changed a lot in creating artworks and motivated calligraphers to present more artworks especially by associating painting. This new mode is called khat-Naghsh interpreted as calligraphy painting. The main reasons of this potentiality are curvatures and long strokes.

Nas-Taliq is a light and elegant cursive script as other types of Islamic calligraphy. In contrast to other Islamic scripts, the Nas-Taliq has characters that appear to swing from the upper right to the lower left of each word as if suspended by an imaginary line. It featured elongated horizontal strokes and exaggerated rounded forms with no serifs. The diacritical marks were casually placed, and the lines were flowing rather than straight. There is a popular myth that Mir Ali Mirza Jafar Tabrizi, another well-known Persian calligrapher, was Mir Ali's pupil. Later, Mirza Jafar's students followed Mir Ali's style in Herat, where his scripts were frequently copied and highly praised.[2]

After popularity of Nastaliq, a driven style from Nastaliq took place in Islamic calligraphy, Shekasteh-Nastaliq (broken Nastaliq).

b. The more the evolution of calligraphy goes, the more we observe harmony between this calligraphy and nature. There is a belief that its beauty is because of nature related. As a matter of fact, curvature is a related factor in this calligraphy shows the changes of curves from coming to going back to the same source as it is the philosophy of life in Erfan.