Arabic Calligraphy: Fonts & Types
Arabic Calligraphy is a way of expressing, symbolizing, and illustrating the Arabic-Islamic Language, as it highlights the art and technique associated with letters; which are creatively used in an infinite number of ways. What makes the art of drawing letters so special is the consistency and harmony within the lines and curves, differentiating itself with its distinctive eastern and oriental design and beauty.
Arabic Calligraphy has come into view during the fourth century, in the south of the Arabian Peninsula, when the ‘Nabati’ font grew popularity emerging from the ‘Aramiac’ font. Up till this day, the Arabic letters are used in ways identical to the Nabati Letters; the “alef”, “waw”, “meem”, and “noon” are drawn similarly to the letters “tad”, “sad”, and “ain”. This form of script prospered significantly throughout the 5th and 6th century, especially amongst the Al-Hira and Anbar tribes. This eventually spread to the borders and outskirts of the northwest region due to commercial convoys travelling back and forth for trade.
It is believed that the elite of Quraish, Bishr bin Abd el Mallek and Harb Bin Umayah, have spread this calligraphy to the people of Makkah before the introduction of Islam.
The art of Arabic Calligraphy is known to be one of the most beautiful and elegant visual arts, which has developed significantly over many years, all around the world. This art preserves the writing of the Arabic language as well as the arabesque beauty that comes from within this Arabic Calligraphy art.
Naturally this art has evolved along with the growth of technology, developing artistic opportunities through the use of various graphic design programs that result in stunning visual arts. In addition Arabic is the language used in heaven, as well as the lines that Allah almighty filled pages of the Quran reciting.
The magnificence of Arabic Calligraphy relies on certain methods that emerge from the proportionality between lines, dots, and circles. They are used in technical ways where its components are adopted by fine arts, such as the line and mass, not in the physical sense but in the sense of its meaning and beauty that it creates. It produces a self movement allowing the line to waddle in distinct aesthetic associating with the content and meaning of the calligraphy all together.
Arabic Calligraphy has multiple styles of writing, each of which has unique and artistic characteristics, which are inspired from the geometrical beauty in the ‘Kufi’ and ‘Razeena’ scripts. ‘Farsi’ scripts are known for its magical flow, while the ‘Althuluth’ script is the master of all scripts and the most beautiful due to its charm and elegance. This has lead to its appearance in many palaces, halls, galleries and even in book titles, government correspondents, and literature. In addition, one of the most important scripts is the ‘Alnasekh’ script, which is used, in writing books and most importantly the Quran.
The most significant types of Arabic Calligraphy:
‘Althuluth’ Font -
The ‘Althuluth’ font is one the most fascinating, and most difficult, fonts to perfect in terms of drawing and implementing. Arabic Calligraphers are not considered calligraphers if they have not yet mastered this style of calligraphy. In the past, calligraphers have used this font to decorate mosques and in writing the beginning of Quran Surah’s. However, it is usually limited to certain titles and sentences due to its difficulty and time that it requires to write.
‘Farsi’ Font –
The ‘Farsi’ font is known for its distinct and beautiful print; it can be easily recognized from the clarity and lack of complexity of its letters. Usually, the ‘Farsi’ font begins with small letters and gradually increases solidity, with soft curves and stretched horizontal lines, utilizing enough space for creative innovation in drawing. The artist strategically connects a single word or two in a way that brings out a frame portraying an idea from his imagination. Some artists use two pens, one of which is one-third the thickness of the other, to add depth and boldness to the words.
‘Kufi’ Font –
It is one of the most ancient fonts in the Arabic history, where its name and origin is taken from the city of Kufa in Iraq. This form of writing was traditionally used in big spaces, in other words carving on the walls of palaces, mosques and many other religious architectural buildings; consequently also naming it ‘Islamic Calligraphy’. The Kufi font includes over 30 types, each with its own beautiful and decorative touches. Some types include, square- styled Kufi, leafy-styled Kufi, nested-style Kufi, and sophisticated Kufi. There are endless decorative applications for the Kufi font, one of which include the common saying of ‘Alan wa Sahlan’/’Welcome’.
‘Diwani’ Font –
Also known as the ‘Sultani’ font and has been given that name due to its association with the court of the Ottoman Sultan, where it was used in writing various correspondences. This form of font rotates and overlaps letters, which was developed by the Turks who were using Arabic letters in their language, ultimately leading them to developing the ‘Aldiwani’ and ‘Ruq’a’ fonts instead of the ‘Farsi’ font. Till this day, the ‘Diwani’ fonts are used to write on ribbons and medals.
‘Ruq’a’ Font –
The ‘Ruq’a’ font is considered to be the simplest of all fonts and the fastest to master, which
made it easy to spread amongst the people.
‘Alnaskh’ Font –
‘Alnaskh’ font is considered to be a segment of the ‘Althuluth’ font and is used to duplicate and make copies of the Quran. This form of font simplifies writing and reading due to the small size of the connected letters.