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The Art of the Pen: Calligraphy of the 14th to 20th Centuries

The Art of the Pen
Calligraphy of the 14th to 20th Centuries


Published 1996

Nabil F. Safwat with a contribution
by Mohamed Zakariya

The demanding discipline of calligraphy, centring on the power of the written word and transmitted from master to pupil through the ages, is fundamental to Islamic cultures and is the source of one of the world’s richest artistic traditions.

The 174 examples of the art published in this volume represent the scope and continuity of calligraphy over a period of six centuries. They include works by many of the most celebrated calligraphers, beginning with the influential Yaqut in the 14th century, and by such distinguished amateurs as the Ottoman sultans Abdülmecid I and Mahmud II.

This is the most comprehensive study yet made of the subject, examining many fundamental aspects of a calligrapher’s activity for the first time.

The author discusses the artists’ training and the key elements of the calligraphic repertoire, including albums of sample work, stencils and miniature script, cut-out work and gilded leaves. To complement the text, examples of all of the principal types of historical script have been provided by an eminent modern calligrapher.

About the author(s)

Dr Nabil F. Safwat – Former Lecturer, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London; specialist in Islamic calligraphy and the arts of the book

Mohamed Zakariya – Distinguished contemporary calligrapher, now working in Washington, D.C.


248 pages; fully illustrated in colour; compendium of Arabic scripts, section on documentary inscriptions; hardback with dust jacket (slipcased); 1996; 36 x 26 cm ISBN: 1-874780-55-2



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