Copyright © Ali Rouhfar

Persian Calligraphy

Persian/Farsi Calligraphy

With the penetration of Islam into Iran (Persia), the Arabic script, which in early Islamic period was Kufic script, was copied by Iranians. The Iranian writing from there became first Kufic and then Naskh. Thus, some Arabic words entered Farsi, the result of which was a language called Farsi-e Dari.

For more than a century during the time of Abbasids Califs (8 AD - 12 AD), the Kufic script did not have dots and accents, and this caused certain difficulties in reading the words. The accents and dots were invented by Abol-Asvad and Naser-Asen in the 2nd century of Islam. For the next two centuries, more than 20 different scripts were used. This period of time was the period of manuscript anarchy in Persia.

In the third century of Islam (9 AD), Ibn-e Moqleh, a famous writer of the Koran and an unmatched master of calligraphy, literature and poetry,innovated a new rules in calligraphy and limited the variations to six styles: Thulth, Naskh, Reyhan, Mohaggeg, Towgi and Rega. These six scripts advanced and flourished as other calligraphers practiced, and because of the solidity and perfection in their forms and styles, they have remained even until now. Most of Korans have been written with one of these scripts; Naskh and Thuluth were the most popular.

In addition to these six styles, another script was created by Iranians, and was used to write their books called Taliq. This type, although not used as much as other scripts, became a major element for the next, and outstanding, movement in Iranian calligraphy.

In the 14th century AD an Iranian calligraphy master, Ali Tabrizi, created a new form of writing which is called Nastaliq (also known as the "Bride of Scripts") by combining Talig and Naskh and adding new rules to them. From then on, the six original scripts and the new Nastaliq have been used for writing books in Persia. Naskh and Thuluth have been used for writing Korans and Nastaliq is mostly used for poetic writing. Nastaliq has flourished and advanced in Iran during past 7 centuries, with 12 principles in mind. These principles are defined as ways of developing one's character: Boundary Rules, Balance Level, Proportion, Combination, Surface, Rotation, Wide/Surface, Narrow, Ascent, Descent, Grace and Dignity. The last two principles (Grace and Dignity) are the highest level of excellence, and which can not be achieved without spiritual involvement in the art.

Nastaliq is an art in which laws of math and nature are obeyed, and has a mysterious power that enables the artist to create a beautiful piece of calligraphy by using several forms of the same letter, or by employing various forms of the words and using them in different compositions. With its mystifying beauty, Nastaliq has closely accompanied Persian poetry and has played an important role in communicating the poetic concepts to the readers. Looking at the works of calligraphers, both modern and traditional, reveals that Nastaliq has served both literature and mysticism. In fact, compared to other poets, the poems of Hafiz and Rumi have most often been used by artists. In Persian culture and art, poetry, traditional music, and calligraphy are intimately related and complimenting elements. When combined together, they create a specific mystical atmosphere from which a host of transcendent values irrigate the desert of human soul.

Within the last 50 years, Nastaliq artists have developed another mysterious form of this art, while observing the classical rules and regulations of calligraphy. This new form creates a modern composition of words known as Khat Naqsh which can be translated to calligraphic painting. The main characteristic of this modern evolution are briefly as follows:

* Using inherited Nastaliq principles in writing words.
* Putting the pieces of the poetry around each other to create a harmonious composition in an integrated and pleasant piece.
* Use of colors in Khat Naqsh splashes a sense of vitality as the calligraphy expresses the poem.


Once one's eyes are attracted to such a piece, then the message will be more noticeable. The importance of conveying the message is the ultimate goal and commitment of calligraphers. While creating a beautiful composition, artists try to make it possible for the viewer to recognize the original writing so that the beauty and message of this sacred art can be transferred in a coordinated manner. Recent mode of abstracts has become more popular and more pleasant to the world of art regardless of ability to read Farsi scripts. Also these modes are a way of help for manuscript knowledge enhancement because of forming a word by letters in separate forms. 

Rumi Gallery.