Additional Resources

Calligraphy Qalam

Calligraphy Qalam is a fabulous calligraphy website created by Elisabeth Kvernen and has a great resources section that includes websites and books about calligraphy, tips on how to read a calligraphy composition, finding a calligraphy class or teacher near you, a glossary of calligraphy terms, and resources for incorporating calligraphy into curriculum. For example, here are tips on how to read Arabic script calligraphy:

  • Arabic is read from right to left
  • If the letters of a composition are interwoven, there may not be a clear horizon line (the invisible horizontal line upon which letters sit). Sequential letters might be placed above or below each other, making words difficult to read. The best way to decipher this type of composition is by trying to recognize whole words
  • If a composition is circular or teardrop-shaped, start reading in the lower right-hand corner. Lines in this type of composition are stacked vertically. Start in the lower-right hand corner and read from right to left, working your way up the page. (A few circular or teardrop-shaped compositions start at the top, but this pattern is rare)
  • Look for a key word. Certain phrases are repeated over and over again in calligraphy. Often if you can read the first few letters, the rest of the phrase becomes apparent. An example of a phrase that is commonly written is the bismillah, an Islamic phrase used when embarking on significant endeavors, meaning, “In the name of God, most gracious, most compassionate.” Often a few letters or words are all that is needed to decipher these well-known passages or sayings
  • Be patient. Sometimes it takes years to be able to decipher a composition. Meanwhile, you can enjoy its aesthetic beauty. A certain amount of ambiguity is part of the delight of this art form

Khatt Foundation

The Khatt Foundation, Center for Arabic Typography is a cultural foundation dedicated to advancing design research and typography in the Middle East, North Africa and their diaspora, and to building cross-cultural creative networks.  Their resources section provides inspiring and informative selection of books, publications and links.

Center for Arabic Culture (CAC)

The Center for Arabic Culture (CAC) is a non-profit organization dedicated to celebrating Arabic language, culture, art, history, and Arab-American cultural experience. CAC promotes Arabic culture in all of its regional and historic varieties and links to other cultures in an open, democratic, and humanistic way.  They currently offer the following Arabic Calligraphy classes in the Boston area:

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