Arabic Script: Styles, Variants, and Calligraphic Adaptations by Gabriel Mandel KhanArabic Script: Styles, Variants, and Calligraphic Adaptations by Gabriel Mandel Khan

Arabic Script: Styles, Variants, and Calligraphic Adaptations

byGabriel Mandel KhanTranslated byRosanna M. Giammanco Frongia

Paperback | April 1, 2006

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This fascinating guide to the Arabic alphabet and writing styles also offers an ample and thorough overview of a culture and a civilization.

This enlightening book helps us discover an alphabet that throughout the centuries has been linked to the secular and religious worlds of Islam. The text explains the history and meaning of each letter, as well as its philosophical, theological, and cultural significance, and 300 two-color and black-and-white pictures illustrate the letters, their variants, and calligraphic adaptations. An ideal book for linguists, graphic designers, and collectors of Islamic art, Arabic Script will also prove handy for travelers who wish to become familiar with the rudiments of the alphabet.

One of the world’s major forms of writing, Arabic script is the language of the Koran and became widespread as a result of Islamic conquests of much of the world. The Koran places great importance on writing, and in the first verse of the holy book, reading and writing with the calamus, or reed pen, are praised as the source of all knowledge and all spiritual or scientific paths of change. For this reason the Islamic world is known for its reverence for books, as well as its love of writing. Eventually Arabic script gave rise to calligraphic art, which became an art form of astonishing beauty. More highly regarded than painting, Arabic calligraphy is approached aesthetically, like music, with its own rules of composition, rhythm, and harmony.
Gabriel Mandel Khan is an official of the Jerrahi-Halveti Sufi Brotherhood in Italy and a member of the Cambridge Islamic Academy. He has published many works on Islamic history and culture and is also a well-known calligrapher, engraver, and ceramist.
Title:Arabic Script: Styles, Variants, and Calligraphic AdaptationsFormat:PaperbackDimensions:180 pages, 9.2 × 6.4 × 0.44 inPublished:April 1, 2006Publisher:Abbeville Publishing GroupLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0789208792

ISBN - 13:9780789208798

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Read from the Book

Excerpt from Arabic ScriptThe Letters of the AlphabetALIFName: alifTransliteration: the sign ’ or a.Pronunciation: long a, as in fair (for special signs, see pages 90-91).The first letter of the Arabic alphabet is the sign ’ (alif); it has a guttural sound.In the art of reciting the Qur’an (tajwid), it has the characteristics of sonority, tonicity, and softening, and the antonymies of lowering and opening.This letter is the module of the whole calligraphic system. Calligraphers vary its length, measuring it in square points, or dots (noqta), as for other letters. The width of the alif is one point, and its length can vary from three to twelve points; for example, in the naskhi it has a height of five points, in the thuluth, nine. From the length of the alif the diameter of a circle inside which all the other letters are written is also calculated. The characteristics of this letter are linearity (qawam), axiality (mihwari), balance (mu‘tadilan), and a straight stroke (muntasiban).Because the shape of the alif resembles the numeral 1, it symbolizes the selfness of God as well as his unity. Thus, this letter take son the archetypal value of the whole alphabet, which it begins, and is thus also identified with Adam, the father of humankind (and thus any diacritical sign affirming this letter’s value is identified with Eve).The three main positions of Islamic prayer are: standing, like the alif; kneeling, like the dal; and prostrate, like the mim. These three letters also make up the name Adm (Adam). According to the mystic Ibn Ata’Allah Abbas (d. 1309), “this name is derived from ulfa (good company), because it unites and agrees (ta‘lif) with the other letters.” For some sects, however the alif represents Satan, because like him “it does not bow” to God (alif mutaakhar al-Sujud).Grammatically, alif is an interrogative particle (a Zaydun fy al-Bayti?: Is Zayd home?).In the Huruf system, ‘ilm al-Huruf is the science of the secrets of the letters of the alphabet, also known as ‘ilm al-Abjad, or simiya’, from the Greek [points] (letter magic, used in mystical speculation and magical practices); alif represent the numbers one, and belongs to the element of fire.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents from Arabic Script:

Using the Calamus
The Letters of the Alphabet
The Supplemental Letters
Styles, Variants, and Calligraphic Adaptations

Editorial Reviews

"With its hundreds of illustrations ranging over many centuries, this book is a visual treat even for readers unfamiliar with Arabic. Of particular interest to calligraphers and graphic designers." — Library Journal