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Appreciating Arabic Calligraphy

Arabic calligraphy is an ancient art form that continues to play a central role in art and expression in the Arab world. It’s a rich art form, as varied as the artists who practice it.

In its most basic form, Arabic calligraphy is a combination of writing and forming contextual or pleasing shapes with the script. The practice dates back to ancient Persia, where writing and calligraphy indicated education and sophistication. It is just as vital and important today: in fact, 2020 was declared the “Year of Arabic Calligraphy” in Saudi Arabia.

“The Love Poster” by Nisar Gul

To be honest, this is another topic I hesitated to write about, like Native American art, because I am so aware of my ignorance, and the risk of cultural appropriation. I can’t read these texts – I just appreciate them for their beauty.

“Your Eyes are All I Need” canvas art from Etsy

I do think there’s a sense in which, in me at least, this art form has done its job: it’s inspired me to learn more about the people, cultures, and traditions that it comes from. My appreciation for Arabic calligraphy, art, and architecture has prompted me to see more, look more, and understand more than I would have otherwise. Native American art has affected me the same way.

“Calligraffiti” in Tunisia by eL Seed

So I hope my appreciation can be accepted as sincere, however ignorant, and that it leads to more opportunities for me to learn and understand. I find these lines, shapes, and curves so compelling and beautiful, and love how they are incorporated into art, sculpture, architecture, and work so beautifully in space.

painting by Muhammad Arslan

The art is so complex and beautiful, with so many layers of meaning… I wish I understood it better. I hope the future exposes me even more to this stunning art form.

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