The History and Art of Persian Calligraphy

On April 11th in Farezenah Hall, Moslem Parvin gave an hour long presentation on Persian calligraphy. He briefly dove into the evolution and the past of Persian calligraphy before demonstrating his own skills with nib and ink. Persian calligraphy came into its own as an art form due to the restrictions set out by Islam discouraging idolatry. In other words, it is forbidden to portray sentient beings in art to prevent the worship of idols. So Muslim artists found other ways to visually express themselves and their religion through geometric patterns, arabesque art, and calligraphy. This calligraphy takes decades to master, Moslem notably said of the art, “If you practice for 20 years you can become an amateur.” How anyone has the patience (and steady hand) to master such an intricate and time-intensive art amazes me and I have the utmost respect for Moslem and his fellow calligraphers. There is a lot of memorization involved as well as a skillful hand. Calligraphers must know the exact proportions of each letter they write to the other; diamonds drawn next to the letters serve as a sort of standard. The geometrical aspect of the calligraphy¬†is impressive and would take far longer than the hour we had to fully understand. There are entire research papers and books dedicated to understanding the connection between Islamic art and geometry. Moslem showed us a slideshow with several different styles of calligraphy and my favorite was the kind that formed outlines of animals using words or Zoomorphic Calligraphy. At the end of his presentation, Moslem gave a live demonstration by drawing some of the attendees’ names and passed around his portfolio of works. My conclusion: Persian calligraphy is an amazing art form and I am glad there are still people who dedicate their¬†lives to preserving this cultural tradition.

Learn more about the relationship between geometry and calligraphy here.

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