A)  Types of scripts

Iranian scripts

Iranian script is a part of the Islamic script that gradually emerged based on the Iranian culture in Iran and the territories related to Islam or concurred by Islam such as the countries in the central Asia, Afghanistan as well as the Indies.

After Muslim conquest in Iran, calligraphy was only in the form of Naskh (script). When the Timurid Empire reigned in Iran, Mir Ali Tabrizi strengthened Calligraphy that was made by combining Naskh and Taʿlīq script.

Later on, Thuluth was produced and used for the religious affairs such as writing Quran, ahadith, the narratives and the inscriptions in the mosques and the religious schools then became even more common to the Arabs.

Taʿlīq script

Taʿlīq script could be considered as the first Iranian script which is also called Tercel that came out since the first seventh century and lasted for about a hundred years and then gradually lost its popularity. Taʿlīq script that was mostly used as the calligraphic sample to write letters and government commands that had many circular letters as well as a huge potential to present various combinations and compositions.

A sample of Taʿlīq script with Khajeh Ekhtiar Monshi Gonabadi handwriting (974 AH)

Nastaʿlīq script

As the two scripts such as Naskh and Taʿlīq were combined, a new script was emerged entitled Nashkhtaʿlīq. As long as this script was used a lot its name changed to Nastaʿlīq that Iran is proud of such art. As the masterpieces testify, Nastaʿlīq script is known as the most beautiful Islamic script among the Iranian and Arabic scripts and is called “The Bride of the Islamic Scripts”. It has been of great fortune and has made a gigantic revolution to the art of calligraphy.

A sample of a Nastaʿlīq script by Mir Emad

Nastaʿlīq Cursive

Nastaʿlīq Cursive, the third pure Iranian script was emerged in the mid-eleventh century. The ruler of Harat, Morteza Gholi Khan Shamlo was one of the people who was engaged in creating and strengthening this novel script. The reason why this script emerged was the need for fast writing and easy writing in secretary ship affairs and of course the intellectual taste as well as the Iranian art creativity. Since writing Nastaʿlīq necessitated great care and it was time-consuming, Nastaʿlīq Cursive was made of the amalgamation of the impotent Taʿlīq script and the delicate Nastaʿlīq script so that it could have both speed and beauty at the same time.


By Israfil Shirchi (Poem by Omar Khayyam)

Novel Iranian Scripts

Moalla Script

In the recent years, there has been novel types of scripts that have sparkled a lot. As an example, Moalla is well-known today and is applied as a graphic script to produce the artistic masterpieces. This script is founded by Hamid Ajami. Length and the convolution of the letters in the words are some of the features of Moalla script. Another feature of Moalla script is that it has the letters and the words intertwined so that the letters could go back and forth within one another. There are a number of calligraphers who are trying to expand this script under the supervision of Hamid Ajami. Moalla is mostly used in Line Writing (Satrnevisi) and Piece Writing (Ghatenevisi) rather than in Rasm. The most important features of this script is that it has many sharp curves and the frame breakings that are closer to modern spirit of human being and a high potential to be used in architecture.

The name of Ali (Alaih-e Salam)


Islamic Scripts

Thuluth Script

Thuluth Script is one of the significant techniques in Islamic calligraphy and is one of the six principle Islamic scripts. Thuluth has a steady and solemn structure which is used more in designing the books and inscriptions. Thuluth is used to write the headings of the chapters of the Quran, the book’s back cover, captions and particularly writing on the epigraphs as well as the tile works that are still popular.


Thuluth Script on an epigraph in Taj Mahal in India which is written in Amanat Khan Shirazi Script

Naskh Script

Naskh is an invented script in the early third century AH which means transcribing and copying. Naskh has been common since the last second century that was not regularly applied until the late third century. This script spread around the eastern lands that were conquered by Islam. The Iranians used a kind of Naskh which was fairly different for to be used in other kinds of calligraphy such as Rasm. The main advantage of this kind of script was considering the connection between the words which is one of the important rules of calligraphy and makes the script more beautiful.


Sūrat al-Fātiḥah  in Naskh Script


Various styles of calligraphy

A calligraphy work can be presented in different frames and styles. Every single of these frames have particular principles and conditions which should be considered by the artist so that we could achieve the right result. These frames are: one line, two lines, Siyah Mashq or Black Practice, Chiasm, Rasm, Piece Writing and Epigraph.

Line Writing (Satr Nevisi)

A line or Satr is a subset of words and sentences that are placed on the baseline. Line is the easiest frame to present the written works in calligraphy and is of the important bases. A line could be possibly a whole sentence or consist of various sentences. 

In some scripts, particularly Nastaʿlīq, some of the letters are not written where they should and are put over the last word before, this way, the lines become in order. Writing the letters and words on top make the blacks and whites more parallel in a calligraphy work. The lines in calligraphy especially in Nastaʿlīq ascend the lines. It means that they are written a little above the line or on the word before which means finishing the line.


A sample of Line Writing (Satr Nevisi)

Two Lines Writing

In writing two lines or one verse, the rules of line writing in both lines should be considered. The space between the two lines or two verses are based on the length of each line and its height is approximately 12 to 15 points. The lines especially in Nastaʿlīq should not be written under one another; but the beauty is the priority and the places they should be drawn is related to their tastes, interests and creativity. Two Lines Writing is mostly used to write verses in poems.


A sample of two lines writing

Siah Mashq or Black Practice, is another form of calligraphy that could be used to present a beautiful work of art; most of these arts are related to Miremad which holds a great beauty and manifests professional skills.

Today, the Siah Mashq works written by noteworthy calligraphers are invaluable. In the area of calligram, Siah Mashq is used a lot as the capital.


A sample of Siah Mashq


Chaism is one of the best and most beautiful form of calligraphy especially Nasta’liq which consists of four lines or the set of two forms including two lines in which the lines are drawn diagonal and curved. Chaism is the best frame for Quatrain and Do-bayti (two-couplet). In chaism, the lines are very carefully written where they should. Symmetry between the full and empty spaces, makes the balance in writing the pieces and chaism and shows them more elegant. The lines in chaism should not be very short or long. Usually the letters in chaism are about 1.5 to 2.5 millimeters. Various combinations in chaism diverse, one part of it relates to the stretches of the lines and their adjustment.


A sample of Chaism


Rasm means writing, but is an expression and frame to write books in calligraphy. Rasm has a frame to present fine writings and has a lot of usage in book writing. Before the printing industry, all the books were written by hand. Reed pen is a more suitable tool for Rasm which is stronger and thinner than a usual pencil. Microscopic Rasms are called hidden Rasms, and a little bold Rasm is called manifest Rasm. All the regulations for line writing (Satr nevisi) should be followed in the lines of rasm.

The most important work of rasm is by Seyyed Hossein Mirkhani which a quran that is written in Nasta’liq. Today, rasm is used to produce and present a beautiful segment.



   A sample of Rasm


Calligram is a contemporary phenomenon in the area of visual arts that recently has been emerged in some of the Islamic countries. Some believe that calligram is a combination of calligraphy and grafics and some believe that calligram is a kind of calligraphy that needs painting and drawing techniques to be done.

The creators of calligram are looking for a language and expression that are universal and understandable for everyone who works in calligraphy. The creators of calligram believe that an artist can produce works of art to transfer his/her emotions and thoughts to the audience through using the recognition of visual and pictorial types of handwriting and exploiting the features of the colors free from the limitations and language and script variation all over the world.


Calligram is a technique in Modern painting and Iranian contemporary calligraphy


Modern Calligram