Arabic Script: Styles, variants, and calligraphic adaptations

by Gabriel Mandel Khan51Ib6FNV7YL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_
translated by Rosanna M Giammanco Frongia
Abbeville Press, 2001
180 pages, $35.00, hardcover (paperback available)
ISBN 978-0789207104
Rating: ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭

I like this book. One of the first illustrations is a full page image of sheet number 1256 from Letraset instant lettering. Oh my. I did love Letraset and seeing this sheet of 15mm Naskhi sets my heart aglow. Two colour illustrations, and lots of them, of all kinds of calligraphy. Not a how-to book, but information on cutting and using the calamus. Excellent two page spreads on each letter with proportions shown and styling in an astonishing number of scripts – up to thirty three! Information on vowel markings plus the orthographic and ornamental symbols  used by calligraphers to visually balance out their work. A two-page image of a typesetter’s case. And, an illustration of capital letters proposed by Muhammad Mahfuz in Egypt in 1930.

But wait! There’s more! Double page spreads for six supplemental letters used in non-Arabic languages that use the Arabic alphabet. And sometimes in Arabic. Back in 1975, in Alexandria, someone told me the best way to write my first name was not جين  but چين. Usually I just use the ج but in the back of my mind I prefer the چ, which I think of as a bit swanky.

So after each letter gets its due, there are pages of calligraphic samples and then an extensive index. Good work, this.

11534697_le-vie-dei-racconti-evento-in-memoria-dello-scrittore-sufi-gabriel-mandel-khan-milano-0Gabriel Mandel Khan was an Italian psychologist, Sufi guide, writer, and artist of Afghan descent. He was also known by the names of Gabriele Mandel Khān and Gabriele Sugana.


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