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Nastaliq script

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is one of the main genres of Islamic calligraphy. It was developed in Iran in the 14th and 15th centuries. Although it is sometimes used to write Arabic text (where it is known as Taliqor Farsiand is mainly used for titles and headings), it has always been more popular in the Persian, Turkic, and South Asian spheres of influence. has extensively been (and still is) practiced in Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan as a form of art. A less elaborate version of serves as the preferred style for writing Persian and Urdu, and it is often used alongside Naskh for Pashto. was historically used for writing Ottoman Turkish, where it is known as talik' .

is amongst the most fluid calligraphy styles for the Arabic alphabet. It has short verticals with no serifs, and long horizontal strokes. It is written using a piece of trimmed reed with a tip of 510 mm, called "qalam" , and carbon ink, named "davat." The nib of a qalam is usually split in the middle to facilitate ink absorption.

Two important forms of panels are Chalipa and Siah-Masq. A Chalipa panel usually consists of four diagonal hemistiches (half-lines) of poetry, clearly signifying a moral, ethical or poetic concept. Siah-Masq ("inked drill") panels however communicate via composition and form, rather than content. In Siah-Masq, repeating a few (sometimes even one) letters or words virtually inks the whole panel. The content is thus of less significance and not clearly accessible.


After the Islamic conquest of Persia, Iranians adopted the Perso-Arabic script and the art of Arabic calligraphy flourished in Iran alongside other Islamic countries. Apparently, Mir Ali Tabrizi (14th century) developed by combining two existing scripts of and . Hence, it was originally called .

thrived gradually, and many prominent calligraphists contributed to its splendor and beauty. It is believed that reached its highest elegance in Mir Emad's works. The current practice of is, however, heavily based on Mirza Reza Kalhor's manner. Kalhor modified and adapted to be easily used with printing machines, which in turn helped wide dissemination of his transcripts. He also devised methods for teaching and specified clear proportional rules for it, which many could follow.

The Mughal Empire used Persian as the court language during their rule over the Indian subcontinent. During this time, came into widespread use in South Asia, including Pakistan, India, and Bangladesh. The influence remains to this day. In Pakistan, almost everything in Urdu is written in the script, concentrating the greater part of Nastaliq usage in the world. In Hyderabad, Lucknow, and other cities in India with large Urdu-speaking populations, many street signs and such are written in . Also, The education system in India recognises Urdu as a language of preference to students who wish to opt it as their first language and the quality of the training is of high standards. The situation of in Bangladesh used to be the same as in Pakistan until 1971, when Urdu ceased to remain an official language of the country. Today, only a few neighborhoods (mostly inhabited by Biharis) in Dhaka and Chittagong retain the influence of the Persian and .

is a descendant of and . Shekasteh Nasta`liq (literarily "broken ") style is a successor of .

Notable Nasta`liq calligraphists

Mir Ali Tabrizi

Mir Emad

Mirza Buzurg-i-Nuri


And others: Mirza Jafar Tabrizi, Abdul Rashid Deilami, Sultan Ali Mashadi, Mir Ali Heravi, Emad Ul-Kottab, Gholam Reza Esfehani and Mirza Reza Kalhor.

And among contemporary artists: Hassan Mirkhani, Hossein Mirkhani, Abbas Akhavein and Qolam-Hossein Amirkhani.

The Spellings of Urdu e Moala


Islamic calligraphy was originally used to adorn Islamic religious texts, specifically the Qur'an, as pictorial ornaments were prohibited in Islam. Therefore, a sense of sacredness always hovered in the background of calligraphy.

A disciple was supposed to qualify himself spiritually for being a calligrapher, besides learning how to prepare qalam, ink, paper and more importantly master . For instance see Adab al-Masq, a manual of penmanship, attributed to Mir Emad.

Nasta`liq typesetting

Urdu is a language of expression and is written from right to left.Producing high quality in print is a demanding process.

Nastaleeq Typography first started with the attempts to develop a metallic type for the script but all such efforts failed. Fort William College developed a Nastaleeq Type, which was not close enough to Nastaleeq and hence never used other than by the college library to publish its own books. State of Hyderabad Dakan (now in India) also attempted to develop a Nastaleeq Typewriter but this attempt miserably failed and the file was closed with the phrase Preparation of Nastaleeq on commercial basis is impossible. Basically, in order to develop such a type, thousands of pieces are required.

Modern Nastaleeq typography began with the invention of Noori Nastaleeq which was first created as a digital font in 1981 through the collaboration of Mirza Ahmad Jamil TI (as Calligrapher) and Monotype Imaging (formerly Monotype Corp & Monotype Typography). Although this was a ground-breaking solution employing over 20,000 ligatures (individually designed character combinations) which provided the most beautiful results, and allowed newspapers such as Pakistan's Daily Jang to use digital typesetting instead of an army of calligraphers, it suffered from two problems in the 1990s: a) its non-availability on standard platforms such as Windows or Mac, and b) the non-WYSIWYG nature of text entry, whereby the document had to be created by commands in Monotype's proprietary page description language.

Nasta`liq electronic Publishing & DTP

In 1994, InPage Urdu which is a fully functional page layout software for Windows akin to Quark XPress was developed for Pakistan's newspaper industry. This was done by a software development team- Concept Software Pvt Ltd- led by Rarendra Singh & Vijay Gupta, with the input & help of a UK company called Multilingual Solutions (Limited) led by Kamran Rouhi. They licensed and improved the Noori Nastaliq font from Monotype at that time. This font with its vast ligature base of over 20,000 is still used in the current version of the software (V 2.93)

InPage has been widely marketed & sold in the UK, India and elsewhere since 1994, and is utilized in the majority of UK schools & local authorities where Urdu is a main language of pupils & constituents. InPage is also reported to be in use on millions of PCs in Pakistan (mainly illegal pirated version).

A less widely used system, initially developed for the Mac in the 1990s was Pak Data Management Services' Nafees Raqim and Jauher Nastaleeq. Nafees Raqim was basically an ASCII-mapped font following the Lahori Style of Nastaleeq that worked in its own environment, an ActiveX control and was a purely commercial effort. It is still in use but is proprietary software. Jauher Nastaleeq is another effort by PDMS that resembles Noori Nastaleeq and hence follows the Dehelvi Ravish of the script. But a key difference between Nafees Raqim and Jauher Nastaleeq is that Jauher is a Unicode-based OpenType font. This means that you can use it under Windows 2000 or Windows XP, for applications such as Microsoft Office and any other application as well. Jauher Nastaleeq is also not available to the masses as it is proprietary. Some sites, such as UrduNews, embed the Jauher font through Microsoft's WEFT Technology. Alternatively, Nafees Raqim requires downloading an ActiveX control in order to view.

The first publicly available attempt at developing a Unicode-based OpenType Nastaleeq font was Nafees Nastaleeq. This font was developed by FAST-NUCES in Pakistan by a team of four people led by Dr. Sarmad Hussain, others including Aamir Wali, Aatif Gulzar and calligrapher Mr. Jameel-ur-Rehmaan. This team spent 18 months to develop Nafees Nastaleeq following the Lahori Ravish of Nastaleeq. It has 900+ shapes, 103 joining rules, 77 mark placement rules, 15 kerning rules, 24 cursive attachments and 30+ ligatures. Nafees Nastaleeq was to be open source as it was funded by an American grant, but later on the team decided not to disclose its internals, and as a result the font is still free to use but sources are not available to the public. In 11/19/2007 version 1.01 beta was released under a free software license, and the source (in the form of VOLT project file) was released. Due to massive joining and mark placement rules, this font has serious performance issues.

Later on Dr. Attash Durrani, Project Director, Center of Excellence for Urdu Informatics ,National Language Authority ,Pakistan moved his Ghost Characters Theory to develop a font [Pak Nastaleeq] for Arabic script based languages. Its 1st version was released on experimental design in 2005.The joining rules then reduced to 2 with only 200 shapes, 5 mark placement rules , 1 cursive attachment rule and 0 ligature by its program manager Mr.Mohsan Hijazee of CEUI for its beta version. The Nuqta proposal of this Ghost aspect is approved by the technical committee of unicode on May 12,2008.Now 1st version release of Pak Nastaleeq font is expected soon on [nlauit.gov.pk]. The Program manager of CEUI with his team and the consultant of CEUI have already completed their work on version 1 of Pak Nastaleeq font. This will be a single font to be used for processing Arabic script based languages with one Urdu keyboard.


Faiz Lahori Nastaliq, India

Furthur Reading

Habib-ollah Feza'eli, ''Ta'lim-e Khatt, Tehran: Sorush, 1977 (in Persian)

Sheila Blair, Islamic Calligraphy'', Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2005.

See also

Persian calligraphy

Islamic calligraphy

External links

Hatvesanat.com The biggest source on Islamic Calligraphy Art. Hundreds of artists and thousands of works! (mainly )

Iranian Calligraphers Association

Center for Research in Urdu Language Processing - Download Urdu Fonts

Calligraphers' Biographies Mainly in Turkish

Nasta'liq Unicode Font by the Supreme Council of ICT Iran SCICT.ir

Free Open Type Unicode compliant fonts covering both Nasta'liq and Naskh

Free True Type font covering basic Nasta'liq.

Nasta'liq Writer for Macintosh, from the SIL. Requires QuickDraw GX or Mac OS X.

Uni-Nastaliq: Open Type Nastaliq Font and Publishing System.

Custom Arabic Calligraphy

Nastaleeq.com: A site dedicated to Nastaleeq calligraphic script


Short introduction to Persian calligraphy

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article Nastaliq script