Ahmed Moustafa, The Blue Fugue, 1976

“As well as being a practising calligrapher Ahmed Moustafa is a scholar who has shown that the proportions of Arabic script developed in the tenth century by Ibn Muqlah – one of Islams greatest calligraphers – are derived from Pythagoreon ratios of musical harmony. Consequently many of the titles of Moustafa’s calligraphic paintings include such Western musical terms as ‘cantana’ and fugue…

In the Blue Fugue, the rhythmic Arabic letters alif and lam evoke the lines of a musical stave, while the continuous repetition of the characters recalls the Islamic practice of zikr.”

Charles-Hossein Zenderoudi, Untitled, 1986

“During the late 1950s, Zenderoudi co-founded the Saqqakhaneh movement, which attempted to reconcil contemporary art with Iranian traditions and beliefs in this print, ‘Al Fatiha‘ (The Opening) of the Qur’an..It has been written in the nasta’liq script, while the Bismallah (In the name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful’) appears in Diwani style…”

Diwani was developed by Ottoman Turkish calligraphers during the fifteenth century and often used on official documents.

Nasta'liq, the 'hanging script' According to legend it was perfected by the fifteenth-century calligrapher Mir'Ali al-Tabrizi after he dreamt of flying geese. Popular in Iran and Mughal India from the 16th century

Extracted from Saeb Eigner’s Art of the Middle East: Modern and Contemporary Art of the Arab World and Iran. Merrel’s Publishers 2010.


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