Prof. Angelo Michele Piemontese

In the beginning it was the Kufi that "as the eyewash illuminates the sight to the learned" then the abbirid vizier Ibn Muqla (M. 940) elaborated the Six Scriptures (aqlam-i sitta) derivatives: Tult, nasb, rayban, mubaqqaq, tawqi, line, with the Mongols (1250 dc) appeared the Persian taliq gushed from the last two, finally the Nastaliq: this is how the traditional scheme of Persian calligraphic treatises recites. The history of the evolution of Arabic writing is naturally more complex.

The organic nature of the system seems set in the 6th century d. C., the one before Islam. During the first caliphate, the omayyad (650-750 dc), ran the characters of the diplomat Galil 'eccelsa' (the father of all the scriptures), and of the induced cancelleresche Tumar roll, nisf half, Tult "A third", to which the Persian is later added Dibag: ar. Tumar "roll"; capsule (of amulet). Parchment (tamaro 'to bury'), 'small tome; paper ',' cut, piece; roll volume; Volume '; ar. Dibag (also pers Diba) 'silk fabric, brocade', dibaga 'preface; frontispiece '(also for dibaca).

The period of the subsequent Abbasid caliphate was crucial in the formation of all Arab-Islamic civilization: its geopolitical center, Iraq, the living forge of the new culture of the world; the fresh capital, Baghdad, truly "gift of God" as its Iranian name says. The decisive changes in writing are produced (750-950 dc) theorized then in the discussion; perfected, the principles then elaborated remained valid until the arrival of the Mongols therefore concerning Persia, when a different era began for the art of writing and the production of the book, whose full splendor was with 1 'humanism timurid (XV century ). The magnificent timurde realizations determined the guidelines for the Safavid and Moghul writing and book schools (Persia and India, 16th-17th centuries, the same for the Ottoman), and qagiara (Persia, 19th century, the 18th, Enlightenment for us, was obscurantism for them, it seems): each of which followed its own typical tastes. The great centers that interested Persia, Cairo, Baghdad, Tabriz, Esfahan, Shiraz, Mashhad, Herat. But much, too much of the ancient, pre-Mongolian period, has been lost.

  1. KUFI. Since the faith consecrates the writing, and the first is consecrated to enter the book, it was also the first canonized with the Koranic codification (VIII-IX century). And the kufi 'cufic' unique among all the Islamic scriptures to take its name from a place of its birth: the city of Kufa (South-western Iraq, on the roadside to Arabia), founded at the dawn of the conquest by an Arab colony (638 dc). Of epigraphic origin, endowed with monumental symbolic authority, adaptable to the parchment, it was the only writing of the Corani of the beginnings (c.8th-half of the tenth century).

Cufica was not exactly ideal for the set purposes, presenting: limited number and gender of letters, in embryo, contracted and uniform, deprived of diacritical and indecipherable points. The Koran dissolved it, distinguished, curled; body of the characters crushed on the staff, static, traced black (as it will be in every writing) and solid, 'brushing' of a cumbersome rind, of slow execution; desired effect: hieratic solemnity, embellished and a little animated by ornamentation. Slimmed, trimmed, in the angle, punctuated the cufic, writing of the type 'posata', retained the immobilism and the imbalance, between compact linear register and upper register of the band almost mackerel, congenital; gave way to Nashi, which would seem to slip out of it, as a frame of the envelope (X-XI century). While the Korans welcome other more swift scriptures, in step with the movement of spreading the faith, the cufic is diverted towards the facades and ornamental parts of the book: addition of palmettes at the top, hooks at the bottom, encircling with a background plant spiers disguised the original heaviness, "smuovendola" in the writing area. It was the model of the classic treatment of columns in the Korans and luxury books: writing with hooks, especially the Tult in a field of vegetable volutes, possibly stained by small flowers and leaflets.

The progress of executive and ornamental growth of Kufic, registered on the medium paper, they stimulated the artistic development on marble, brick, stucco, ceramics, metal and fabric, where it was instead ductile and rich in ranges: rectangular, flowery, embroidered, round, stylized, even 'sliding' (ceramic). Voted to hardiness and to petrification, Cufica found its true realization in monumental epigraphy and architectural ornamentation, where it was solid, marked, extraordinarily long-lived, a bit like the Roman square capital. Writing of ideological species, preferred by the mosque, it climbs on pinnacles, stands out in facades and walls, nestles in the tiles, expresses ideals and dictates of dynasties (such as the Ghaznavide of Iran, XI-XII century): its classical varieties, sun, are defined by political regions; some of the ornamental, and of the book columns (where it was used until the fifteenth century c.), has a character close to the Gothic, which according to some authors just from it would have impelled impulse (see also the likely contact between Arabic writing and Latin writing in the case of the "corsiva mozarabica").

  1. muhaqqaq. Simultaneously with the formation of the tiny carolina in the curia of the Frankish Kingdom, the chancelleries of the Arab Empire worked on the elaboration of an emancipated cursive from the ancient blanket of scribes and stonemasons. The cancellations in Omayyad were large and stubby (the Tumar and companions demanded enormous calamuses) with little functionality, but under the caliph Abbaside Harun al-Rascid the scope of the Muslim diplomacy had extended, using the paper, from the T'ang to Charlemagne. The Iraqi "caliphal" came out, the muhaqqaq 'Done'.

This is compact, silhouetted, decisive, airy writing. It sharpens identi of the graphemes (class IV), it returns the eyelets (III, V-VI, VIII), lengthens the stretches laces (VII-VIII), arcua the tails, sinks under the line of the line the tronconi (XII-XIII) making them then go up with hooked branches, infilza the whole with high perpendicular rods (Vb, IX-X), studded with a sharp rhomboidal punctuation. Result, in the mature phase: vertical bars (above) laying at a great angle on the sliding axis, where they take place in the undulations of the knots (center, base), or link up to the opposite edge of the sword-shaped irons (below the line of the staff) ; the auction ofalif it acts as a sextant or rudder bar, scans the interiors, compotes the angles, defines the height of the fascia. Majestic of conformation, impetuous for the "brushing" features, the muhaqqaq it was the favored writing of large-format corans, perhaps marking the apex of cursives (XIII-XIV centuries), but growing too much in the expansion of spaces and lengthening of laces, and pulling behind the dense hatching of the Kufic, whose liturgical courtesy remained unmatched. Excessive waste because this «cubital» made much progress, even only as a decorative one, on the path of the book, which finally rejected it in favor of the Tult.

Since the system does not provide for the differentiation of the grapheme in capitalized and small letters along the syntagma, nor interpunction, it is remedied with the grading of the scale of the module on various measures: gali 'shining, radiant, ostentatious; full ', great; Hafi nestled, hidden; thin ', minute; Guhar 'dust': very small, so as to be distinguishable from eye drops with eye drops, in the absence of a magnifying glass, and rather delight, calligraphic divertissement in which we will specialize Nashi, not for nothing the most ordered of the scriptures. The variation of scale, however, is allowed, practiced, in different parts of the book (the titles / text), which usually involves and accepts a single, the median between the Hafi e gali, therefore anonymous, except when you have a mixed or bilingual text (eg dictionary, commentary, Arabic-Persian, Turkish-Persian).

Also, in this case it is a good idea to use a spelling in a larger body for the main text, and a different one in a minor body (ex. Nashi e sekaste) for the secondary, equally black ink, or red for the glossed text; it is a common rule to write in a single spelling, scale and coloring, as required by the fundamental requirement of compactness of the system, limiting itself to a redraying in red of the words / phrases recalled.

The black two-color (ordinary and main text) / red (secondary text or particular member, exceptional of the first) ensures graphic alternation, with much greater clarity of the "round / italic" of our printed books, as on the glossy white sheet of those Persian manuscripts stand out the clearest contrast, brighter to the sight, continuous black trace / point of red (see the Greek incarnations in red and black, the opening words + / explicit of the mss. Late-antique in alternating red and black etc.). Of course, always in titles and glossatures, the luxury book uses colored inks or painted inscriptions, and other minutiae of flowering (eg to conveniently space the verses of poetry), but the canon is also here: plain text, solid, black , continuous, points and red lines.

As already seen from Cufic, the book selects the scriptures produced by the system, and shares the tasks, not rejecting a priori none (they arrive, or are assigned, to the book after the proof of the Book). The uncoordinated, bulky, ungainly, coquettish or bully, are disadvantaged, end up in the spaces provided for rubrics and cartouches. There Rayhan 'basil' or Rihani «Basilica», a small-scale derivative of the muhaqqaq, therefore economize, it reduces the extroversion: it restricts the spacing on the staff, it modifies laces and traits, but, with that name, it does not correct the exuberant setting. In the short term, the career ended with the degree of pensioners of luxury books: the addition of columns and newspapers.

  1. Tult. Also rubricata this, among the cancellerschecal calipers had emerged the Tult (o tulut, 'a third', is not clear with respect to what: perhaps, the inclination of the vertical lines of the graphemes compared to the line of the line; according to someone ⅓ is the original form of this writing with respect to the measure of the traditional papyrus scroll, cm. 14.5X18). Between extension of the horizontal features and elevation of the vertical, we remain in the typological exaggeration of the muhaqqaq, and, against the finiteness of this, on the branch of awkwardness.

The ramshackle, however, make messs without harassment: move the waters, make color, bring joy. Disproportionate, misplaced, the Tult so it holds its pace thanks to its flexibility: the ripple of the muhaqqaq on the midline it is extended to the whole ductus, with general characterization and homogeneity. The laces of the graphemes are now to be folded and stretched (curved, contracted, stretched) to pleasure in the sense of the path (forward to the left), which indeed favors, for the possibility of superimposing elements "final graphic of strip in letters or strokes that leave an empty space on the right, and to prepare for an accordion movement, with which the spacing is guaranteed.

But malleability, if it is convenient in a single writing space, in the filling of a first line, is not replicable in infinite succession, as for a true cursive, which is assigned by the law of uniformity. If it did not find this, the book has the right rubricatrice suitable for its parts of representation, the standard of the cartouche, where the Tult there was a fixed or prevalent place, and uninterrupted use; primacy among the sisters aqlàm-ì sitta, which did not even touch the ideal italics Nashi, for a long time in desuetude, causes a revival of Persian book taste. Like any self-respecting ornamental writing, the Tult served monumental and artistic decoration; in the Timurido-Safavid age, executed on glazed tiles, it was the Galì tout court, and often the variant musalsal 'chained'.

Crossing of Tult and of the 'cancelleresca' (Diwani) Persian looks like the Tuğra, the chained par excellence, monumental signature to precious colored inks, meandering icon, handwriting pyramid and paper of Safavid emperors and, especially, Ottomans (but also, in black ink, of règoli, governors and Viziers), which sometimes sneaks into the closing of the pompous book. Here, in the colophon where it is an autograph signature, typically in large format corals, usually other writings from the cartouche, induced by the tult: tawqi 'registration, annotation, signature', and its small-scale variant Riqa '(from) piece, coupon, ticket', exercised by calligraphers on individual sheets, as the mixed 'flowing, good', in turn typical of the oblique headers of the firmans (diplomas) Timurido-Safavidi.

Proportionate in the structure, sanctioned, the Tult it is Koranic writing, like muhaqqaq and rayhan.

  1. Nashi. Approval of graphical features and functional balance to their correct execution (dimension, shape, angle, spacing, cadence) are found with the Nashi 'transcriptional', o nash 'transcription', from ar. nasaha 'transcribe, copy', Nusha written, copy; manuscript, code, book '(usually for nusha-yi hatti in the last meaning). Of origins, it seems, epigraphic and introduced (better sanctioned) in the califfal chancellery from Ibn Muqla, "The inventor" of the six sisters, the Nashi it is already found on the peaks of perfection in a celebrated Quran of Ibn Bawwàb (1000 c.). It is the first, true cursive book, the outcome of the complex plurisecular experimentation of Kufi, muhaqqaq, Rayhan e Tult.

Substantial, concrete, firm-and-move, the Nashi find the medium, productive module of such «cursive», adjusting its outline, structure, inclination, distribution, effectiveness of the ductus, whose rhythmic undulation is half-hidden, carried by its internal flow, not basaltic (Kufi) or exaggerated (muhaqqaq) or messed up (Tult). The key to the graphic system, which opens up the flowing and clear ductus, therefore adaptable to the calligraphic expressiveness, from which it is enriched and varied without letting itself be moved by the fundamental connotations, is the coordination of the high / continuous / low overhangs and the ligature contrast / caesura in the operation of the calamo on the plane of the sheet, along the line of the staff. Operational practicality is achieved.

La Nashi it is the Koranic and librarian writing of the second Islamic clasicism (the first Persian, c. mid-X-XIII centuries), the most widespread and important from Egypt to "Eastern Islam", Persia and surrounding areas (which it has hegemonized); the Muslim West was instead the domain of 'Maghreb ', cursed cousin of the Nashi.

This adapted well, on the grand scale, to the needs of the ornate, illuminated, luxurious and monumental book; the same validity proved in the common books, where his vitality stood out; the apex, both of standardization in the scanty book, and of the canonicity in the valuable book, extends from the Thousand to the fourteenth century.

Under the Mongols and the Timurids part and accentuate its descending parable in the frequency of use, especially for books of fine literature, causes the emergence of a new concurrent cursive of Persian generation. Perhaps because he is the daughter of the authentic mother; there Kufi «Grown» on the books, the Nashi has a certain angular angularity, retains a nuance of rigidity in its character line, which is then the essence of this "tiny tondo", classifiable as a semicorsive: the slight slowing that results in the executive plane is precisely the segmental support and the moment of calm that agrees with a "reasoned" writing which is the Nashi. Measured on median clarity, it is a guide to the distinction for reading, and a stimulus for reflection: it transmits thought, since it is conceived to "transcribe" a message. When this is really important, pre-eminent, and decree the writing of the book, with which no other play ends, even in periods of partial eclipse the Nashi remains the irreplaceable book round: then it is with greater clarity specialized writing, as well as for the Korans, for the historiographical and scientific literature.

The incisiveness of the Nashi it is canonical, wisely modulated, in the copying of historical, mathematical, geometrical and astronomical texts, and to look closely at its characteristic varieties, such as the 'mathematical-astronomical'. On the other hand, after the decline (XIII-XV centuries) and the eclipse (XVI-XVIII centuries) the Nashi he took the revenge: strong of its nature, the rigor of the right means, it was the one chosen in the press (XX century). The standard characters of the Nashi today it is the normal "printed" writing in the whole Islamic world.

  1. Nastaliq. Now, the librarian vocation of the Nashi, and its tendency to crystallization, accept modulations on the register of its stubborn bass, the distinction, but can not bear to be too strained on the string, or calligraphic elaboration (which, more than anything else, plays on scalar measures), you want a continuous evolution of cursive: it's a limitation, when the production of the book is directed by aesthetic ends and tastes. There Nashi it was therefore destined to 'lose ground on the book field, when a new art or conception of this was established in the Persia of Mongols and Timurids (late XIII-XV centuries), thanks to the encounter of the great experience of Egyptian-Iraqi production (and, in Persia itself, selgiuchide), with the executive and pictorial technology of Chinese origin: from the graft there arose a different way, a more refined taste of writing and ornamentation of the book.

The concurrent writing was the cancelleresca taliq 'suspended', oblique with respect to the line, created (it seems) in the XIII century, codified in the XIV, adopted in Persian or Persian school post-Mongolian chancelleries (Timurid, Ottoman, Safavid, Moghui). Powerful and arbitrary, as someone has defined it, the taliq pressed to enter the book: he had won the name of typical Persian writing, the first of mother country. But in order to really succeed, he needed a suitable script, which would dilute his erased character.

What could be, the bold, to scratch the serenity of the Nashi ?

This had an aesthetic limit that put her in trouble, but after all, among the ancient six sisters, she was the only one evolved in books: it could not be replaced, and peace.

Therefore, a mediation was necessary, among the claims of the taliq and the integrity of the Nashi. The mixed rose Nastaliq, artificial and hybrid also in the name (nashi + taliq). The coincidences will be random, but not entirely insignificant: at about the same time, the Italian humanists, dissatisfied with the rigid Gothic linearism, made up the 'semigotica' book (what is the nashì in correlation with the Kufi ?) to reach the airy elegance of the littera antiqua, refined and inclined as "cancelleresca italica"; it was, in essence, roughly the line of research of late-Mongol and Timurid, Persian and Turkish humanists. Grafting of mature times, the nasttflìq "Persica" emigrated with his amanuensis to the areas where the Persian literary taste predominated: Ottoman Empire (already under Muhammad the Conqueror) and Moghul, evolving in respective varieties (plump and heavy Indian, of poor refinement the Turkish).

La Nastaliq it is of a synthetic-figural type, and calculated to eflect: «absorption» of the trace and of the writing in the frame of the object book. She loves the long writing and the soft nuance of the letters: she smoothes and brushes back the laces lying on the line of the staff (classes VII, VIII a), unites and lengthens the teeth (IV) with a sickle, obtaining a sinuous horizontal stretch that makes from the ruler of the writing range, as the auction (X) was the sextant of the muhaqqaq- then, tighten the eyelets (III, V-VI), swell in half-moon the tails (I-II, IV-V a, IX b), dissolve the curl (III), plunges the trunks (XII-XIII).

The cancellational obliquity of the talìq, learned the angle lesson of the Nashi, is corrected with a relaxed and turgid ductus, spatial-linear guide, balancing of the high field, is the elongated bar of IX to whose bias general character is softened to (S), while 'the perpendicular rods (V b, IX b, X) are thinning, almost to appear from "wings". It is a bit 'the reverse of the plant muhaqqaq, which was shipwrecked in the waste of space (emptying of the writing band).

As "relaxing", the layout of the Nastaliq instead, it fills it in a few jets: at the end of line, especially with poetic lines, and frequent writing a final stroke (or letter) above a plate (eg VII c) with backward turn to the right, and filling the empty segment up. It is a fallback to which other writings also occur (Tult, nashi), if they do not prefer to curb or crumple the character that "comes to the limit of the left margin of the line, impassable for the prohibition of the breaking of the word and its alineatura; in Nastaliq the remedy becomes functional, ensuring a greater equilibrium on the vertical of the field: if possible, if the "final letter" VII b is present, the detachment of the overlapped line, with respect to the line of the line, is remedied by the backward stretching of the tail of VII b, like our doodles that underlines a signature. Sanctioned by the calligraphers Mir Ali Tabrizi and Sultan Ali Mashadi (XV century), the sliding and capricious nastcfliq you the favorite book writing until the nineteenth century, specialized in the art book, e. in the representation of the poetic text or of literary intent: it entered in epigraphy (from the XVI century), but so much coquetry did not accept it to the Koranic inscription.

  1. VARIOUS. Safavide variant of the Nastaliq, its reduced scale (therefore sharpened in the ductus) with backfire cancellation (towards the taliq), and the sekasté 'broken / breaking', a synthetic script that shatters graphemes, words and graphic norms, composing pieces of homogeneous pen jets by itself. There sekaste it is the corsivissima: perfected (seventeenth century), enters the book (eighteenth-nineteenth centuries), becomes ministerial, merchant, epistolary, daily, ordinary.

Other important writings that enter into a sense of perfection, or some point at the moment in the Persian book, are: bihari Indian, specialized in the Koran or its commentary (Tafsir) with the Arabic text in the middle and the Persian comment in the margin (nashi); there siyaqat 'ciphered writing, on account', the mercantile curse, homologated on the scale of numbers (of Indian origin, these are written from left to right, as we do). In addition, the fantastic or figural, bench of calligraphic virtuosity, combinations of scythes and hooks in a snaking path that outline animals, buildings, boats, etc.

with the pre-text of Koranic or poetic passages: Tavus 'peacock', Larzè 'Flickering', Golzar 'flower bed' (bodies of letters strewn with flowers), zolf-e arùs 'wedding curl' (with oval letters and curled tails), Hilali 'crescent', badr al-kamal 'a lunapiena' (filling the queues), Manasir 'from diplomas' (twisted tails in one direction or another, according to write of praise, promotion, or blame, derogation), mutannà 'ambiguous, twofold, double': the same written addressed and united on the plane, therefore "visible" specularly, on the right and the reverse at the same time; and via drawing.

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