The Art of Calligraphy

Calligraphy is the skill of writing in an attractive way. A beautiful calligraphic piece of work goes beyond normal writing; the artist has to portray refinement and faultless balance to reflect the preferred artistic appearance on paper. Calligraphy is simply a reflection of an artist’s soul and feelings; the immaculate lines on the tips of the artist’s fingers are reflected in paper for the audience to see. In calligraphy, the artist will more often than not, impress his creative skill on fundamental letter shapes so that the calligraphic letters can be more decipherable and comprehended. Calligraphy can also be more communicative and embellished that it is more observable than decipherable. This essay delves into history of calligraphy and tackles prevalent calligraphic techniques to show that, albeit calligraphy has many styles, it is usually has a theme or purpose.

Calligraphy in history

The Middle Age and medieval era are vital periods in history when calligraphy was manifest. Of the two, the Middle Age is probably one of the most prolific eras in history as far as calligraphy concerned. Calligraphic art done in this particular time has reached the society through manuscripts, documents, books and copies. During this period, techniques of writing were changing century after the other; these changes led to discovery of many types of scripts. In this era, there were many reasons to write; not only beauty and lucidity. Scripts were not always specific; they were characterized by variety. In cases where attractiveness did not matter, speed was more important than the shape of the letters; as a result, the artist could come up with “cursive”, purposeful, and not calligraphic writing. Apart from “cursive” writing, other scripts were; “formata” in which attractiveness was vital and in which writing speed was compromised; “textura” in which individual letters were beautifully woven and “non-cursive” writing.

In the Medieval era, letters are categorized into various categories using various parameters; for example, if the letters are of equal height, have ascending and descending lines of minimum span, and if they fit between two parallel horizontal lines, the writing is called “majuscule” and if the letters fall between four parallel horizontal lines, the writing is called “miniscule.” Medieval writing is more dynamic as it fuses use of capital letters, acronyms and punctuation; painting can also be done after letters are drawn to embellish the calligraphic writing.

Prevalent calligraphic techniques

English calligraphy is one of the most common techniques of calligraphy; it is mainly classified into two classes: pictographic and alphabetic calligraphies. While alphabetic calligraphy is used in expressions and words, pictographic calligraphy is used in pictures to express ideas. In English calligraphy, the European and Western alphabets are called Roman as these alphabets were invented by Romans and they have a characteristic shape. Calligraphy is a style in the many methods of writing letters of the alphabet.

In contrary, Chinese calligraphy is more of painting than writing of Chinese characters. However, just like the medieval calligraphic techniques, purpose is also very important in Chinese calligraphy. Chinese calligraphy does not entirely belong to Chinese and every character is drawn brilliantly like a flower. As opposed to Chinese calligraphy, Arabic calligraphy belongs entirely to one society: Muslims. Arabic calligraphy serves many religious purposes such as paintings of mosques. Unlike other calligraphic writings, Arabic calligraphy is characterized by specific choice of color; black was preferred in the past though brown, red, ruby and other colors are used today.


Calligraphy will always remain an elemental aspect in the history of human beings across all races and ethnic groups; both pictographic and alphabetic calligraphy have and will continue playing a pivotal role in helping the human generation understand important concepts and themes in life.

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