Arts of the Book: Manuscripts, Folios, Bindings
Album Of Calligraphy
Qajar, 1800-50 CE
Materials and technique
Ink, opaque watercolour, and gold on paper mounted on cardboard
29.7 x 19.5 x 3.5 cm
A muraqqa' is an album in which connoisseurs and collectors mounted their favourite pieces of calligraphy and painting within a handsome binding. This example is a compilation of nineteenth-century specimens in shikasteh (broken) script. Shikasteh, or shikasteh-i nasta'liq, was developed in Iran in the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries as a response to the increased need to write documents more quickly. Unauthorised connections between letters allow the calligrapher of shikasteh to complete a word in a single pen stroke and to write much faster. These unauthorised connections, along with other devices to increase speed such as elongated letters and smoothed out letters, give shikasteh its characteristic ‘broken’ appearance (Blair 2006, pp. 441-46).
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