History of Calligraphy Writing

Calligraphy is the techniques, skills and the imprint of the calligraphers personality on the calligraphic work that results in the creation of artistic lettering through the use of a broad tip writing instrument, brush or other style of writing instrument. Since each Calligraphic work is unique to the produced work it cannot be reproduced by machine or printing presses.

V. Studley states “Calligraphy is a skill. this skill involves touch, pressure, hand movements, unity and that elusive quality we call beauty”

{V. Studley, Left-handed Calligraphy (NY:Dover, 1991 pg 8)}

Main types of Calligraphy

Western or Roman style

Brief history

One can say that artistic lettering started with the caveman when he painted pictures of his daily life on the walls of caves, it then continued on through the Egyptians who used hieroglyphics and then onto the Phoenicians who invented the first form of a written alphabet that was copied and improved on by the Greeks and Romans.

Once the Roman Empire started to decline new alphabets started to rise on the western and northern edges of the Empire, before the invention of the printing press in 1450, all books were written by hand by a scribe, with the scribes working indoors due to the Northern European climate where their basic concern was copying, preserving and glorifying the Christian religion texts.

Folio 27 from the Lindisfarne Gospels
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Book of Kells

Through the use of skilled Illuminaters, Gilders and Miniaturists they produced richly decorated pages that reflected church architecture, textiles and stained glass with the parchment pages being bound between protective covers, some examples are the Lindisfarne Gospels (500 – 900 AD) and the Book of Kells (800 AD)

Western or Roman Calligraphy has changed through time from the hardened style of the middle ages, the eloquence of the renaissance and on into the blocked dark Gothic style of the 19th century, it was a dying art until the 20th century where interest in the art form was resurrected by the introduction of the Foundation Hand font style

Chinese style

Brief history

The discovery of inscribed oracle bones from the Shang dynasty indicates that these are the first written records in Chinese history.

Chinese character symbol stencil for Courage with word in a unique and original design.

Chinese Calligraphy has lasted for over 2000 years with the two traits most revered being integrity and elegance. It also differs from western calligraphy in that the Chinese character produced represents an idea or thing rather than a word or pronunciation, with each character being located in a square area of the page

As with western scribes the character of the Chinese scribes is evident in the works that they produce.

Islamic style

Brief history

Islamic Calligraphy which includes Arabic, Ottoman and Persian styles is the calligraphic writing style of the people who share a common Islamic heritage. And as the Islamic societies moved from an oral tradition to a written tradition it became a sacred art form greatly defined by its strong ties to the Qur’an which is believed to be the word of God as revealed to the prophet Muhammad

​There are five main styles of Islamic Calligraphy with the Kufic style being recognized as the oldest while the Nasta’liq style being the most used today

There is also three regional styles, these being the​ Nasta’liq style that was developed in Persia. The Diwai style that was developed in Ancient turkey by the Ottoman Turks and the Sini style being greatly influenced by the use of a horsehair brush rather than a reed pen.

It is also worth noting that just as with the Western and Chinese Calligraphy the quality of the Calligraphic work was believed to hold clues to the character of the Calligrapher


Calligraphy in the past was used to illuminate religious texts, business and other official documents, but now it is also used on labels to tell you about the source and heritage of the contents of a package such as wine and beer bottles. It can be used in logos and props to help set a time period, location and characters used in movies. Modern style fonts are used in invitations for weddings, births, funerals, testimonials and other events











In closing

Learning Calligraphy might be easy for those who have an interest in arts and crafts, but the skills required can be developed with the right mentality, knowledge, supplies and tools

Thank you for taking the time to read my post, and I hope you found it helpful and informative. Please feel free to add your comments, suggestions and experiences below. Thanks