The traditional learning method
To learn Arabic script calligraphy in the traditional way, you first find a master calligrapher (someone who is licensed to teach) with whom to study. Though resources exist to help you learn calligraphy on your own, you will be most successful if you study one-on-one with an artist. Visit our resources page for help on locating a teacher or class.
The script you study depends on your background and interests. Many beginning students start with the Riq‘a script because it is smaller and simpler than other scripts. Once you have mastered Riq‘a, you can move on to more complex scripts such as Thuluth and Naskh.
Lessons are taught by demonstration. You watch as your teacher writes the meshk (“lesson or practice sheet”), then go home and practice writing it yourself. You don’t usually practice in front of your teacher, because he or she may have other students waiting. At the next lesson, your teacher corrects your work and re-writes the meshk while you observe. Once your progress is satisfactory, your teacher advances you to the next lesson.
The curriculum you will follow was established centuries ago and consists of three stages (listed below). The entire process can take many years to complete, depending upon the amount of time you devote to practice, the availability of a teacher and your natural skill level.
- Mufraddat (“Detached letters”)
Independent and paired letter forms
- Murakkabat (“Assembled letters”)
Words and phrases
- Ijaza (“License”)