Introducing the art of Arabic, Ottoman, & Persian calligraphy


(pronounced “Dee-wa-nee”)


  • “Divani” is derived from the word “divan,” the name for the Ottoman royal chancery


  • Used in the Ottoman court to write official documents, including proclamation scrolls, edicts, land and title grants, appointments, correspondence, endowments, etc.


  • Developed in the 16th century
  • Reached its artistic peak in the 19th century
  • Still in use today

Distinctive characteristics

  • Wide spaces appear between lines
  • Lines ascend upward as they move from right to left
  • When written in large (djali or jali) form, the empty spaces in the script are filled with small dots in a veil of decorative detail
  • Letters and words that don’t connect on the left are often connected in this script (unauthorized ligatures)


  • Divani is difficult to read and write in its large (djali or jali) form because of its extreme stylization and the number of unauthorized connections. This made Divani an ideal script for court documents, because it insured confidentiality and protected them from forgery
Basmala Circle
Jali Divani composition. Work by Wissam Shawkat. Iraq/U.A.E. Image courtesy of the artist.
Imperial edict of Sultan Ahmed II
Divani script. Freer Galler of Art.
Page of Calligraphy
Divani script. The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Tugra of Murad III
Divani script. Courtesy of the Nasser D Khalili Collection of Islamic Art.

Image gallery

View the full divani image gallery