ART-228: Arabic Calligraphy

Liberal Arts
Fine & Performing Arts
Art (Art History)
Academic Level
Course Subject
Course Number
Course Title
Arabic Calligraphy
Credit Hours
Instructor Contact Hours Per Semester
47.00 (for 15-week classes)
Student Contact Hours Per Semester
47.00 (for 15-week classes)
Grading Method
Eligible to take ENG courses at HFC
Catalog Course Description

Introduces students to the history and development of different styles of Arabic Calligraphy- both traditional and modern. Students will learn the use of the traditional letters writing in the Kufic, Thuluth, Ruq`ah, Diwani, Naskh and modern styles. By the end of the course, students should be able to produce calligraphic compositions of their own by utilizing the rules of measurement and creativity. They will also be able to distinguish between various styles in historical calligraphic monuments. Basic knowledge of the Arabic language is helpful, but not necessary. As a part of this course, students will visit the Detroit Institute of Art.

Goals, Topics, and Objectives

Goal Statement
  • To develop succinct understanding and appreciation to the history and development of Arabic calligraphy since its early phase in the 7th century CE.
  • To gain academic knowledge of the development of the various styles of calligraphy through understanding the chronology, political, religious and social development since the 7th century CE.
  • To train student with studio practice in the main styles of Arabic calligraphy as a major visual expression in Arabic-Islamic art.
  • To understand the historic artistic interaction of Arabic calligraphy with major cultural trends throughout the different periods in the Arab and Islamic world
  • To explore, comprehend and learn the fundamentals of professional classical Calligraphy and their functional use on architectural structures both religious and secular.
  • To understand and be able to utilize the use of modern Arabic calligraphy in a creative relationship between the artistic forms of calligraphy and other forms of visual art such as ornamentation on pottery, ceramic tiles, application in Graphic Design, Interior Design and modern architecture.
Core Course Topics
  1. Arabic calligraphy and alphabets development and structure
    • Describe the history and development of Arabic calligraphy art.
    • Recognize different calligraphic styles as visual art forms.
    • Describe the different styles of calligraphy and their chronological development in different architectural structures, manuscripts, and other objects.
  2. Arabic calligraphy styles
    • Describe the development of the main styles and their variations chronologically.
    • Produce calligraphy in the following styles: Kufic, Thulth, Naskh, Muhaqqaq, Rayhani, Diwani, Tawqi, Riqah.
    • Explain the artistic/cultural identity of each specific style and its variations on the aesthetics of the space it occupies in the given region-period.
    • Apply through practice basic rules of classical Arabic calligraphy in different styles.
  3. Monumental works in manuscripts and architectural structures
    • Analyze important works of calligraphy chronologically in early manuscripts and important copies of Quran.
    • Examine calligraphic compositions in both religious and secular buildings such as the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem, the great mosque of Cordoba and the Al-Hamra complex in Spain, the Taj Mahal in India, Sultan Hasan complex in Cairo, Egypt, Al-Ahmadiyyah mosque in Istanbul, Turkey and others.
    • Identify masterpieces of historic monumental Arabic calligraphy in various buildings, manuscripts, metal, glass, pottery, jewelry, and woodwork.
    • Analyze and apply the rules of traditional Arabic calligraphy and its use on various architectural monuments and their decoration in this field.
    • Explain the symbolism and function of different forms of calligraphy in relation to the religious, ritualistic, and social usage.
  4. Geometric design, ornamentation, floral composition, and vegetal decoration
    • Describe and apply ornamentations to calligraphic compositions through the use of traditional decorative vocabularies such as floral, geometric and vegetal units.
    • Produce creative calligraphic works of art while utilizing modern decorative elements.
    • Compare and contrast the different artistic trends, styles, techniques and mediums of the various forms of Arabic calligraphy as a visual art.
  5. Zoomorphic calligraphic creation
    • Analyze zoomorphic calligraphic creations such as human figure, animals, birds, and other objects in calligraphic composition.
    • Identify the choice of the proper text in creating zoomorphic calligraphic design.
  6. Arabic calligraphy art impact on the art of European Early and High renaissance artists
    • Describe the spread of Arabic calligraphy and its impact on the work of European artists during the early and high Renaissance, especially in Italy during the 14th - 16th centuries.
    • Analyze important sample of such impact in works of painting and sculpture that depicts Biblical narratives, religious figures, and Christian icons from that period.
    • Explain the exchange, interaction, impact, and influence of Arabic calligraphy on the other contemporary cultures.

Assessment and Requirements

Assessment of Academic Achievement
  • Class participation
  • Class discussions
  • student portfolio of calligraphic compositions
  • Student essays and/or research project
  • DIA visit and corresponding report
  • Quizzes and/or exams as determined by the instructor and described in the course syllabus

Determined by the instructor.


Satisfies Wellness Requirement

Credit for Prior College-Level Learning

Options for Credit for Prior College-Level Learning
Skilled Demonstration
Portfolio Review
Skilled Demonstration Details

Life demonstration, given in department by department faculty. Faculty will assess demonstration based on evaluation rubric (quality and creativity). Evaluation rubric and student checklist located in Division Office.

Portfolio Review Details

Portfolio must contain evidence (samples, images, or copies of students work in calligraphy, and sample of research or articles in the field) that illustrates competency in all course learning objectives. Department faculty will evaluate submitted portfolios based on the evaluation rubric. Evaluation rubric and student checklist located in Division Office.

Interview Details

Interview, given in department by department faculty. Faculty will interview applicants based on submitted portfolio and will assess portfolio and demonstration against evaluation rubric. Evaluation rubric and student checklist located in Division Office.

Approval Dates

Effective Term
Winter 2022
ILT Approval Date
AALC Approval Date
Curriculum Committee Approval Date
Review Semester
Winter 2022