Ahmad Nayrizi and Naskhi Calligraphy

Ahmad Nayrizi is remembered by aficionados of Persian calligraphy as the last great practitioner of the Naskhi style. 120 Qur'áns as well as 70 other great works are attributed to him. Many of them reside in the Golestan Museum in Tihrán. He received his religious and calligraphic training in Nayriz but spent most of his working life in Isfahan, which was the capital of Persia in the 18th century. He was an extremely successful and sought-after calligrapher and is known to have created works for the royal family for at least two decades under Sháh Sulaymán Safavi and Sháh Sultán Husayn.

Shortly after the death of Muhammad, Kufi emerged as the script used for copying Qur´áns and remained so for 300 years. It is known for its angular letters and lack of diacritical marks. Around the 10th century CE, new scripts began to replace Kufi. One of these was Naskh.

Naskh (which means "copying") script was originally used for correspondence and literary works. In the 10th century, the renowned calligrapher Ibn Muqla redesigned Naskh and applied a set of rules governing size and proportion to the script based on the letter alif. The script was further refined by Ibn Al-Bawwab and came into use for writing the Qur'án. More Qur'ans have been written in Naskhi than in any other script.

From a calligraphic perspective, Naskh is characterized by short horizontal stems and with an almost equal vertical measure above and below the midline. It has full, deep curves, and its uprights are straight. Naskh is still in use today. Because of its legibility and clarity, Naskh has been adapted to fonts used in typesetting and printing.

Ahmad Nayrizi is still regarded as its last great master. His style is known for having well formed letters, with vowels being weighted the same as consonants.

Of course a beautiful illuminated page requires more than elegantly perfected writing. It relies on painting, bordering, and various motifs. Some elements are decorative, other are functional (such as verse indicators). We can reasonably assume that Ahmad Nayrizi collaborated with other artists and artisans to create finished pages and ultimately bound volumes. These would include painters, illuminators, and bookbinders, among others.

In Islamic culture. calligraphy is not only an art form and profession, but also a vehicle of spiritual perfection. Ahmad Nayrizi was known for his skill as a calligrapher as well as for his piety and service to the poor.

Ahmad Nayrizi is still remembered and venerated today. At a wax museum in Shiraz, his likeness is on display. He is depicted in the act of writing with a larger-then-life sample of his work above and behind him.


In addition, facsimiles of his calligraphy and designs can be found in Qur'áns being published today.

Samples of Ahmad Nayrizi's Work

Calligraphy Book
Manuscript Of Prayers
Prayer Book
Covers of Versions of the Qur'an Penned by Ahmad Nayrizi (This is a link to a commercial site with which we have no affiliation.)

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