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Selections of Arabic, Persian, and Ottoman Calligraphy

African and Middle Eastern Division, Library of Congress

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During the late 1920s, early 1930s, and 1990s the Library of Congress acquired a large collection of Arabic script calligraphy sheets. This presentation exhibits 373 Arabic calligraphy sheets, ranging from the 9th to the 19th centuries. A majority of the calligraphy sheets were written on paper, however, a group of Qur’anic fragments from the 9th and 10th centuries were executed on parchment. 

Calligraphy was a skill to be mastered, and it was heavily used to express religious sentiment and many other aspects of personal and cultural life. This collection showcases stunning examples of calligraphic art. In addition to the individual calligraphy sheets, this presentation includes essays on Ottoman and Persian calligraphic styles, an in-depth look at Qur’anic calligraphic fragments, and an essay discussing some of the Library’s notable Arabic script calligraphy sheets and illuminations.

The mission of the Library of Congress is to make its resources available and useful to Congress and the American people and to sustain and preserve a universal collection of knowledge and creativity for future generations. The goal of the Library's National Digital Library Program is to offer broad public access to a wide range of historical and cultural documents as a contribution to education and lifelong learning.

The Library of Congress presents these documents as part of the record of the past. These primary historical documents reflect the attitudes, perspectives, and beliefs of different times. The Library of Congress does not endorse the views expressed in these collections, which may contain materials offensive to some readers.

Special Presentations:
Calligraphers of the Persian Tradition
Ottoman Calligraphers and Their Works
Qur'anic Fragments
Noteworthy Items

Understanding the Collection

About the Collection

Selected Bibliography

Working with the Collection

How to View

Building the Digital Collection

Copyright and Other Restrictions


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