Calligraphy – The Beautiful Art

The art of making beautiful and elegant handwriting is called Calligraphy which requires skilled penmanship.

The literal meaning of the word calligraphy is beautiful writing. Books were written in calligraphy up until the invention of printing machines. Using quill and ink the handwriting was written onto materials like parchment or vellum. There are three main styles of calligraphy which are prevailing now. Arabic, Chinese – known as oriental style and Western or Roman are most popular modern calligraphy styles.

The range of calligraphy includes simple hand lettering to fine art pieces where the expression of the handwritten mark may take precedence over the legibility of the letters. Typography should not be confused with calligraphy.

Wedding and event invitations, maps and other works involving writing, use modern calligraphy. Today’s calligraphy has little to do with the artistic discipline of each character. It is simply good penmanship that attracts attention and has a distinct style of its own. This type of calligraphy is referred to as “modern calligraphy” or “New York Calligraphy “, created by the New York calligrapher Anne Robin. Find more info at []

Latin calligraphy or the writing system along with Greek and Cyrillic writing system is known as Western Calligraphy. Early alphabets had evolved by about 3000 BC. Long, heavy rolls of papyrus were replaced by the Romans with the first books, initially by simple folded pages of parchment made from animal skins. In the beginning reed pens were used for calligraphy which was subsequently replaced by quill pens.

Prolific copying of the Bible, particularly the New Testament and other sacred texts gave a boost to the development of Calligraphy. Monks in Ireland and Scotland used Uncial letters in their calligraphy which is also known as Insular Style of Calligraphy. Illuminated manuscript was considered the zenith of western calligraphy in Northern Europe during 7th to 9th Century.

Alcuin, the Abbot of York undertook a major revision of all styles of script and all texts to spread the art of beautiful writing. He also developed a new style called “Carolingian Minuscule” style named after his patron in Charlemagne.

12th Century saw the growth of Blackletter also known as Gothic script. After the invention of printing by Gutenberg in the 15th century, hand-written and hand-decorated books become less common.

Using a sharp pointed nib instead of the flat nib a new style called copperplate was invented in 15th Century. It resembles the etchings of engraved copper hence the name copperplate.

Balliol College, Bodleian Library, Corpus Christi College, Jesus College, Magdalene College and St John’s College of Oxford University, converted major works considered as treasures in calligraphy, in digital format to preserve them over a longer period.