Cover: Letters of Light: Arabic Script in Calligraphy, Print, and Digital Design, from Harvard University PressCover: Letters of Light in HARDCOVER

Letters of Light

Arabic Script in Calligraphy, Print, and Digital Design

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Product Details


$48.00 • £38.95 • €43.00

ISBN 9780674971127

Publication Date: 05/22/2017


280 pages

6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches

2 halftones, 24 line illustrations


A refreshing and rewarding approach to understanding deeply embedded and cherished cultural values of Islamic lands… Osborn provides important lessons about the Arabic script as a cultural object with a history, grammar, and set of values.—Peter Webb, The Times Literary Supplement

J.R. Osborn’s Letters of Light is a fascinating investigation of the development of Arabic scripts over the past millennium and their problematic encounter with Western typography, which sliced expressive lines of cursive writing into individual sorts of cold type. Osborn ingeniously explores how the advent of new computer technologies in the twentieth century has opened a promising future for the design of Arabic scripts that conform to and expand upon calligraphy’s formal and aesthetic traditions.—Jonathan M. Bloom, author of Paper Before Print: The History and Impact of Paper in the Islamic World

Letters of Light is an enjoyable and clearly written historical account of the development of the Arabic script, and the Naskh calligraphic style in particular, that elegantly links scribal traditions and conventions to today’s type design discourse. Osborn creates a much-welcome, impartial framework and foundation for further research into Arabic type design and contemporary design tools. This is highly recommended reading for design students, practitioners, and all interested in Arabic typography and Arab visual culture.—Huda Smitshuijzen AbiFarès, The Khatt Foundation, Center for Arabic Typography, Amsterdam

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