Calligraphy - The Islamic Art

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Calligraphy - The Islamic Art Before Mohamed Zakariya copies the words of the Koran, he washes his face, hands and feet as if he were going to pray. The pen he writes with is made from a reed that was buried in manure for four years to achieve the correct red colour. His ink is soot ground to powder, a process he describes as shoulder-busting labour. The paper is dyed with tea, coated with egg …

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…same way. The demand for such commissions remains small in the United States. Zakariya is one of a few American Muslims who can support himself as a calligrapher. School teachers, college professors and government workers are his main customers. When he saw the Ottoman calligraphy show, he could not help but compare his own work. "It's very humbling," he admits. "You look at the good stuff and say, 'I'll never catch up to that.' "