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Nasta‘līq (Persian: نستعلیق[næ‘stæʔliːq] (in a simplified typeface: نستعلیق), from نسخ (نسخ) Naskh and تعلیق (تعلیق) Taʿlīq) is one of the main calligraphic hands used in writing the Persian alphabet and traditionally the predominant style in Persian calligraphy.[1] It was developed in Iran in the 14th and 15th centuries.[2] It is sometimes used to write Arabic language text (where it is known as Taʿlīq or Persian and is mainly used for titles and headings), but its use has always been more popular in the Persian, Urdu, and Turkic sphere of influence[citation needed]. Nast3lyq remains very widely used in Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India and other countries for written poetry and as a form of art.[3]

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LanguagesUrdu and Persian
ISO 15924Aran, 161
A couplet versified by the Persian poet Hafez in Nast3lyq, in print:

حافظ شیرازی
مرا عهدیست با جانان که تا جان در بدن دارم
هواداران کویش را چو جان خویشتن دارم

in a simplified typeface:
حافظ شیرازی
مرا عهدیست با جانان که تا جان در بدن دارم
هواداران کویش را چو جان خویشتن دارم

A less elaborate version of Nast3lyq serves as the preferred style for writing in Kashmiri, and Urdu and it is often used alongside Naskh for Pashto[citation needed]. In Persian, it is used for poetry only. Nast3lyq was historically used for writing Ottoman Turkish, where it was known as tâlik[4] (not to be confused with a totally different Persian style, also called taʿlīq; to distinguish the two, Ottomans referred to the latter as taʿlīq-i qadim, "old taʿlīq").

Nast3lyq is the core script of the post-Sassanid Persian writing tradition and is equally important in the areas under its cultural influence. The languages of Iran (Western Persian, Azeri, Balochi, Kurdi, Luri, etc.), Afghanistan (Dari Persian, Pashto, Turkmen, Uzbek, etc.), India (Urdu, Kashmiri, etc.) and the Turkic Uyghur language of the Chinese province of Xinjiang, rely on Nast3lyq. Under the name taʿliq (lit. "suspending [script]"), it was also beloved by Ottoman calligraphers who developed the Diwani (divanî) and Ruqah (rıkʻa) styles from it.[citation needed]

Nast3lyq is amongst the most fluid calligraphy styles for the Arabic script. It has short verticals with no serifs, and long horizontal strokes[citation needed]. It is written using a piece of trimmed reed with a tip of 5–10 mm (0.2–0.4 in), called qalam ('pen', Arabic and Persian قلم) and carbon ink, named siyahi. The nib of a qalam can be split in the middle to facilitate ink absorption.[citation needed]

Two important forms of Nast3lyq panels are Chalipa and Siyah mashq. A Chalipa ("cross", in Persian) panel usually consists of four diagonal hemistiches (half-lines) of poetry, clearly signifying a moral, ethical or poetic concept. Siyah Mashq ("black drill") panels, however, communicate via composition and form, rather than content. In Siyah Mashq, repeating a few letters or words (sometimes even one) virtually inks the whole panel[citation needed]. The content is thus of less significance and not clearly accessible.[citation needed]


Persian Chalipa panel, Mir Emad.

In print:
بودم به تو عمری و ترا سیر ندیدم
از وصل تو هرگز به مرادی نرسیدم
از بهر تو بیگانه شدم از همه خویشان
وحشی صفت از خلق به یکبار بریدم

In simplified typeface:
بودم به تو عمری و ترا سیر ندیدم
از وصل تو هرگز به مرادی نرسیدم
از بهر تو بیگانه شدم از همه خویشان
وحشی صفت از خلق به یکبار بریدم

After the Islamic conquest of Persia, the Iranian Persian people adopted the Perso-Arabic script and the art of Persian calligraphy flourished in Iran as territories of the former Persian empire. Apparently, Mir Ali Tabrizi (14th century) developed Nast3lyq by combining two existing scripts of Nasḫ and Taʿlīq.[5] Hence, it was originally called Nasḫ-Taʿlīq. Another theory holds that the name Nast3lyq means "that which abrogated (naskh) Taʿlīq".[citation needed]

Nast3lyq thrived and many prominent calligraphers contributed to its splendor and beauty. It is believed[by whom?] that Nast3lyq reached its highest elegance in Mir Emad's works. The current practice of Nast3lyq is, however, heavily based on Mirza Reza Kalhor's technique. Kalhor modified and adapted Nast3lyq to be easily used with printing machines, which in turn helped wide dissemination of his transcripts. He also devised methods for teaching Nast3lyq and specified clear proportional rules for it, which many could follow.[citation needed]

The Mughal Empire used Persian as the court language during their rule over South Asia. During this time, Nast3lyq came into widespread use in South Asia. The influence continues to this day. In India, almost everything in Urdu is written in the script, constituting the greatest part of Nast3lyq usage in the world. The situation of Nast3lyq in Bangladesh used to be the same as in Pakistan until 1971, when Urdu ceased to remain an official language. Today, only a few people use this form of writing in Bangladesh.[citation needed]

Nast3lyq is a descendant of Nasḫ and Taʿlīq. Shekasteh Nast3lyq (literally "broken Nast3lyq") style is a development of Nast3lyq.[citation needed]

Notable Nast3lyq calligraphersEdit

Example showing:

خط نستعلیق

(Nast3lyq script) written in Nast3lyq.

In a simplified font: خط نستعلیق

And others, including Mirza Jafar Tabrizi, Abdul Rashid Deilami, Sultan Ali Mashadi, Mir Ali Heravi, Emad Ul-Kottab, Mirza Gholam Reza Esfehani, Emadol Kotab, Yaghoot Mostasami and Darvish Abdol Majid Taleghani.[citation needed]

And among contemporary artists: Hassan Mirkhani, Hossein Mirkhani, Keikhosro Khoroush, Abbas Akhavein and Qolam-Hossein Amirkhani, Ali Akbar Kaveh, Kaboli.[6]


Islamic calligraphy was originally used to adorn Islamic religious texts, specifically the Qurʼan, as pictorial ornaments were prohibited in sacred publications and spaces of Islam. Therefore, a sense of sacredness was always implicit in calligraphy.[citation needed]

A Nast3lyq disciple was supposed to qualify himself spiritually for being a calligrapher, besides learning how to prepare qalam, ink, paper and, more importantly, master Nast3lyq. For instance see Adab al-Mashq, a manual of penmanship attributed to Mir Emad.[7]

Nast3lyq typesettingEdit

An example of the Nast3lyq script used for writing Urdu

Nast3lyq Typography first started with attempts to develop a metallic type for the script, but all such efforts failed. Fort William College developed a Nast3lyq Type, which was not close enough to Nast3lyq and hence was never used other than by the college library to publish its own books. The State of Hyderabad Dakan (now in India) also attempted to develop a Nast3lyq Typewriter but this attempt failed miserably and the file was closed with the phrase “Preparation of Nast3lyq on commercial basis is impossible”. Basically, in order to develop such a metal type, thousands of pieces would be required.[citation needed]

Modern Nast3lyq typography began with the invention of Noori Nastaleeq which was first created as a digital font in 1981 through the collaboration of Mirza Ahmad Jamil TI (as Calligrapher) and Monotype Imaging (formerly Monotype Corp & Monotype Typography).[8] Although this was a ground-breaking solution employing over 20,000 ligatures (individually designed character combinations) which provided the most beautiful results and allowed newspapers such as Pakistan's Daily Jang to use digital typesetting instead of an army of calligraphers, it suffered from two problems in the 1990s: (a) its non-availability on standard platforms such as Windows or Mac OS, and (b) the non-WYSIWYG nature of text entry, whereby the document had to be created by commands in Monotype's proprietary page description language.

Windows 8 was the first version of Microsoft Windows to have native Nast3lyq support, through Microsoft's "Urdu Typesetting" font.[9]

Google has an open-source Nastaliq font called Noto Nastaliq.[10] Apple provides this font on all Mac installations since Mac OS X High Sierra. Similarly, Apple has carried this font on iOS devices since iOS 11.[11]

Amar Nastaleeq was created for web embedding on Urdu websites in 2013. The font was announced by Urdu poet Fahmida Riaz.[12]


In 1994, InPage Urdu, which is a fully functional page layout software for Windows akin to Quark XPress, was developed for Pakistan's newspaper industry by an Indian software company Concept Software Pvt Ltd. It offered the Noori Nastaliq font licensed from Monotype Corporation. This font, with its vast ligature base of over 20,000, is still used in current versions of the software for Windows. As of 2009 InPage has become Unicode based, supporting more languages, and the Faiz Lahori Nastaliq font with Kasheeda has been added to it along with compatibility with OpenType Unicode fonts. Nastaliq Kashish[clarification needed] has been made for the first time[clarification needed] in the history of Nast3lyq Typography.[citation needed]

Shekasteh Nast3lyqEdit

Shekasteh or Shekasteh Nast3lyq (Persian: شکسته نستعلیق‎, شکسته نستعلیق, "cursive Nast3lyq" or literally "broken Nast3lyq") style is a successor of Nast3lyq.[citation needed]


See alsoEdit


  1. ^ The Cambridge History of Islam. By P. M. Holt, et al., Cambridge University Press, 1977, ISBN 0-521-29138-0, p. 723.
  2. ^ Hamed, Payman. "Famous Calligraphers - Persian Calligraphy- All about Persian Calligraphy".
  3. ^ Gulzar,Rahman, Atif,Shafiq (2007). "Nastaleeq: A challenge accepted by Omega" (PDF). TUGboat. 29: 1–6.
  4. ^ "The Scripts".
  5. ^ "Famous Calligraphers". Persian Calligraphy. Retrieved 12 January 2012.
  6. ^ Nastaliq Script – Persian Calligraphy Archived September 28, 2010, at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^ Ernst, Carl W. (April–June 1992). "The Spirit of Islamic Calligraphy: Bābā Shāh Iṣfahānī's Ādāb al-mashq". Journal of the American Oriental Society. 112 (2): 279–286. doi:10.2307/603706. JSTOR 603706.
  8. ^ Khurshiq, Iqbal. "زندگی آگے بڑھنے کا نام اور جمود موت ہے: نوری نستعلیق کی ایجاد سے خط نستعلیق کی دائمی حفاظت ہوگئی". Express. Retrieved 24 November 2013.
  9. ^ "The evolving Story of Locale Support, part 9: Nastaleeq vs. Nastaliq? Either way, Windows 8 has got it!". MSDN Blogs. Retrieved 2013-03-24.
  10. ^
  11. ^
  12. ^ Riaz, fahmida (21 November 2013). "Amar Nastaleeq Font for Urdu Web Publishing".

Further readingEdit

  • Sheila Blair, Islamic Calligraphy, Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2005.

External linksEdit