According to Iranian legends, calligraphy was invented by Tahmuras, the third king of Pishdadian dynasty. It has been recited in the Book of King (Shahnameh) by Ferdowsi that after the demons were captivated by Tahmuras, they asked for mercy and in return they taught him calligraphy. At the beginning of Islamic Era, the formal alphabet of Iran was a kind of Pahlavi called “Farsi-e Miyaneh” or Middle Persian.
Scientific, literature and political texts were written in Pahlavi and only religious texts were written in Avestan alphabet. After conquest of Iran by the Arab world and their cultural influence, and due to technical shortcomings of Pahlavi alphabet, Pahlavi was replaced by Kufic in many cities of Iran. It was during 14th and 15th centuries that Ta’liq, Nasta’liq and Shekasteh Nasta’liq were developed by the Iranian.
They were enhanced in 16th and 17th centuries and reached perfection in 18th and 19th centuries. Today very few people write in Ta’liq, but Nasta’liq and Shekasteh Nasta’liq are both very common and prominent. In fact, Persian-Islamic calligraphy is one of the flourishing arts mesmerizing both eyes and ears. As if the written words are meet by the eyes, read by the heart and heard by the ears, arousing the two feelings.
It is quiet certain that calligraphy did not reach perfection not in a fraction of a second, but years of practicing, hard work and innovation of many artists have resulted in its high position as a form of art. Calligraphy is categorized as one of fields of Fine Arts. The practitioner, based on the taste of the buyer, may use handmade, marble, plain or colorful papers that are also chosen in appropriate with the text. The finished work can be illuminated too.
This art is mostly used to write copies of holy Quran, book of the poets, or famous sayings of the elder. One of the greatest masters of Nasta’liq who played the most important part in its perfection was Mir Emad from Qazvin. He is considered one of the most celebrated calligraphist of Islamic calligraphy. In addition to Mir Emad, artists such as Mirza Mohammad Hosein Emad ol-Ketab Qazvini, who famously designed “Besmellah (In the name of God) in the form of Tughra bird for the first time), Abd ol-Majid Taleqani and Malek Mohammad Qazvini have all helped for the city of Qazvin to be known as the calligraphy capital of Iran.