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"Calligraphy and cacography respectively mean good and bad writing. It is therefore pleonastic to speak of excellent calligraphy or wretched cacography; and to describe the former as wretched would simply be to say that at the same time it was both excellent and the reverse."--A Desk-Book of Errors in English (1906) by Frank Horace Vizetelly

Alle Weissheit ist bey Gott dem Herrn... (1654), informal title of a calligraphy of the Sirach by an anonymous artist
Alle Weissheit ist bey Gott dem Herrn... (1654), informal title of a calligraphy of the Sirach by an anonymous artist

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Calligraphy is a type of visual art related to writing. It is the design and execution of lettering with a broad tip instrument or brush in one stroke (as opposed to built up lettering, in which the letters are drawn.) (Mediavilla 1996: 17). A contemporary definition of calligraphic practice is "the art of giving form to signs in an expressive, harmonious and skillful manner" (Mediavilla 1996: 18). The story of writing is one of aesthetic evolution framed within the technical skills, transmission speed(s) and material limitations of a person, time and place (Diringer 1968: 441). A style of writing is described as a script, hand or alphabet (Fraser and Kwiatkowski 2006; Johnston 1909: Plate 6).

Modern calligraphy ranges from functional hand-lettered inscriptions and designs to fine-art pieces where the abstract expression of the handwritten mark may or may not compromise the legibility of the letters (Mediavilla 1996). Classical calligraphy differs from typography and non-classical hand-lettering, though a calligrapher may create all of these; characters are historically disciplined yet fluid and spontaneous, at the moment of writing (Pott 2006 and 2005; Zapf 2007 and 2006).

Calligraphy continues to flourish in the forms of wedding and event invitations, font design/typography, original hand-lettered logo design, religious art, announcements/graphic design/commissioned calligraphic art, cut stone inscriptions and memorial documents. It is also used for props and moving images for film and television, testimonials, birth and death certificates, maps, and other works involving writing (see for example Letter Arts Review; Propfe 2005; Geddes and Dion 2004). Some of the finest works of modern calligraphy are charters and letters patent issued by monarchs and officers of state in various countries.


From Ancient Greek καλλιγραφία (kalligrafía, “pretty writing”), from κάλλος (kallos, “beauty”) + γράφω (gráphō, “to draw”).

See also

Types of writing

  • Handwriting, a person's particular style of writing by pen or a pencil
  • Hand (handwriting), in palaeography, refers to a distinct generic style of penmanship
  • Block letters — also called printing, is the use of the simple letters children are taught to write when first learning
  • Cursive — any style of handwriting in which all the letters in a word are connected.
  • Penmanship


People and groups


Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Calligraphy" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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