Arabic Scripts: 17th-18th centuries

17th century

Mardin, Chaldean Cathedral, CCM 333, f. 191v, 1602

Arabic colophon in an East Syriac Garshuni manuscript

Aleppo, Syriac Orthodox Church, Archdiocese of Aleppo, SOAA 22(H), f. 21v


Gospel of John

This is a well-written, heavily vocalized manuscript. The scribe was clearly not a novice, and the book was apparently intended to be a fine copy. Note the border, the sectioned-off title in red (al-faṣl al-ṯāliṯ ʿašar), and the catchword (al-ǧalīl).

Jerusalem, Saint Mark's Monastery, SMMJ 270, f. 89r, 1695 July 22

Gregory of Nyssa, Commentary on the Song of Songs

The script of this copy is distinctive because of the angular ductus in which much of it is written, as well as the notable variation in line thickness. Red dots are used to divide phrases, placed in relation to the various letter forms.


As elsewhere, words may be lengthened to fill the line, as in al-madīna (line 12), which also has the dots (of yāʾ and nūn) placed imprecisely.

18th century

Mardin, Chaldean Cathedral, CCM 25, f. 78v

A purchase note dated 2051 AG (= 1739/40 CE)

The manuscript’s main text is the Syriac grammar (in Syriac) of Eliya of Nisibis, the title of which is given in East Syriac script in line 1 here.


This is a very casual script and it has a late appearance, not unlike everyday modern handwriting

Mardin, Church of the Forty Martyrs, CFMM 395, p. 348, 1789/1790

Apocryphal stories

This script is also rather casual, but uniform. The page also bears the seal of the library: maktabat dayr al-zaʿfarān.