Arabic Scripts: 19th-20th centuries

19th century

Mardin, Chaldean Cathedral, CCM 23, f. 5v, 18th/19th century (?)

Fragments of the Miracles of Mary

This late hand is neither careful nor aesthetically appealing, but is nevertheless relatively uniform.

Mardin, Chaldean Cathedral, CCM 379, p. 1, 18th/19th century

An Eisagoge (introduction to logic)

This page opens with more ornate lettering for the basmala and section title, but then turns to a kind of ruqʿa script. Generally, two dots on a letter are written as a line.

Jerusalem, Saint Mark's Monastery, SMMJ 235, title page, 19th century

Curse + waqf-note in Arabic script on title page

The script here is not that of a practiced hand, but it is nevertheless fairly clear. As elsewhere in more casual writing, the two dots of some letters are written as a straight line. [nb: the image is a clip from the page]

Jerusalem, Saint Mark's Monastery, SMMJ 235, fol. 1r, 19th century

Marginal waqf-note

From the same manuscript as the previous page, this marginal note is written in a more ornate script. [nb: the image is a clip from the page]

Here is a transcription:


waqf dayr al-suryān aʿnī bayt mār marqūs wa-hiya kanīsa

awwal mā buniyat bi-quds al-šarīf ʿalá ism al-ʿadrá [sic]


Notable are the long, flowing descenders of rāʾ, final sīn, and final mīm.

Jerusalem, Saint Mark's Monastery, SMMJ 134, fol. 179v, 1880

The Response of Gregory, Patriarch of Armenia, to Michael, Patriarch of Alexandria

This distinctive script is thick, slightly angled, and shaky.

Aleppo, Syriac Catholic Archdiocese of Aleppo, SCAA 7, f. 1v, 19th century

Eisagoge (Introduction to logic)

After a decorative basmala and rubricated title, there is a straightforward late Naskh script that illustrates how similar handwritten and printed Arabic script can be.

20th century

Jerusalem, Saint Mark's Monastery, SMMJ 32, f. 1r, 1910

Arabic note in a Syriac Gospel Lectionary

This note offers a good example of ruqʿa script. When multiple dots mark the letters, they are simply a line for two dots (e.g. waqf in line 1), and a curved line for three (e.g. ūršalīm in line 5).