The word Calligraphy is usually defined by its two Greek roots: kalli meaning beautiful and graphia referring to writing.

What is the difference between Calligraphy and standard writing?

In a word, Consistency. Consistency of shape, stroke, weight, spacing and rhythm. Although consistency is accomplished through repetition, calligraphy is not a matter of mechanical repetition (otherwise a typesetter would be a calligrapher). The subtle nuances of hand written text, as opposed to the exact duplication of type, gives it its unique eye-pleasing quality no computer can duplicate.

Calligraphy is as much a matter of seeing as of writing. It is more than simply acquiring a manual skill. You have to train your eye to see the subtle details and proportions of the letter forms.

The hand cannot execute what the mind does not comprehend, and the mind cannot comprehend what the eye does not see.

Although most often associated with the beautiful writing done by scribes during the Renaissance, calligraphy has come to encompass beautiful lettering made by many means. Oriental brush lettering or Roman stone carving are equally a part of what we call Calligraphy today.

Calligraphy is often accompanied with Illumination, the hand drawing of pictures (often in silver and gold leaf), but that's a different node.

Probably the most famous Illumated Manuscript with Calligraphy is the Book of Kells.

Cal*lig"ra*phy, n. [Gr. : cf. F. calligraphie.]

Fair or elegant penmanship.


© Webster 1913.

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