Monday, January 17, 2011

Best Fountain Pens for writing the Arabic Language

One of the reasons that I find fountain pens to be useful is because they're the ultimate writing tool.  Not only can they be used for writing, but they can be used for drawing as well. They're the ultimate calligraphy tool, seeing as calligraphy is the art of writing.  Tracing the roots of the word calligraphy, we arrive at the Ancient Greek word καλλιγραφος which is a combination of the Greek words καλος and γραφος.  Καλος means "good" or "nice" and γραφος means "writing" or "letter". Together we get a word that means "nice letter".

I'm not good enough at reading Arabic to know what this
says, but it sure looks REALLY cool!
Now, Arabic is a language that is different from what we are accustomed to in English, because the script for the language is much more common as an art form.  Because of the religious devotion of early followers of Islam, the people in the Middle East were afraid to draw pictures out of fear of creating idols, something that The Prophet Muhammed warned against.  Searching for an outlet for creative endeavors, the Arabic speakers (since Islam and the Arabic tongue are inextricably connected) put all their energy into mathematics, architecture and handwriting.  The Arabic script can be as beautiful as English cursive or more beautiful.  Both have a lot in common in the way that they flow and rise and fall with twists of the pen and more pressure on down strokes.  While ballpoint pens may work alright with the Arabic language, a pencil is preferable over a ballpoint and a fountain pen over a pencil.
Practicing my Arabic alphabet. Each of the
28 letters has 4 different forms that must
be known. That doesn't even count the short
vowel marks.

I've been trying different fountain pens to see which ones work best with the Arabic language.  The Sheaffer Italic that I used was probably the best one overall, but as far as standard pens that I would carry around with me for use in other languages, I would say the Noodler's Nib Creaper Fountain Pen (filled with Noodler's Bad Green Gator) performed the best.  I was also able to apply more pressure with the throw-back nib and make line width variations, placing it at the top of the list for writing Arabic.  My Platinum Preppy .03 was the runner-up. It was filled with Noodler's Polar Blue.

I tend to use legal pads most of the time because of their convenience and price. Don't worry, I'm moving to bagasse paper as soon as I run out!  This pad has narrower lines than most and as such, wet writers or pens with medium nibs aren't as functional.  This isn't to say that the Parker 51 (medium nib/Noodler's Polar Black) that I used or the Pilot Petit1 (wet writer/Noodler's Polar Blue with a drop or two of Polar Black) aren't great for this writing, but they most certainly need more line space than this legal pad allows.  Other pens I used were my Lamy Safari with EF nib (filled with Noodler's Polar Black and my Noodler's Piston Filler (filled with my favorite ink, Noodler's Red-Black).  Both the Lamy Safari and Piston Filler were too scratchy for a comfortable flow that is necessary for the lines prevalent in Arabic. The Sheaffer Italic F was used as a dip pen in Noodler's Russia Series Ахматова.

I'm a student of the language first and foremost, not a calligraphist, but that doesn't mean that I can't have fun with practicing calligraphy in other languages from time to time.  Maybe someday I'll be able to write as well as in the picture above.
مع السلامة

The Classicist


  1. Arabic is such a beautiful language, and your review is also nice to look at. Good work.

  2. That's crazy! I couldn't write in a new language like that.