Our Kashida secrets 01

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Our Kashida secrets 01

By Admin I: It all started one day at a design course, when I was contributing in the mass production of the new design generation, the one that wants to design ‘pinteresty’ nice looking stuff, you know a la ‘Swiss-minimalist’ wannabe.

That day, most of those sick horny brains failed at working with Arabic, just because their families one day decided to refrain them from learning their own language, their own culture. ‘C’etait pas cool’.

What shocked me was a small feedback line to one of the students: “add some kashidas to that logo, kern it accordingly to align with the latin”.

Well no. No, no! From what I knew since forever, Kashidas (a character representing this elongation (ـ), also known as tatwil) should follow the sound, so whenever you elongate in pronunciation, you can add a kashida.

After bragging about what I know, and doing some furious hairflips trying to force that idea onto the brains of the brainless, I decided to research that subject matter, simply because I couldn’t find anyone, or any resource to certify those rules.

The journey started, and I’m calling it a journey because it reflects an unexpected long process (and to add some drama to that topic as well). You’d be surprised to know that this subject lacks any online reference (talking about decent objective ones), no links to clearly discuss kashidas, and no one to ask but some friends we know and respect: Maajoun!

So on a peachy bright day, we e-mailed Maajoun, one of the few design houses that keep some respect to our mother tongue instead of harassing the hell out of it, the way others do.

We expected a clear blunt answer that can help reformulating this post, and that’s it; Maajoun replied, but it wasn’t at all a decisive answer:

“The kashida bible we use is on the khtt foundation website by Edo Smitshuijzen”. The guy clearly doesn’t mention anything about pronunciation but sets a series of rules that are as irrelevant as any rule can be.

Check this link.


See, no sense at all, no religious relevance, no calligraphy roots (It’s Arabic calligraphy FYI, not typography) simply because the rules of writing are not written in a user-manual as Mr. Smitshuijzen would like, not even in Latin as he may have forgotten.

Some people had to have the craziness to become extremely passionate about a certain script, to decipher it and understand it, this is the example of Edward M. Catich who did pioneering work in the study of Roman Capitals, but certainly not the case of those KHTT foundation people. (a statement by resource 2, to be revealed in the next Kashida post).

More resources in the second post, and other queues and findings. Some type soldiers were lost along the way, so beware.


  1. Gaby said:

    Reminds me of my thesis on Arabic Calligraphy…ended up concluding it should be taught again at design schools, although a lot of those in Europe are more and more interested in the language we are slowly letting go of.

    Awesome post, I do also agree there are no links to tatweels and kasheedas…

    • Admin I said:

      Thank you Gaby,
      We’re sadly letting go of it super fast..
      And concerning kashidas, wait for the rest of the posts, research showed a whole schizophrenic state of Arabic. There is no accurate documentation whatsoever.

      • The Much Esteemed Ad Critic said:

        So the verdict is that we can’t use more than one kashida in each word. Right?
        Most designers I know tend to abuse the kashida button, adding 6-10 in the same word. I’ve always felt it’s wrong, but I just couldn’t back it by research.

      • Admin I said:

        adding 6 to 10 kashidas in one word is definitely insane, and the verdict is that there is no established one.
        We’re researching and the final answer is still in progress.. Keep reading!

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