[Abū’l-Ḥasan ‛Alī ibn Hilāl al-Bawwāb]
(d Baghdad, 1022).
Arab calligrapher and illuminator. He began as a house decorator but turned to calligraphy and refined the ‘proportioned script’ developed a century earlier by Ibn Muqla, in which letters were measured in terms of dots, circles and semicircles. An intimate of court circles in Baghdad, Ibn al-Bawwab was appointed librarian to the Buyid ruler Baha’ al-Dawla (reg 998–1012) at Shiraz. There Ibn al-Bawwab calligraphed the volume missing from a Koran manuscript penned by his predecessor so perfectly that the patron was unable to distinguish the new work from the original. In addition to an epistle and didactic poem on penmanship, Ibn al-Bawwab is said to have copied 64 manuscripts of the Koran, but only one survives: a manuscript copied at Baghdad in 1000–01 (Dublin, Chester Beatty Lib., MS. 1431). The small volume contains 286 folios (trimmed size 175×135 mm). Each page of text has 15 lines in naskh...