I recently rediscovered Mouneer Al-Shaárani’s work after trawling Google Images for the original of an image I had saved. His portfolio site
has had (see update below) some wonderful examples of quite remarkable calligraphy on it. The three examples of his work below show some of what’s possible with Arabic calligraphy, which may well be unreadable, but is definitely beautiful.
It’s also worth checking this collection of anthropomorphic and zoomorphic calligraphy on this post on BibliOdyssey. I gather from reading around the subject that the idea of doing this may have come from the prohibition on creating images of animals - this isn’t a picture of the animal, it’s just a description of it, written down. Whether that’s true or not is open to interpretation, but it makes a nice story. Would that defence stand up in court, I wonder?
Update (May 2009): The portfolio site is now some crappy link-farming thing. Some of his work is available for sale on Artnet though.