Mohamed Zakariya

Mohamed Zakariya is an Islamic calligrapher, artist, and maker of custom instruments from the history of science. Born in Ventura, California, in 1942, he began his study of Islamic calligraphy with A.S. Ali Nour in Tangier and London in 1964. After continuing his studies independently at the British Museum, he was invited in 1984 by the Research Center for Islamic History, Art, and Culture (IRCICA) in Istanbul to study with two celebrated Turkish calligraphers: Hasan Celebi and Ali Alparslan. In 1988, Zakariya received the prized icazet (diploma) in sulus/nesih script from Mr. Celebi in a ceremony in Istanbul, and in 1997, he received the icazet in ta’lik from Dr. Alparslan.

Zakariya has presented numerous workshops and lectures on Islamic calligraphy, and his calligraphic works have been exhibited widely. In this country, for example, his work has been shown at the Smithsonian Institution’s Renwick Gallery and S. Dillon Ripley Center and at the Klutznick National Jewish Museum in Washington, D.C.. He has also shown his calligraphy and given demonstrations in conjunction with Islamic art exhibits at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and the Walters Gallery in Baltimore. Abroad, Zakariya has participated in invitational exhibitions and symposia in Turkey, Kuwait, Iraq, Qatar, Bahrain, Oman, Abu Dhabi, and Saudi Arabia. He is the author of numerous articles and monographs, including Music for the Eyes, published by the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Los Angeles Museum of Art in conjunction with a 1998-99 exhibit of Ottoman calligraphy from the Sakip Sabanci collection. He has also translated from the Turkish the exhibition catalogue, Letters in Gold, by Ugur Derman, as well as Mr. Derman’s Art of Calligraphy in the Islamic Heritage (IRCICA, 1998).

A master woodworker, engraver, and machinist, Zakariya also designs and constructs functioning examples of antique-style horological and scientific instruments, examples of which are in the collections of the Aramco Science Museum in Saudi Arabia, the National Museum of Qatar, the Time Museum in Rockford, Ill., and the Adler Planetarium in Chicago. His woodturning has been exhibited at the American Craft Museum in New York and his engraved astrolabes at the Ornamental Metal Museum in Memphis, Tenn.