Zoomorphic Calligraphy Illusions


Zoomorphic Calligraphy established itself only relatively late in Islamic art, when the taboos outlawing religious iconography had lost some of their power. It is an art developed in Ottoman Turkey, India and Qajar Iran. People say, it was known as early as 1458. Most of the below zoomorphic and anthropomorphic optical illusions were done by talented artist, named Hassan Musa from Sudan. The first thing you notice is an animal, offcourse. But here’s an asignment for you: what do the words say? If you didn’t notice it by now, the images are created from text and they should have a meaning, it’s only shame I can’t understand those… will you help me?

  • Nabiha

    The thing about Arabic caligraphy is that it’s really really hard to understand. If I knew what the word was in the first place, then I could see how the word fit in the caligraphy.

    • it doesnt conveys the picture and the letters,, many of them are poet and unrelatrd verses but they are beautiful,,, i can understand that the picture before the fish is written bismillahi rahmani raheem

  • Nabiha

    Actually, the third one could be “bism” or something like that, which would be “in the name”.

    • also the elephant ,, from surat fiil the first verse

  • anonymous

    I can read arabic and I can see some letters but I can’t understand the word.

  • klik

    Dude that’s cool

  • Paul Antonio

    Fantastic calligrams. Really beautifully executed and thoughtfully put together. Will definitely send this site out for others to see.


  • Nihal

    Look, I’m Suppose to Learn Arabic Cuz its Quaran. See i;m a Muslim, My mom and dad are pakistani, but once my mom gets off the tv, i think i can get her to tranlate some of them, See Nihal, is a Arab Name, I think it mean b e satisfied of what you have, And the Quaran is our Bible.. Some of these Look sso familar but i cant make them out, Maybe if my mom cant figure these out, i’ll send this to my Old arab teacher, kk..?

  • no likey name

    that is cool, cool dat

  • cheezy-llama

    Here’s a joke: What is cheezy, and like a llama?
    IT’S NOT A JOKE!!!

    I like these, but the only problem is…

  • Anonymous
  • Anonymous

    I lovea thise puzzlea andu i foundo out whata the firsta puzzle meansa.

    I speackA dA Hindu and a likea the saein.
    It a meansin “its not whata yur countrey cana doa for youa but whata you can do for ya contrey”

    Reva the Runna

  • ***Zeina***

    thats neat, see, Zeina is an arabic name, it means Beutiful. ( my dad is from Jordan) I cant read it, but maybe my grandma can.

  • Anonymous

    I GOT IT

    it means:

    I am with you and you shall keep me holy forever.My words of wisdom contract on a spinning pool of light.Love be only two of my senses for you.Please accept my offring of peace to you my love.I shall hold a gift of your heart with me forever

  • FiX

    Well, most of these are Quranic verses… Im still trying on this one cause I can only read random words…
    The seventh image file, the horse, is not Arabic, but could be Farsi.

    In the eighth image file with four images, the elephant is a Quranic verse that reads (in Arabic 1337): “Alam tara kayfa fa3ala rabbuka be-2as7aab-il feel” a Quranic verse roughly translated as “Have you not seen what your Lord has made of the People of the Elephant”;

    The ninth one of the running ostrich reads “Bism Illah el-Ra7maan el-Ra7eem” translated to “In the name of God, the Most Gracious, Most Merciful”

    Thats all for now! I may get the rest later… And some of these posts are real hoaxes… :D

  • hotfoot

    These are beautifull and stuff.

  • Anonymous

    Hello all, I’ve just stumbled upon your blog here. I’ve done some of my own research and accidently stumbled upon the Verse for the image of the fish: The Qur’anic verse is Chapter 16 Verse 14. “And He it is Who has made subservient (to you) the sea that you may eat of its fresh flesh (of fish), and may bring forth out of it (precious and beautiful things of) ornaments for your wear. And you see the ships cleaving through it.” Good luck with the rest!

  • Anonymous

    The Verse for the Fish is from the Qur’an: Chapter 16 Verse 14: “And He it is Who has made subservient (to you) the sea that you may eat of its fresh flesh (of fish), and may bring forth out of it (precious and beautiful things of) ornaments for your wear. And you see the ships cleaving through it.”

  • i*is*awesome

    My mom said the one above the fish says “Bismillahir Rakh Manir Rahim” which means “In the name of Allah [God], Most Gracious, Most Merciful.” You’re like, supposed to say it before every prayer and stuff.

  • april

    i cant read the writin lol but it still looks cool!

  • Anonymous

    hurm..the balls beside tiger n elephant is a name..
    like filun its mean elephant in arabic
    n namirun is tiger

  • zaya

    Can anyone figure out the interpretation of the tiger?

  • FameSeeker

    does anyone know what is written within the calligram of the woman?

  • Kylea Laina Liese

    I’m also going crazy trying to find a translation of the woman. If anyone can help, I’d really appreciate it!!!

  • Anonymous

    when you put a mirror next to some it looks like they’re going to fight

  • Rafi786

    cant reallt tell from these pics cause there too small.. but if u guys enlarge there pretty easy to read…

  • Bethany

    wat is it with this site and zebras

  • Zoha

    Im a muslim. maybey I can ask my parents . there pakistani but Im suposed to read the quran They might now what the words mean. Zoha, my name is in Arabic and it means morning light.

  • Anonymous

    some people should just plain shutup if they don’t know wut they’re talkin about! leave these comments 4 people who have something 2 offer the illusion.
    …that’s wut i translated!!

  • josh

    Im actually pretty good at seing the meaninhg in these kinds of pictures, if you have a large pixel copy of the horse and rider, i can translate it for you, but its too small to see here.

    For example:

    #2 says namr, which translates to tiger
    #3 says allah which translates to god
    #3 says feel, which translates to elephant

    Like i said, i cant see the animal clear enough to translate them, im only translating the symbols next to them…

    I would love to know the meaning of the Horse and rider, would make a killer tattoo lol

  • Great work. Letters and drawings in perfect harmony.
    Although not an example of animals or people did one too, take a look:


    Thank you.

  • anthonee

    maybe they tell a story of gods…

  • read dis comment

    cool… ??????????????????????????what IS the third 1????????????????????????????????????

  • katie oneal


  • amina

    the first three say the name of the animal in arabic

  • i only know 3 they are just i think in different
    lannguages :D because allah means GOD to us :D
    Namr translate:Tiger

    feel Translate to elephant

    and allah ofcourse i know that its GOD :D

  • Lady

    the one in yellow ( bird shape) is : بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
    means : In the Name of Allah (GOD),the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful

  • everitte

    The first image does not actually say anything in Arabic, like most of Hasan Musa’s images. The circle next next to the animals in a few of his other works is the only part of the artwork that says anything in Arabic, the rest of the image, i.e. the animal is simply drawn using the same strokes that would be used when writing Arabic calligraphy.

  • annymous

    Does anyone know the meaning of the Zebra allusion? #5? I would really appreciate it. I have been looking for the meaning everywhere and can’t seem to find it, and unfortunately can’t read Arabic.

  • Holidays in Devon

    creative artworks….I like it simple,no too much colors and little drawings….

  • unknown

    is there ANY meaning to be found anywhere on the first one? the one of the man riding the horse?

  • unknown

    well, I’m arab, i can understand some of them, like, the one where there is a tiger, its written ”nimr” which is tiger in arabic

  • Moh

    Does anyone have a clue on the horse and the rider??

  • pyal

    i did the horse one the name is buraaq

  • Iman

    Most of the images here were taken from Sudan Artists Gallery web site, without permission. Second not all the artwork was done by artist Hassan Musa.
    Please review your information before publishing it.


  • i guess the word “feel” which means “Elephant” and “bismiilah hi rahman nir rAheem”
    which means” In the name of Almighty Allah who is most merciful and the most beneficent”

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