A Thousand Times No: The Visual History of Lam Alif,
The title of Bahia Shehab’s book reflects an Arabic expression, “No, and a thousand times no.” The word ‘No’ or ‘la’ in Arabic is written using the Arabic letters lam and alif. These merge into a special graphic form, known in printer’s terminology as a digraph. Shehab looked for a thousand different examples of no’s on all sorts of documents and miscelania produced over the past 1,400 years in Islamic history, and documented them in this book. She found characters from Spain, Afghanistan, Iran, China, the borders of China, on buildings, mosques, architecture, plates, textiles, pottery and books. These findings are compiled in this book, where the no’s are placed chronologically, stating the places she found them, the medium, and the patron that commissioned the work. The examples demonstrate the richness and global influence of Islamic culture accross history and the world.