Till the 10th century, calligraphy was written on papyrus (made from fresh-water reeds) or parchment (made from the skin of an animal). By the 10th century, paper was introduced in the Middle East. It gradually replaced papyrus and parchment because it was cheaper and easier to produce.
Arabic Calligraphy papers needs to have a glossy surface in order for pen to glide. To put your Arabic calligraphy skills into practice, you can use old glossy News magazines. You can use the columns of the magazine as guidelines, or you can sketch pencil lines to guide your own work. When you begin to develop some skills, you can move to
glossy or glazed calligraphy papers available in any art store. You can even sometimes use glossy papers used for laser and inkjet copiers and printers. Test the paper before you buy it because if the paper has a high gloss, the pen might skip across the paper.
Before any piece of paper is used for calligraphy purposes, it is often dyed (most of the by the calligrapher himself), then coated with a starch mixture known as Ahar. It is then polished with a certain tool that gives it a smooth finish. This smooth finish, with less absorbent surface means that any mistakes can easily be lifted from the paper. Today, many calligraphers make use of commercially-produced coated papers.
Paper used for calligraphy is usually cream or tan in appearance, because white paper tires the eyes over time. Papers of other colors (such as blue, yellow or green) were used for special manuscripts like the Koran.
An Arabic Calligraphy paper could also be sprinkled with gold, or marbled (the art of Ebru). Sometimes a calligraphy composition may be cut out letter-by-letter and pasted onto a background of the masterpiece to show a contrasting color, and formatting what is called “a collage”.