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Whether it’s Michael Jordan, Christ on the cross, or the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue, Westerners are accustomed to images of their deities. In most parts of the Islamic world, however, such representations are expressly forbidden. That’s why calligraphy—from the Greek word for “beautiful writing”—developed into such an exalted art, especially when the text was the holy Koran itself. The exhibition “Imaging the Word: Selections of Calligraphy from the Islamic World” collects more than 30 exquisite examples of calligraphy on paper, silk, steel, and precious metals, all purchased by, given, lent, or promised to the Sackler Gallery. Today, Massumeh Farhad, the museum’s associate curator of Islamic art, will discuss some of the essential characteristics of Islamic calligraphy, using examples from the exhibition to illustrate her talk. Farhad lectures at noon at the Sackler, 1050 Independence Ave. SW. Free. (202) 357-2700. (Mark Jenkins)