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Calligraphy – the geometry of the spirit

This article appeared on pages 16-27 of the September/October 1989 print edition of Saudi Aramco World. Islamic calligraphy is without doubt the most original contribution of Islam to the visual arts, yet it is only…

Manuscript of a Sulawesi Qur’an.

The Qur’an

As the word of God revealed to the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), the verses of the Qur’an are canonical and cannot be changed. Because of the centrality of the Qur’an to the religion of Islam, copying all or some of its verses in any medium is considered a pious act. Over time a wide variety of styles of writing Arabic script developed, but not all of these were considered appropriate for copying Qur’ans. Qur’an manuscripts from the first two centuries of Islam were written on parchment in an angular style called Kufic after the Iraqi city of Kufa, an early Muslim capital.

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The Farjam Collection of Islamic Art

The Farjam Collection is one of the most impressive privately-owned collections in the world today. Featuring Islamic and pre-Islamic art, Contemporary Middle-Eastern art and International Modern and Contemporary Art, the Collection is born…

Tile with Arabic inscription, Iran, about 1215. Museum no. 1481-1876

Calligraphy in Islamic art – beyond pen and paper

The development of sophisticated calligraphy as an art form is not unique to Islamic culture. Other examples include Chinese and Japanese calligraphy and illuminated bibles from north-west Europe including the famous Book of…

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Styles of Calligraphy

From the book – ‘Calligraphy and Islamic Culture’. Come, O pen of composition and write letters. In the name of the Writer of the Well-preserved Tablet and the Pen!1 Thus begins a sixteenth-century…

Leaf from a Qur'an manuscript, late 9th–10th century, Possibly Syria, Ink, gold, and colors on vellum

Leaf from a Qur’an manuscript, late 9th–10th century

This page is from a dispersed manuscript, many folios of which once belonged to the scholar R. M. Riefstahl. The angular kufic script is moderated by the roundness of several letters that look…

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Amulet 11th Century

Centuries before block printing was introduced in Europe, the technique was used in the Islamic world to produce miniature texts consisting of prayers, incantations, and Qur’anic verses that were kept in amulet boxes….

Style in Islamic Art (750-1250 AD)

Abbasid Style The Abbasid style emerged in Iraq between 750 and 850, when the Abbasid dynasty was at the height of its power. The Abbasid caliphs constructed huge and lavishly decorated palaces at…

Islamic Calligraphy – 1250 to 1450 A.D.

  Written in a bold muhaqqaq script with the word Allah in gold, this page is from chapter three of the Koran (the House of Imran), verses 79 and 80. The passage stresses…

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Islamic Architecture – Abbasid Period

Under theAbbasid caliphate (750–1258), which succeeded the Umayyads (661–750) in 750, the focal point of Islamic political and cultural life shifted eastward from Syria to Iraq, where, in 762, Baghdad, the circular City of Peace…

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