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Arabic Calligraphy

While most faiths have made use of figural images to convey their core convictions, Islam's early theocracy chose words (letters) and their shapes and sizes. Because Islam saw in figural arts a possible implication of idolatry, Islam looked instead to the artistry of calligraphy for religious expression. Safadi, Yasin Hamid (1978) writes, "The primacy of the word in Islam is reflected in the virtually universal application of calligraphy. Writing is given pride of place on all kinds of objects--objects of everyday use as well as entire wall surface, mosque furniture, the interiors and exteriors of mosques, tombs, and al-Ka'ba, the most famous sanctuary of Islam.

Arabic belongs to the group of Semitic alphabetical scripts in which mainly the consonants are represented. Arabic script is derived from the Aramic Nabataean alphabet. It is a script of 28 letters and uses long but not short vowels. These letters are derived from only 17 distinct forms, distinguished one from one another by a dot or dots placed above or below the letter. Short vowels are indicated by small diagonal strokes above or below letters. Written without dots and diacritical points, Arabic script looks flat and barren. But when the dots and diacritical points are added, the script come to life like a garden in spring.

The major six scripts known in calligraphy as al-aqlam al-sittah -- or as Shish Qalam in Persian and Turkish -- are cursive scripts. These scripts were first raised to the status of major scripts when they were subjected to strict calligraphic rules by Ibn Muqlah. The scripts gained grace and beauty at the hands of succeeding master calligraphers, in particular Ibn al-Bawwab (1022), the great Yaqut al-Musta'simi (1298), Shaykh Hamdullah al-Amasi (1520) and Haffiz Uthman (1698).

Please choose from the following classical cursive scripts below:

Source : Islamic & Arabic arts & architecture

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    This page was last updated on    03/29/10.

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