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Islamic calligraphy, colloquially known as Arabic calligraphy, is the art of artistic handwriting, or calligraphy, and by extension, of bookmaking. This art, associated with Islam, has most often employed the Arabic script, throughout many languages including Arabic. Calligraphy is especially revered among Islamic arts since it was the primary means for the preservation of the Qur'an. The work of calligraphers was collected and appreciated. Consideration of figurative art as idolatrous led to calligraphy and abstract depictions becoming the main forms of artistic expression in Islamic cultures.

Arabic, Persian and Ottoman Turkish calligraphy is associated with geometric Islamic art (the Arabesque) on the walls and ceilings of mosques as well as on the page. Contemporary artists in the Islamic world draw on the heritage of calligraphy to use calligraphic inscriptions or abstractions in their work.

Role in Islamic culture



Calligraphy has arguably become the most venerated form of Islamic art because it provides a link between the languages of the Muslims with the religion of Islam. The holy book of Islam, the Qur'an, has played an important role in the development and evolution of the Arabic language, and by extension, calligraphy in the Arabic alphabet. Proverbs and complete passages from the Qur'an are still active sources for Islamic calligraphy. The Arabic alphabet consists of 28 letters and 18 different forms of writing.

The Diwani script is a cursive style of Arabic calligraphy developed during the reign of the early Ottoman Turksmarker (16th and early 17th centuries). It was invented by Housam Roumi and reached its height of popularity under Süleyman I the Magnificent (1520–66). As decorative as it was communicative, Diwani was distinguished by the complexity of the line within the letter and the close juxtaposition of the letters within the word. A variation of the Diwani, the Diwani Al Jali, is characterized by its abundance of diacritical and ornamental marks.

Finally, the most common script for everyday use is Ruq'ah (also known as Riq'a). Simple and easy to write, its movements are small, without much amplitude. It is the one most commonly seen. It is considered a step up from Naskh script, which children are taught first. In later grades they are introduced to Ruq'ah.

In China, a calligraphic form called Sini has been developed. This form has evident influences from Chinese calligraphy, using a horsehair brush instead of the standard reed pen. A famous modern calligrapher in this tradition is Hajji Noor Deen Mi Guangjiang.

Calligrams

Calligraphy, the most Islamic of arts in the Muslim world, has also its figurative sides. By interweaving written words, made from an "Allah", a "Muhammad", a "Bismillah", etc., or using micrography, calligraphers produced anthropomorphic figures ('Ali, the Ideal Human of mystics, a praying man, a face), zoomorphisms (symbolic creatures, most from the Shi'a iconography, like the lion (Duldul, horse of 'Ali, horse ('Ali's Duldul), fish, stork or other bird (the qur'anic Hudhud)) and inanimate representations (a sword (Dhu al-Fiqar), a mosque, a ship (made from the letter waw, a symbol of mystical union, literally meaning "and," in Arabic)). Calligrams are related to Muslim mysticism and popular with many leading calligraphers in Turkeymarker, Persia and Indiamarker from the 17th century onward.

In the teachings of calligraphy, figurative imagery is used to help visualize the shape of letters to trace, for example, the letter ha' looks in nasta'liq similar to two eyes, as its Persian name implies: "he' two eyes" he' do cheshm). In literature and poetry seeing in letters a reflection of the natural world goes back to the Abbasid times.

One of the contemporary masters of the calligram genre is Hassan Massoudy.

Good commercial examples are the logos of Al Jazeera, an international news station based at Qatarmarker, and the Edinburgh Middle East Report, a Scottish academic journal on the Middle East.

Instruments and media



The traditional instrument of the Arabic calligrapher is the qalam, a pen made of dried reed or bamboo; the ink is often in color, and chosen such that its intensity can vary greatly, so that the greater strokes of the compositions can be very dynamic in their effect.

A variety of media were employed for presenting calligraphy. Before the advent of paper, papyrus and parchment were used for writing. The advent of paper revolutionized calligraphy. While monasteries in Europe treasured a few dozen volumes, libraries in the Muslim world regularly contained hundreds and even thousands of volumes of books.

Another medium for calligraphy were coins. Beginning in 692, the Islamic caliphate reformed the coinage of the Near East by replacing visual depiction by words. This was especially true for dinars, or gold coins of high value. Generally the coins were inscribed with quotes from the Qur'an.

By the tenth century, the Persians, who had converted to Islam, began weaving inscriptions on to elaborately patterned silks. So precious were calligraphic inscribed textile, that Crusaders brought them to Europe as prized possessions. A notable example is the Shroud of St. Josse, used to wrap the bones of St. Josse in the abbey of St. Josse-sur-Mer near Caen in northwestern France.

Mosque calligraphy

Islamic Mosque calligraphy is a style of calligraphy that can be found in and out of any mosque. It is considered to be part of Islamic art, more specifically Arabesque. Arabesque is a form of Islamic art known for its repetitive geometric forms creating beautiful decorations. These geometric shapes often include Arabic calligraphy written on walls and ceilings inside and outside of mosques. The subject of these writings can be derived from different sources in Islam. It can be derived from the written words of Qur'an or from the oral traditions relating to the words and deeds of Islamic Prophet Muhammad.

Istanbul Suleymaniye Mosque


Commonly used in mosques:

Bismillah ir-Rahman ir-Rahim

Bismillah ir-Rahman ir-Rahimis the most common phrase found in mosques. It means:"In the name of God, most Gracious, most Compassionate"

Allah & Muhammad

Allah is Arabic for one god and Muhammad is the last prophet in Islam. Both Allah and Muhammad are almost always found inside mosques as a reminder of the religion's main beliefs.

Gallery

Image:Tughra_Mahmuds_II.gif|The stylized signature (tughra) of Sultan Mahmud II of the Ottoman Empire was written in an expressive calligraphy. It reads Mahmud Khan son of Abdulhamid is forever victorious.Image:AndalusQuran.JPG|Page of a 12th century Qur'an written in the Andalusimarker scriptImage:IlkhanidQuran.JPG|Page of an Ilkhanid Qur'an (13th Century)Image:Square-kufio-cross-istfen-1995-02.jpg|A wooden cross with Arabic calligraphy in Square Kufi style. The cross is currently in the National Evangelical Church of Beirut, a Protestant church in Lebanon. The work was made in 1995 by the Lebanese Arab Christian artist Istfén. The writings are John 3:16; they say in Arabic "لأنه هكذا أحب الله العالم حتى بذل ابنه الوحيد لكي لا يهلك كل من يؤمن به بل تكون له الحياة الأبدية". Dimensions of the cross are 140 cm X 100 cm.Image:Coptic&Arabic.jpg|Coptic and Arabic inscriptions in an Old Cairo church. The verses are John 4:13 and 14, in Arabic (بسم الله الرؤف الرحيم كل من يشرب من هذا الماء يعطش أيضاً ولكن من يشرب الماء الذي أعطيته أنا فلن يعطش إلى الأبد )Image:Nastaliq-proportions.jpg|Example showing 's (Persian) proportion rules.Image:Sini script.jpg|Sini fontImage:Caligrafia arabe pajaro.jpg|Arabic calligram in the shape of a birdImage:Bismillah.JPG|Bismillah calligraphyImage:Bismillah.svg|Bismillah calligraphyImage:Learning Arabic calligraphy.jpg|The instruments and work of a student calligrapher.Image:Al_jazeera_Calligraphy_Animation.gif|Animation showing the calligraphic composition of the Al Jazeera logo.



See also

Calligraphers

Some classical calligraphers: Some contemporary calligraphers:

References

  1. Bloom (1999), pg. 218
  2. Bloom (1999), pg. 222
  3. "Gallery", Haji Noor Deen.
  4. BNF - Torah, Bible, Coran. In French.
  5. Praying man, Network of Ethiopian Muslims.
  6. Lion of ’Ali.
  7. Horse of ’Ali.
  8. Stork, Islamic Desktop Wallpapers, A2Youth.
  9. HudHud.
  10. Islamic Bird, UC Santa Cruz Currents Online.
  11. Bloom (1999), pg. 223-5


External links




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