Sculpted stonework with a calligraphic inscription. Seljuk, 13th century.
Islamic calligraphy, also known as ‘Arabic calligraphy’, is the artistic practice of handwriting, calligraphy, and by extension, of bookmaking, in the lands sharing a common Islamic cultural heritage. This art form is based on the Arabic script, which for a long time was used by all Muslims in their respective languages. The calligrapher can pursue different goals: the pure beauty of the line, the readability of the text, the monumentality of the inscription, symmetry, dynamic flow, even the suggestion or contours of an object.
Muslims used calligraphy to represent God because they denied representing God with images. It is especially revered among Islamic arts since it was the primary means for the preservation of the Koran. Suspicion of figurative art as idolatrous led to calligraphy and abstract depictions becoming a major form of artistic expression in Islamic cultures, especially and particularly in religious contexts.
Correspondent: J.M.Criel, Antwerpen.
From Alanya, Karaman Period, Barak Bala tomb, 1504.
Inscription from Alanya, 1504 (Karaman period), from the Barak Baba Tomb, “Deceased, donated, martyr, in need of mercy, Barak the son of Ibrahim year 909”.