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Islamic Calligraphy: A Quick Trip to the History and Trends

When it comes down to ancient writing art and style, you will be coming across names like Cuneiforms, Hieroglyphs, Islamic Calligraphy and several other names like them. Yet, very few of them survived the acid tests of time. If we take the good old saying “survival for the fittest” in concern, Islamic Calligraphy stands proudly on the top spot as it survived the ups and downs of time. Let’s have a quick look at its history to grasp the whole idea better.

A Glimpse of the History

If you look closely at the ancient civilizations and their forms of writing, you will find them very much dependent on pictures or figures. Unlike them, Islamic Calligraphy is focused on beautifying and strengthening the style of writing and turning it into a form of art. These are the aspects that have been skillfully accomplished by Islamic Calligraphy.

The history of this art goes back all the way to the Roman civilization. Yasin Hamid Safadi, the renowned author of a rejoiced book namely Islamic Calligraphy insists that, this form of art is a late bloomer even after being the second living one of the Roman Alphabet. He also refers to the main reasons behind this late blooming which are the nomadic nature of the Arabians and their high reliability in the oral form of communication.

The foundation of Islamic Calligraphy was laid during the sixth century when the renowned seven Odes namely Al-Muallaqat was written. Then these verses were removed from the Kaba Sharif during the 7th century. This is when the true journey of Calligraphy was triggered. The Holy verses from Al-Qur’an were welcomed in the Kaba Sharif. And as the acceptance of Islam speeded up, the acceptance of Arabic language took a hike also. Even when some of those nations went back to Pre-Islamic era again, they could not entirely separate from the Arabic alphabet. As a result, the journey of Islamic Calligraphy was and is still going strong.

The Trends over Time

Even if there had been writing styles like Madani, Hiri or Macci, the true Calligraphy began with the Kufi style. This style comes along with a very neat and clean style and a geometric touch with it. This is basically a horizontal style of Calligraphy and found in a renowned mosque in Tunisia and on coins from ancient times. There are a couple of descendants of this style which are known as the Andalusi and the Maghribi style of scribing. The flowering and the geometric, both of the Kufi styles are renowned for artistic writing.

Later the Cursive style took over from the Kufi style to scribe mainstream contents like documenting the Holy Qur’an. This style was introduced during the tenth century. This style has six subdivisions which are – the Nash, a very simple and slender version of Calligraphy, the Tulut with a highly energized and monumental touch to it, the Tawqi’, with an extended verticals under the lines, the Riqaa which can be easily called as the mini Tawqi’, the Muhaqqaq and It’s miniature, the Rihani.

Later on, many additions to Islamic Calligraphy have been added all over the world. The Nasta’liq, the Shikasteh, the Diwani, the Bihari, the Sini etc., are the most prominent ones of them. Yet, the topmost one is the Ruq’ah which is a definite upgrade from the Nash. Ruq’ah is the most widely spread and commonly known one of the Calligraphies.

Another form of Calligraphy is known as the Calligrams. If you walk into a calligraphy shop or if your browse online, you can see that there are some Calligraphies which are very distinctly designed as if they are not only some beautiful scribbles but also some patchwork of them. These are called the Calligrams. Calligrams have been very famous since the seventeenth century all over the world.

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