Styles of Islamic calligraphy

Have you been looking for Islamic art for sale? Ahead of visiting a store to buy Islamic art for home, perhaps you can do well to read about the different style of Arabic or Islamic calligraphy, the outstanding feature of Islamic art. In Islamic calligraphy, verses from the Quran are written in different fonts or writing styles, which developed over a period of time at different places. Some popular ones are explained below.

Islamic calligraphy

  1. Kufic: Believed to be among the earliest fonts, Kufic was developed in Kufa, Iraq, around the seventh century and is said to be the first writing style in which the Quran was transcribed. It is said that the Arabic script at that point of time had no diacritical marks or symbols to denote vowels. In Kufic, letters have horizontal strokes that are either too long or too short, and the round-shaped characters have tiny counters. With Arab conquests of non-Arab regions, and the subsequent conversion of non-Arabic speaking to Islam, diacritical marks were introduced to the Arabic script. But by then, that’s about the 10th century, a new font called Naskh had emerged, even as Kufic fell into disuse, being limited to only decorative purposes such as painting ceramics. While Kufic branched branched into different forms such floral, foliated, plaited or interlaced, bordered, and squared, its use was limited to decoration, while for the higher purpose of transcribing the Quran, Naskh was the preferred font.
  2. Naskh: Naskh, unlike angular Kucfic, was a cursive style, and included diacritical marks as well as vowel symbols. It was both easy to read and write, particularly for the new non-Arab converts to Islam. It continues to be hugely relevant, as it is the primary Arabic font used in the Quran. It also the font of the standard Arabic script, and is thereby used in newspapers, magazines, and official correspondence.
  3. Thuluth: While Naskh is primarily used for literature, Thuluth is used for artistic purposes, in particular calligraphy. Unlike Kufic though, Thuluth, despite being stylish, is easy to read. English for ‘one third’, ‘thuluth’ involves letters that are ‘one-thirds straight’. Technicalities apart, Thuluth’s obvious features to lay eyes are its long vertical lines, broad spacing and special emphasis on dots and other vowels sounds, thus rendering the script a grand and striking appearance, because of which, it is used for the purpose of calligraphy on monuments and mosques.
  4. Nast’aliq: Evolving in Iran, Nastaliq is applied in non-religious work like writing court documents, apart from transcribing religious literature. In Nastaliq (ta’liq means “hanging”), the letters have a leftward slant, thus rendering the script a slightly ‘hanging’ look.
  5. Diwani: Developed during the Ottoman sultanate in the 16th century, Diwani is an elaborate, intricate font with slightly slanted letters, the narrow spaces between which are densely filled with ornate dots. Difficult to read, Diwani was used in writing secret court scrolls. In the current age, its decorativeness renders it suitable for use in making Islamic art for home. One can find many Diwani calligraphy pieces in Islamic art for sale.

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