Islamic Calligraphy as an Art Form

Islamic Calligraphy as an Art Form

Mini Exhibit
October 2017

Sophisticated calligraphy as an art form is widespread in Islamic culture.  Used in varied and imaginative ways, Islamic calligraphy is held in great esteem by Muslims.  Because of the art form's strong association with the Qu'ran, suspicion of figurative art as idolatrous has contributed to the development of Islamic calligraphy as a uniquely original feature of Islamic culture.  This is also partly because Arabic is the language of their holy book, the Qu'ran. 

Muslims generally hold Islamic calligraphers in very high regard as they go through rigorous training before they are able to master the techniques involved in producing that beautiful art form.  Calligraphers use several scripts in their work to adorn canvas, buildings, cloth, metal, or glass among many other materials.

The books on display showcase not only the breadth but also the intricate designs of these works of art.

Hervé R. Thomas, MPA ‘17


On Display:

Calligraphy and Architecture in the Muslim World, ed. Mohammad Gharipour and İrvin Cemil Schick
Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2013
Marquand, Oversize NK3636.5.A2 C344 2013q

Islamic Arts Museum Malaysia
Nun wa al Qalam: Contemporary Muslim Calligraphy; The collection of the Islamic Arts Museum Malaysia
Kuala Lumpur: Islamic Arts Museum Malaysia, 2013
Marquand Library, Oversize NK3636.5 .I746 2013q

The Aura of Alif: The Art of Writing in Islam, ed. Jürgen Wasim Frembgen
Munich and New York: Prestel, 2010
Marquand Library, Oversize NK3636.5 .A97 2010q

Islamic Calligraphy from the Wellcome Library, ed. Nikolaj Serikoff. Compiled by F. Abdullaeva et al.
Chicago: Serindia; London: Wellcome Trust Centre for the History of Medicine at University College London, 2007
Marquand Library, Oversize NK3636.5 I85 2007q

Tareq Rajab Museum (Kuwait)
The Harmony of Letters: Islamic Calligraphy from the Tareq Rajab Museum. Intro. and catalogue entries by Nabil F. Safwat, with contributions from Géza Fehérvári and Mohamed Zakariya.
Singapore: Asian Civilisations Museum, National Heritage Board, 1997
Marquand Library, Oversize NK3636.5.A2 T373 1997q

Abdelkébir Khatibi and Mohamed Sijelmassi
L'art calligraphique de l'Islam
Paris: Gallimard, 1994
Rev. and updated ed. of L’art calligraphique arabe, Paris: Chêne, 1976.
Marquand Library, Oversize NK3636.5.A2 K46 1994q


Islamic Calligraphy as an Art Form