I have touched the topic regarding the Arabic script calligraphy and its styles and type. For this edition of Imagining Islamic aesthetics I would like to focus on one of the styles of the Arabic calligraphy – Kufic.
As I have noted in my post regarding Arabic calligraphy, The Kufic script is the earliest stylized form of the Arabic script. Used mainly from the seventh to the tenth century, it is used for writing the holy book of the Muslims, the Al-Quran, before being used as decorative script for monuments. The Kufic script main feature is that it is angular and geometric, unlike its curvy cousins of Nasakh script and the like.
Taken from the description of the photo – The ‘Uthman Qur’an is housed in Tashkent in Uzbekistan. This manuscript is also known as the Samarqand manuscript and the Tashkent (Samarqand) Qur’an. Script: Kufic. Part of Sura XXII, verses 9-11.
This Qur’an was manufactured in the 8th Century, during the Caliphate Uthman reign, hence the name. The earliest Qur’an are writ in angular Kufic styles with no markings or notes to help the reader to correctly pronounce each word, mainly because Islam is still in its infancy, and most, if not all, Muslims then are Arabs.
Taken from the description of the photo – Cup with votive inscriptions in Kufic script. Terracotta, slipped decoration painted on slip and under glaze, 10th-11th century, Nishapur (Tepe Madraseh). Metropolitan Museum of Art (MET 40.170.15)
As well as a script for the writing of the Al-Qur’an, the Kufic script is also used for smaller items such as boxes, pyxies and like the above example, a cup.
Taken from the description of the photo – Kufic inscriptions from the Quran on Bab Agnaou (12th century)in Marrrakech.
After the tenth century, the Kufic script falls from its place of being the preferred script for printing the Al-Qur’an with the emergence of curvy and more readable scripts to being used as monumental script to decorate buildings such as mosques or palaces.
Taken from the description of the photo – Funerary stele with inscriptions in Kufic script, cursive script on the border. Carved and painted marble, 1308, found in Djemila, Algeria.
The Kufic script, post-tenth century, are used as decorative elements on monuments and building, both large and small. This example shows that the Kufic script is also favoured for stele or plaques.
A Qur’anic verse carved using the Kufic script, from the Mosque of Sultan Hasan, Cairo, Egypt. The script, over the years, enjoys the attention of being used as monumental scripts, hence, the script became more and more stylized. With the invention of the Arabesques and techniques in architectural decoration are discovered, they are combined making a notably more striking script than how it used to be centuries before, when it was the script of the Al-Qur’an.