Imagining Islamic Aesthetics #31 – Nasakhi Calligraphy

For this posting of Imagining Islamic Aesthetics I would like to focus on Nasakhi/Nasakh script, one of the cursive calligraphy types of the Arabic script.

The/ Nasakhi script is thought to be invented by an Iranian/Persian who goes by the name Ibn Muqlah Shirazi(Persian: ابن المقله شیرازی) . In Arabic, Nasakhi/Nasakh means “to abolish” or “to copy” due to the fact that this script allows of easier copying of the Muslim holy book, the Al-Quran than the older script Kufic, the former script used. As usual, detailed info will be posted in another category. The description of the pictures are taken directly from the original description themselves.

Author - NID chick

Alai Darwaza within Qutub Minar Complex. The Calligraphy around the gateway (the white carved decorations) are in Nasakhi script.

Source - Library of Congress

The verses 1-20 of the chapter of the Qur’an entitled al-Muzzammil (The Enshrouded One). The text is executed in a clear naskh and outlined by gold cloud bands decorated with red and blue flowers. Diacritics are executed in black ink, while some pronunciation and reading signs are picked out in red ink. Verse markers consist of six-petalled gold rosettes decorated with blue dots and red lines. The script, text layout, and illumination are all typical of Safavid Qur’ans produced during the second half of the 16th century in the southwestern Iranian city of Shiraz.

Quran copy by Ottoman calligrapher Shaykh Hamdullah, late 15th century. Naskh script.

This calligraphic fragment is available from the United States Library of Congress's African & Middle Eastern division under the digital ID ascs.006

This fragment includes a poem in Arabic written in black naskh script on a beige paper. The words are fully vocalized in black and framed by cloud bands on a gold background. The text panel is framed in blue and pasted to a larger sheet of green paper backed by cardboard. On the final line, the calligrapher Vassal states that he has written the work (hararahu) on a Monday night during the months of the year (fi laylat al-ithnayn min shuhur sanah) 1258/1842. The calligrapher can be identified as the famous naskh-revivalist Vassal-i Shirazi الوصال الشيرازي (d. 1262/1846), the greatest Iranian calligrapher of the 19th century (see the numerous fragments by him published in Tavoosi 1987, 40 et seq). He seems to have executed this piece only four years before his death in 1262/1846.

Source - The Chester Beatty Library

Chapters XCI-XCIV. The script he has used in this Qur’an is considered by many to be a naskh-rayhan variant, rather than pure naskh. This Qur’an is thought to be the earliest existing example of a Qur’an written in a cursive script. It is also important as an early example of a Qur’an copied in a vertical format on paper.


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