Imagining Islamic Aesthetics #32 – Islamic Calligraphy as Building Decoration

If you are a long time reader of this blog, you would probably seen some pictures of buildings or mosques that are decorated with calligraphy. So in this edition of Imagining Islamic Aesthetics I would like to focus more on these decoration method the Muslims used on their structures, particularly mosques.

Islamic calligraphy in any of its form are used as one of the decorations of buildings and structures utilized by the Muslims as it is one of the Islamic Decorative Canon. the others that is the Geometric designs and Arabesques are used alongside Calligraphy for decoration as well. It is executed in many ways – in carvings, paintings and even with tiles. All, if not most, calligraphy styles are used.

The Minaret at Qutb Minar in Delhi, India. The carved Arabic calligraphy in Thuluth style formed bands around the tower.

Another calligraphy executed in carved plaster in
Bab Agnaou Medrassa in Fez, Morocco. The style is Fezi, or Fez Style.

Fragment of a frieze bearing a floriated Kufic inscription: the ayat al-Kursi, or Throne verse from the Qu’ran. Aleppo pine, with carved, painted and gilded decoration. Fatimid Egypt, end of the 10th century.

Arabic Calligraphy in The Wazir Khan Mosque in Lahore, Pakistan. The Calligraphy is a Hadith (prophet’s tradition) in Arabic.

Author - Marius Arnesen from Oslo, Norway

Friday Mosque in  Herat, Afghanistan. Cool cobalt blue tiles with calligraphy is common in central Asian mosques.


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