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The Qur’an

Calligraphy and its styles

Muhammad Usman
Early languages were forms of art that helped the writers and speakers

communicate. Most of the early arts like the Egyptian hieroglyphics which were only

drawn by artists who knew what they were doing. Later languages developed into

more communication sources than artistic. Many different groups put their artwork

and writing on different levels. But the calligraphic Arabic language is written

without vowels and without many punctuation rules, there are no capital letters. 1It

is a language which puts the artist’s skills and the communication part in one

writing. The Qur’an is written in the script which had very much evolved from the

ancient Kufic script into Naskhi, Muhaqqaq, and Thuluth.

The artwork that I picked to do my paper on is from the 14 thcentury Iran. The

Qur’an is a sacred object and a sacred text; it has to be treated with respect. There

are many different versions of Arabic but in this specific artwork, it seems to be

Muhaqqaq that is being used as the written language. In Iran, there is a dominant

population of people who talk in Farsi in the present but when this was written,

there could have been both a mix of Arabic and Farsi being spoken.

The Arabic script formed around the 4th century and had many different forms

of writing it. The most prominent is still Naskhi. Other scripts like the kufic, thuluth,

syatath, and muhaqqaq were also used but most were regional and had some sort

of an artistic touch to them. Kufic was used for work on stones and metal.2

The Arabic world had a lot of different styles of calligraphy and there were

always two main forms of calligraphy used. 3One for business, daily use and easy

writing and the other for art and creative purposes. Naskhi was used as the

business and daily correspondence cursive script. It is still in use and is the most

widely used in the Arabic world. Naskhi script was in use by the 4th century and is

often said to have been developed by Ibn Muqlah and Ibn al-Bawwah. Naskhi is used

mainly for the copying of the Qur’an.

The artwork seems to have survived in good condition. Considering that it is a

Qur’an, which are respected and kept in good condition, it has to have lasted

through time easily. The way it’s written, the ink is not smeared or any that would

affect the calligraphy is not present.

In my opinion, the Qur’an is a beautiful artwork, this piece I saw and many

others I have seen, it presents the difference of the way Arabic has been written

throughout time which is a good way to look at history. The artwork at this museum

shows different types of artwork and lets you compare the different areas in one


1"Naskh." Wikipedia. 2008. 17 Oct. 2008 <>.

2"alphabet." Encyclopædia Britannica. 2008. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. 20 Nov. 2008

3Art of Arabic Calligraphy. 1993. 20 Nov. 2008
4"naskhī script." Encyclopædia Britannica. 2008. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. 20 Nov. 2008