Calligraphy is considered the quintessential art form of the Islamic world—Arabic letters decorate objects ranging from bowls to buildings.
The written word acquired unparalleled significance with the arrival of Islam in the Arabian Peninsula.
Calligraphy, from the Greek words kallos (beauty) and graphos (writing), refers to the harmonious proportion of both letters within a word and words on a page.
The origins of the Arabic alphabet can be traced to the writing of the semi-nomadic Nabataean tribes, who inhabited southern Syria and Jordan, Northern Arabia, and the Sinai Peninsula.
With the arrival of Islam and the conversion of many regions, a number of languages adopted the Arabic alphabet even though they bear no linguistic similarity.
The first calligraphic script to gain prominence in Qur'ans and on architecture and portable works of art was kufic.
A new system of proportional cursive scripts was codified from the tenth to the thirteenth century.
Scripts have their own distinct function and history.
Calligraphers are the most highly regarded artists in Islamic culture.
Read in-depth information about featured works of art related to this unit.
A list of resources for additional reading, with grade levels indicated
A list of sources used to compile the information in this unit