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Calligraphy

CALLIGRAPHY

fine islamic writing as an art form.

In the Islamic context, calligraphy refers to the artistic writing of the Arabic script, either in the Arabic


language or in other languages transcribed with the Arabic script. Originally, Islamic calligraphy was an expedient to ensure legibility. It soon became the primary visual art in the realms of Islamic religious influence and remained so at least until the nineteenth century.

Islamic calligraphy shares the characteristics of other fine arts: a long and well-documented history, an extensive roster of renowned practitioners, an elaborate educational protocol, a wide selection of acknowledged masterpieces, a variety of media that are peculiar to it, and a wide range of accepted techniques and styles. In addition, there are religious and cultural regulations that pertain to the teaching, production, and display of Islamic calligraphy. There are also ancillary professionals and amateurs who produce the tools and materials used in the production of the art works, such as inks, marble paper, and pens. Finally, a well-developed body of literature deals with the criticism and appreciation of Islamic calligraphy.

From the beginning of the Islamic period, and possibly substantially before it, two types of writing were used, according to occasion, in the Hijaz region of the Arabian peninsula. One was a simple, loose, and informal script for everyday use. The otherreserved for special purposes, especially religious uses that demanded a spectacular presentationwas the "dry" or stiff style of writing commonly, albeit incorrectly, called Kufic. In Islamic times, this became the favored style for Qurʾanic transcriptions, due to its gravity, legibility, grace, and sheer visual impact.

By the tenth century, new scripts had taken shape from the earlier, informal writing and had gained in popularity. Because the shapes and sizes of the letters were calculated geometrically, these scripts were called "the proportioned scripts." They include the Thuluth, Naskh, and Muhaqqaq scripts. These are commonly referred to as Naskhi (supposedly meaning cursive), a name that has no basis in history.

Four important calligraphers, working in Baghdad during the Abbasid caliphate, founded the modern trend in Islamic calligraphy. These were Muhammad ibn Muqla (d. 940); his brother Abu Abdullah ibn Muqla (d. 939); Ali ibn Hilal, called Ibn al-Baw wab (d. 1022); and Yaqut al-Musta'simi (d. 1298). Through the works and teachings of these

masters, the art of calligraphy radiated to other important Islamic cultural centers.

By the sixteenth century, the center of Islamic calligraphy was to be found in Constantinople (now Istanbul) of the Ottoman Empire. There the pivotal Şeyh Hamdullah (14291520), a lifelong calligrapher, completely revised the structure of the basic scripts, of Thuluth and Naskh in particular, giving them a more precise, lighter, and more dynamic look. Since the life and teaching of this great master, the Ottoman Turkish method has been paramount. This method is distinguished by its special teaching protocols, its attention to detail, and its insistence on the highest standards.

Another Ottoman master, Mehmet Asat Yesari (d. 1798), took the Persian style Nastaʿliq and, while maintaining its basic rules, transformed it into a powerful visual instrument, especially in its large (Celali) version.

Other trends in Islamic calligraphy of significant historical and artistic merit have existed continuously in the Maghrib-Andalusian orbit, in the Persian orbit, and in China. Although Islamic calligraphy reached its apogee in the late nineteenth century, it is experiencing a revival today, in particular due to the efforts of the Research Centre for Islamic History, Art, and Culture in Istanbul (IRCICA). The art continues to reign supreme in its ability to convey in the most emphatic way the written Islamic texts.

see also arabic script.


Bibliography

Bayani, Manijeh; Contadini, Anna; and Stanley, Tim. The Decorated Word: Qurʾans of the 17th to 19th Centuries. New York: Oxford University Press, 1999.

Déroche, François. The Abbasid Tradition: Qurʾans of the 8th to 10th Centuries. New York: Oxford University Press, 1992.

Lings, Martin. The Qurʾanic Art of Calligraphy and Illumination. London: World of Islam Festival Trust, 1976.

Safadi, Yasin Hamid. Islamic Calligraphy. London: Thames and Hudson, 1978.

Safwat, Nabil F. The Art of the Pen: Calligraphy of the 14th to 20th Centuries. London and New York: Oxford University Press, 1996.

Zakariya, Muhammad. "Islamic Calligraphy: A Technical Overview." In Brocade of the Pen: The Art of Islamic Writing, edited by Carol Garrett Fisher. East Lansing: Kresge Art Museum, Michigan State University, 1991.

Muhammad Zakariya

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calligraphy

calligraphy (kəlĬg´rəfē) [Gr.,=beautiful writing], skilled penmanship practiced as a fine art. See also inscription; paleography.

European Calligraphy

In Europe two sorts of handwriting came into being very early. Cursive script was used for letters and records, while far more polished writing styles, called uncials, were used for literary works. Both styles can be seen in papyrus fragments from the 4th cent. BC After the 1st cent. AD the development of the half uncial or minuscule letter from the Roman capital gave rise to an extraordinarily beautiful and long-lasting calligraphy.

As tools and materials of high quality came into use, masterpieces of calligraphic art were produced, e.g., the Irish Book of Kells (8th cent.; Trinity College, Dublin; see under Ceanannus Mór) and the English Lindisfarne Gospels (8th cent.; British Mus.; see Holy Island). Carolingian minuscule script and its splendid and complex derivative, known as Gothic, were the principal calligraphic styles from the 9th to the 14th cent.

The humanistic handwriting style of the Renaissance, a deliberate imitation of Carolingian minuscule, was both aesthetically pleasing and extremely legible. The Italian manuscript copyists of the middle to late 15th cent. produced many glorious calligraphic works. Among the best known of these masters were Matteo Contugi, Gianrinaldo Mennio, and Pierantonio Sallando. Alphabet design became a subject of study, and several technical treatises were published on writing styles.

By the late 16th cent., with the secure establishment of the printing press, the art of calligraphy declined generally throughout Europe. Penmanship of a relatively inferior sort was taught in elementary schools in England and in the United States until the late 19th cent. The 20th cent. has experienced a revival of interest in the art, influenced by the work of Owen Jones and William Morris. Fine calligraphy is currently taught in art and craft schools and is exhibited in museums.

Asian Calligraphy

In the East calligraphy has been consistently practiced as a major aesthetic expression. In China, from the 5th cent. BC, when it was first used, calligraphy has always been considered equal, or even superior, to painting. Chinese calligraphy began with a simplified seal script, known as "chancery script," in which the width of the strokes varies and the edges and ends are sharp. The perfection of the brush in the 1st cent. AD made possible the stylization of chancery script into "regular script," distinguished by its straight strokes of varying width, and clear, sharp corners, and a cursive "running hand."

The Japanese value calligraphy as highly as do the Chinese. They began to practice it only in the 7th cent. AD, with the introduction of Buddhist manuscripts from China. Kukai, c.800, invented the syllabic script, which was based on Chinese characters.

Arabic Calligraphy

The art of calligraphy is also practiced with the limited letter alphabet of Arabic. Because the Muslim faith discourages pictorial representation and reveres the Qur'an, the Islamic peoples esteem calligraphy as highly as do those of East Asia. The earliest Islamic calligraphy is found in the beautiful Qur'ans, written with black ink or gold leaf on parchment or paper in formal, angular script. Begun by the 8th cent., this script was fully developed by the 10th.

Elaborations, such as foliation, interfacing, and other complexities were invented later, but they are used only for decorative work. Qur'ans continued to be copied in austere and monumental letters. In the 12th cent. rounded cursive style was invented and spread throughout Islam. Many different cursive scripts developed thereafter. In Islam calligraphy decorates mosques, pottery, metalwork, and textiles, as well as books.

Bibliography

See H. Child, Calligraphy Today (1964, repr. 1988); D. Miner, ed., 2,000 Years of Calligraphy (1965, repr. 1972); A. Baker, Calligraphy (1973); P. Standard, Calligraphy's Flowering, Decay, and Restoration (1977); Z. Ouyang and W. C. Fong, Chinese Calligraphy (2008); C. Calderhead and H. Cohen, ed., The World Encyclopedia of Calligraphy (2011).

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Calligraphy

Calligraphy. The skill and art of writing is admired in all religions and advanced to a great height in some. In Judaism, the work of a scribe was related to the proper transmission of judgements in courts of law. In Christianity, the same work of carefully transmitting sacred texts led to the illumination of manuscripts. In Islam, the importance of calligraphy reflected the prominence of the absolute and uncorrupted nature of the Word of God expressed through the Qurʾān. Not only in text, but also on buildings, the elaboration of the visible word became a major form of art. No less important was calligraphy in China, being an expression of underlying philosophies in which word and painting are necessarily at one. This was taken to a consummate level in Zen calligraphy (see BOKUSEKI) where the very act of putting brush to paper is to participate in the single buddha-nature of all things.

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"Calligraphy." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of World Religions. . Encyclopedia.com. 22 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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calligraphy

calligraphy Art of fine writing. Calligraphy is freehand, with components in proportion to each other. In Europe, there was a marked difference between uncial hands used for literary works, which are rounded, easily inscribed letters, and cursive hands, used for documents and letters, which are more regularized. Fragments on papyrus from the 3rd century bc show a variety of cursive hands. Several different types of Greek uncials were used in Roman times. During the 8th century, the minuscule superseded the uncial for ordinary, commercial purposes. Intentional complexity was developed to prevent forgeries. The 20th century has seen a revival of calligraphy.

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calligraphy

cal·lig·ra·phy / kəˈligrəfē/ • n. decorative handwriting or handwritten lettering. ∎  the art of producing decorative handwriting or lettering with a pen or brush. DERIVATIVES: cal·lig·ra·pher / -fər/ n. cal·lig·ra·phist / -fist/ n. ORIGIN: early 17th cent.: from Greek kalligraphia, from kalligraphos ‘person who writes beautifully,’ from kallos ‘beauty’ + graphein ‘write.’

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calligrapher

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calligraphy

calligraphydaffy, taffy •Amalfi •Cavafy, Gaddafi •Effie •beefy, Fifi, leafy •cliffy, iffy, jiffy, Liffey, niffy, sniffy, spiffy, squiffy, stiffy, whiffy •salsify •coffee, toffee •wharfie •Sophie, strophe, trophy •Dufy, goofy, Sufi •fluffy, huffy, puffy, roughie, roughy, scruffy, snuffy, stuffy, toughie •comfy • atrophy •anastrophe, catastrophe •calligraphy, epigraphy, tachygraphy •dystrophy, epistrophe •autobiography, bibliography, biography, cardiography, cartography, chirography, choreography, chromatography, cinematography, cosmography, cryptography, demography, discography, filmography, geography, hagiography, historiography, hydrography, iconography, lexicography, lithography, oceanography, orthography, palaeography (US paleography), photography, pornography, radiography, reprography, stenography, topography, typography •apostrophe •gymnosophy, philosophy, theosophy •furphy, murphy, scurfy, surfy, turfy

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