WRITING
WRITING
image
Leaf from a large Koran manuscript written in Muhaqqaq script, 1400-1405, Afghanistan. Ink and gold on paper, 45 x 98 cm. 20/1987

Introduction | Figures | Writing | Geometry | Vegetation | Hybrids

The central miracle in Islam is the Koran, which Muslims believe was revealed in Arabic to the Prophet Muhammad in early seventh-century Arabia. Reverence for the word therefore became a primary theme of religious art, as artists endeavored to make the physical presentation of God's word as beautiful as its content. These two lines come from one of the largest manuscripts of the Koran ever made, a loose-leaf copy produced about 1400 for the congregational mosque built by the warlord Timur at Samarkand in Central Asia. Artists everywhere used verses from the Koran to decorate Islamic art and architecture, and the appreciation of beautiful writing led them to exploit the decorative potential of Arabic script by developing many styles to use in different media and contexts.