This lavishly illustrated volume takes the reader through a journey of some six centuries of development of the refined arts of calligraphy and illumination in the Islamic world. Much has been written on the dawn and early stages of the development of Arabic script and the position of calligraphy as an art form within Islamic civilization. This catalogue seeks to follow this story further into the golden age of Islamic calligraphy and its appreciation and patronage as the chief form of artistic expression from Islamic Spain to China.
The works of art carefully selected for this catalogue, which accompanies an exhibition at the prestigious Sam Fogg gallery in London, follow the impact of the introduction of paper into the Islamic world and its effect on both the quality and the scope of the calligraphic art form. Paper – rather than parchment – allowed for inscriptions to be penned on a massive scale, and one of the highlights here is a monumental half line from the so-called ‘Baysunghur’ Qur’an, which was probably the largest Qur’an manuscript commissioned by an imperial court.
The transition to paper also witnessed the codification of the ‘six pens’ or six recognized cursive scripts, which still hold. From this standardization of the script styles, lineages of recognized calligraphy masters were established. Calligraphers became hailed as artists and were highly valued at imperial courts. In the great age of the Ottoman Turks, the Safavid Persians and the Mughals in North India, there are numerous accounts of calligraphers moving between these Islamic empires by ever more lavish promises of patronage.
Catalogue by: Andrew Butler - Wheelhouse