WINNER OF THE BRITISH-KUWAIT FRIENDSHIP SOCIETY PRIZE 2007 'This must be the best book ever written about Islamic Calligraphy. Its author has carefully judged it to meet the demands not only of anyone interested in Arabic writing, but also of specialists. The Judges Panel agreed that this is a work of profound erudition and insight.' Now available in paperback, this stunning book is an important contribution to a key area of non-western art, being the first reference work on art of beautiful writing in Arabic script. The extensive use of writing is a hallmark of Islamic civilization. Calligraphy, the art of beautiful writing, became one of the main methods of artistic expression from the seventh century to the present in almost all regions from the far Maghrib, or Islamic West, to India and beyond. Arabic script was adopted for other languages from Persian and Turkish to Kanembu and Malay. Sheila Blair's groundbreaking book explains this art form to modern readers and shows them how to identify, understand and appreciate its varied styles and modes.
The book is designed to offer a standardized terminology for identifying and describing various styles of Islamic calligraphy, and to help Westerners appreciate why calligraphy has long been so important in Islamic civilization. The argument is enhanced by the inclusion of more than 150 colour illustrations, as well as over 100 black-and-white details that highlight the salient features of the individual scripts and hands. Examples are chosen from dated or datable examples with secure provenance, for the problem of forgeries and copies (both medieval and modern) is rampant. The illustrations are accompanied by detailed analyses telling the reader what to look for in determining both style and quality of script. This beautiful book is an ideal reference for anyone with an interest in Islamic art.
Sheila S. Blair is the Norma Jean Calderwood University Professor of Islamic and Asian Art at Boston College.
List of Figures List of Abbreviations Glossary Index Part I: Introduction Chapter 1: Arabic Script: Its Role and Principles Chapter 2: Materials Part II: The Development of Arabic Script in Early Islamic Times Chapter 3: The Standardization of Arabic Script Chapter 4: Early Manuscripts of the Koran Part III: The Pre-Eminence of Round Scripts in the Early Middle Period Chapter 5: The Adoption of Round Scripts Chapter 6: The Proliferation of Round Scripts Part IV: The Emergence of Regional Styles in the Later Middle Period Chapter 7: Calligraphy in Iran and its Environs under the Mongols and Turkomans Chapter 8: Rectilinear and Curvilinear Scripts in Egypt and Syria under the Mamluks Chapter 9: Other Styles and Centers Part V: Dynastic Styles in the Age of Empires Chapter 10: The Safavids, the Qajars, and their Contemporaries in Iran and Central Asia Chapter 11: The Ottomans in Anatolia, the Balkans, and the Eastern Mediterranean Chapter 12: Other Styles and Centers Part VI: The Many Faces of Islamic Calligraphy in Modern Times Chapter 13: From Traditional Styles to Graphic Design and Calligraphic Art Bibliography Copyright Acknowledgements Index