An Introduction to Islamic Calligraphy

An Introduction to Islamic Calligraphy examined one of the most important historical developments of the Islamic world. Covering more than a thousand years, it encompassed a vast geographical area: from the Iberian Peninsula in the west, to Southeast Asia and China in the east. Calligraphy plays a vital role in the design of both religious and everyday arts and crafts, as well as in developing a distinctive visual culture inspired by Islam. Major calligraphy styles such as Kufic, Naskh, Thuluth, Muhaqqaq, Rayhani, Tawqi, Riqa, Nasta’liq, Diwani, and Maghribi scripts were developed over the years by prominent exponents and were used as ornament in works of art, glorifying the Word of God. Contemporary calligraphers continue to explore new realms of writing, bringing the light of inspiration and imagination to the paramount visual expression of Islamic culture.

A publication for the exhibition is still available at the Museum Shop, please click here for more information.

The exhibition was on display in Special Gallery 2 at the Islamic Arts Museum Malaysia from 21st January 2020 – 31st December 2020.

Exhibition highlight:

The sitarah (curtain) is a gift to the Prophet’s tomb in Medina, commissioned by the Ottoman Sultan Abdul Majid (d. 1861 AD). This 19th century sitarah is made of red silk embroidered with several calligraphic inscriptions in silver and gilt threads. The Prophet’s saying (Hadith) is embroidered in the centre surrounded by the Profession of Faith (the Shahadah), selected verses of the Qur’an, six medallions of the names of the four companions and the Prophet’s descendents at bottom sides, framed with circulars of the ninety-nine attributions of Allah, the royal tughra appears at the bottom centre as a symbol of the Ottoman Sultans’ governance.