The Artistic Script

Essay by Nelly25mattCollege, UndergraduateB+, March 2007

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The Koran was originally written in Arabic, which then became the language of Islam. Back when the Koran originated, figurative art was not allowed in the Islamic area. Therefore, the text had to be more than just words; it had to be fine art. Since then, the Arabic script has encountered a few changes in form.

The earliest form was Kufic, which is the script that the Koran was written. Kufic consists of many straight lines and curved edges. Then, in the thirteenth century came the Thuluth script. This script differed from Kufic because its lines were more curvy and angled. An example of Thuluth script can be found around The Dome of the Rock. Since learning the script can be difficult, the children learn the Nashk style first. This style looks the most basic with its thin, precise lines. There are also larger spaces between characters in this script which is probably what makes it easiest for the children to learn.

Lastly, Riq'a is the style most commonly used today. Because of its popularity, it can likely be found in most modern Arabic publications.

Although these scripts have some slightly different styles, they still can look quite similar to someone unfamiliar with the Arabic alphabet. To the untrained eye the different styles look more like art than words. In fact, all of the forms have been used as some sort of art. When used in this fashion, the text usually circles around the outside making a continuous circle. They can be found around buildings, domes, bowls, pots, and many other objects. In many of these instances the script is somewhat hidden in other patterns and designs.

While the forms of Arabic script can seem visually different, they are often used in the same creative ways. Were these different...