Islamic Calligraphy: The Art of Devotion Pictorial

No Comments | January 2018

From the collection of Razwan Baig

Seljuk Ceramics, 12-13th Century AD.
Among the most important innovations of the Seljuk Turks (1040-1194) were ceramic fritwares. Stronger than clay, but remarkably malleable, fritware, or stone-paste, produced a variety of shapes. It also offered a strongly contrasting background for calligraphic inscriptions, such as the rare Kufic script which can be seen on this piece.

Discovering how Islamic calligraphy has formed an integral aspect of Islamic culture for the past 1400 years.

In Islam, various forms of expression have been used to inspire believers towards devotion to God. The exhibition held at the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community’s 51st annual convention provided a glimpse into the world of Islamic calligraphy, showcasing a stunning variety of calligraphic forms over the last 1400 years and from a broad geographic expanse.

The items on display were from the incredible collection of Razwan Baig, one of the foremost collectors of Islamic art in the UK. Razwan Baig has been generously loaning his unique and rare artefacts since the start of the The Review of Religions’ exhibition in 2015. The Review of Religions extends its gratitude to Razwan Baig for his generosity in bringing his personal collection to display and also his tireless efforts, from the initial planning phase when he carefully selects the items, to helping curate the whole exhibition.

A superb antique Islamic Cairoware box engraved with Arabic inscriptions from the early 20th century.

17th century silver metal pot from Afghanistan. It has the 99 attributes of God Almighty inscribed on the pot.

150-year-old brass bowl from Turkey. It is known as a ‘Healing Bowl’. These bowls were used in the Islamic world for the treatment of all kinds of illness. The water placed in such bowls was believed to take on curative aspects after having come into contact with the various talismanic and Quranic symbols and verses etched onto such bowls.

Seljuk Ceramics, 12-13th Century AD
Among the most important innovations of the Seljuk Turks (1040-1194) were ceramic fritwares. Stronger than clay, but remarkably malleable, fritware, or stone-paste, produced a variety of shapes. It also offered a strongly contrasting background for calligraphic inscriptions, such as the rare Kufic script which can be seen on this piece.

15th century pot from the Safavid Empire with Arabic inscription etched in Kufic script.

Traveller Qur’an
A traveller Qur’an which would have typically accompanied pilgrims on Hajj (pilgrimage). Individuals would have used a magnifying glass to read its content.

Calligraphy is not unique to Islam or the Arabic language, but Islamic calligraphy has been expanded and developed to unrivalled sophistication and usage. It has developed far beyond pen and ink, incorporated into architectural elements and objects made of wood, ceramic, metal, textiles, glass, precious stone and more.

As Islam spread, cultures adapted and furthered this unique art form. A small glimpse of this was reflected through a variety of artefacts on display.

Calligraphy on tiles represents one of the most vivid forms of Islamic decorative art. Geometric patterns and brightly coloured tiles were used throughout the Islamic world. These tiles on display show the variation and distinctive patterns and colours used by Islamic calligraphers.

13th century Syrian ink pot from the Mamluk period.

The Rt Hon Earl Howe, Deputy Leader of the House of Lords and Minister of State for Defence, was given an exclusive tour of the Holy Qur’an exhibit by Razwan Baig.

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