Are you looking up Muslim wall art? Have you been searching for Islamic wall art in order to display in your home or gift to a friend or a family relation? It would help to understand a little bit about Islamic wall art. It is the calligraphy, or stylish handwriting, of verses from the Quran that can be framed and then hanged on the wall. In some cases, especially in historical monuments or mosques, the verses are engraved on the walls.

Arabic calligraphy is the defining feature of Muslim wall art. Though Arabic was the lingua franca in the Arabian peninsula long before the predominance of Muslims in the region, Arabic calligraphy really got a lease of life after the establishment of Islam as the primary religion in the Arabian deserts. As Islam is believed to forbid human or animal imagery, early Muslim rulers hired calligraphers to pen the Holy verses which would then be carved on the walls of buildings.

This way, Arabic calligraphy, often synonymous with Islamic calligraphy, became the dominant form of wall art in the Ottoman, Mughal, Safavid and other Muslim-ruled empires. The Sultan Ahmet Mosque in Istanbul, Turkey and the Taj Mahal in Agra, India, just to name only two examples among many, are examples of Arabic calligraphy applied on walls of monuments.

The abundance of loops, curves, dots, and diacritical marks in the Arabic script made it apt for calligraphy. Letters of the Arabic alphabet can be reduced to a fraction of their size and made to joi with other letters quite seamlessly.

With Muslims conquering and settling in different parts of the world, the art of Arabic calligraphy spread its wings geographically. Muslim rulers employed skilled artists to display on monuments and buildings Islamic calligraphy. It was a way for the rulers to visually expression their faith, perhaps. Calligraphy was also applied on ceramics, wooden artefacts and carpets, and was used to write court papers too.

In each region, a distinct font of Arabic calligraphy evolved. Kufic font, with its straight and angular strokes, came about in Kufa, Iraq; Diwani font, with its of ornateness and fine detailing, developed in the Ottoman empire; the figurative Tughra school flourished in parts of South Asia.

As European imperialists took over Muslim-ruled areas, Arabic calligraphy received a setback, but recovered after the Second World War, when new independent nation-states emerged.

Recently, there has been renewed interest in Arabic calligraphy, probably on account of increasing exposure to different cultures via the internet, travelling, and e-commerce. From historical buildings, Arabic calligraphy is now seen in modern spaces. People are now purchasing ‘Muslim wall art’ via Instagram handles and boutique stores that make and sell Islamic wall art in vareid materials – wall stickers, digital prints on canvas or paper, and stainless steel cut-outs. Many of these pieces are customised for clients.

These days, English translations too are making it to Muslim wall art. Significantly, Arabic isn’t the native language of some eighty per cent of Muslims across the world. The introduction of English in Islamic wall art is thus of spiritual value, as it helps non-Arabic speaking Muslims to ponder more on the message than on the handwriting.

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