Tuesday, November 8, 2011

More Caligraphy...

Since our final this unit seems to be centered on writing mediums, thought I‘d give a little insight more insight on Islamic calligraphy and how they displayed. As in one of my earlier posts I mentioned that calligraphy was perhaps the single most important medium in Islamic culture. It was a way they could express themselves religiously.
One of the more reverent ways I discovered is their use of calligraphy in typical mosques. You know those domes you usually see on the huge Arab mosques (like the ones from Aladdin)? On the interior, they have specific references to the Quran elaborately written in calligraphy (see image below). To me this is significant because it symbolizes the Islam dedication to looking up towards God.
Now, in regards to our civilization group’s Rosetta Project, we plan on doing something similar. That is to say, we will paint a Quran related mural on the ceiling of the Maeser Building… or on a piece of paper if that doesn’t work.
Technically, we could use paper since paper partly came from the Middle East. Originally, the Chinese discovered how to make paper; however, they aren’t credited with the wide spreading of written knowledge. As we learned in class on Tuesday, the complexity of Chinese characters detracted from efficient written knowledge especially when it came to print. In such, paper technology spread to the Middle East. The first paper mill was then established in Baghdad around the 9th century which allowed for an influx of Quran written copies. Turns out, Arabs actually devised assembly-line methods of handwriting religious scripture as well as more secular forms of knowledge including maps, business transactions etc. Paper became such an integral part in expanding Islamic written knowledge. It wasn’t even until the 10th century that paper technology finally spread to Spain and the rest of Europe.
In this one article I read, if it had not been for Islamic influence in the West, Europe may have never known about paper until the 13th century when Marco Polo discovered China. Interesting how the spreading of folk knowledge, such as paper making, affects another culture’s written knowledge as well.


  1. How do we really preserve the things we want to nowadays, do you think? I feel like we still tend towards stone for monuments and, I guess, acid-free paper. In the culture I'm studying, things were written on palm leaves, and then rewritten when the palm leaves deteriorated. As the practice of making those palm leaf sheets fell out, they began to just try to preserve those leaves they already have.

  2. I never realized they ornately wrote passages from the Quran on the ceilings of their mosques. It's somewhat similar to ceilings being painted in Cathedrals like the Sistine Chapel, but they actually wrote the passages out instead of illustrating them.