An 11th- or 12th-century Qur’an, written on parchment on paper in an Eastern kufic script, showing important developments in Arabic grammar.
What’s different about eastern kufic script?
Eastern kufic script, first developed by the Persians, is characterised by long upright strokes and short strokes inclining to the left. Specific styles were evolved within eastern kufic, such as the qarmatian used here. Its name is possibly derived from the Arabic verb qarmata, which means to write in a fine hand, with small letters that are close together. The appearance of eastern kufic script coincided with both the change from parchment to paper in the Islamic Near East and the reappearance of the vertical book format. Such a shift underlines the relationship between the physical shape of the volume and the script of the manuscript.
A further development in the notation of vowel signs was introduced in Qur’an manuscripts: the older system of red dots to indicate short vowels was combined with new notations, seen here in black. These markers are still in use today and used predominantly for the Qur’an and complicated or instructional texts.
Explore more of this manuscript on our Digitised Manuscripts website.
- Article by:
- The British Library
An overview of articles and British Library resources relating to Islam.
- Article by:
- Colin F Baker
- Illuminated texts, Islam
Arabic calligraphy is a form of reverence for the Qur’an. Dr Colin Baker outlines the development of qur’anic calligraphy, from some of the earliest existing Qur’ans. He also explores geographic variations in scripts alongside developments in Arabic grammar, changing mediums and Qur’an formats.