The mainstay of Islamic wall art, which consists of wall decals, colourful digital prints, canvas works, ceramic plates and metal frames, is Arabic calligraphy. Indeed, Islamic calligraphy for sale is searched quite a bit on the internet by those wishing to uplift the visual appeal of their homes, as well as to stick spiritual reminders on their walls.
Since decorating walls is something which is done only once or twice over a long period of time, it is important to think hard and do some research before deciding which piece of Islamic wall art to buy.
As mentioned previously, the overriding feature of Islamic wall art is Arabic calligraphy.
So, let us try to understand the different types of Arabic calligraphy.
Arabic calligraphy is often interchangeable with Islamic calligraphy. Even though the Arabic language predates the advent of Islam, and Arabic speakers include non-Muslim Arabs too, Arabic calligraphy as a form of art really evolved after the foundation of the new, complete religion of Islam. First, there was a need felt to transcribe the Quran in the form of a book. This led to the development of Kufic calligraphic font which was characterised by long vertical or horizontal strokes and round characters with tiny counters. It was quite aesthetic but not very legible, especially for non-Arabs who had entered the fold of Islam. Therefore a new font called Naskh was developed. It was aesthetic as well as legible, and most significantly, it heralded the introduction of symbols for vowel sounds. Till today, Naskh is the standard font used in printing the Quran.
Another reason why Arabic calligraphy boomed after the coming of Islam – and this has more to do with art – is that Islam prohibited human and animal imagery. Therefore, artists began finding expression in writing text as a work of art, and this text was usually verses from the Quran. For purposes of art, more artistic calligraphic fonts were developed such as Thuluth which is characterised by long, vertical strokes and emphatic dots and vowel symbols. It’s a grand, majestic font, one that is used in Islamic architecture, including the Taj Mahal.
As Muslims conquered different parts of the world, regional calligraphic styles developed such as the Diwani font which came about in Turkey during the reign of the Ottoman empire. Characterised by slanted letters and ornamental dots, it is a very elaborate and intricate style of writing the Arabic script. Because of its illegibility, it was used to write confidential documents of the court or ‘diwan’ (thus the name ‘Diwani’). But its ornateness also lent it for use in Islamic wall art.
In Iran, the Nastaliq script was developed which was simple and easy to read, and in parts of India, the Tughra style of figurative calligraphy – where text takes the shape of an object – evolved.
As Arabic calligraphy took off after the advent of Islam, and since almost all of Arabic calligraphy (barring the miniscule space taken up by non-religious poetry) consists of the verses of the Quran or sayings from the Hadith, it is used interchangeably with Islamic calligraphy. In fact, the latter term is more popular, and most people search online for Islamic calligraphy for sale when they are shopping for Islamic wall art.