Kufic Calligraphy/Khatt in Islam and Kufic Islamic Wall Arts


Kufic Calligraphy

Kufic Script is a type of Arabic letter calligraphy written with rigid, angular, vertical, horizontal and regular lines. The first common form of calligraphy in Islamic geography is the Kufic script.


(9th cent. vellum Quran in Kufic script, 

Raqqada Museum of Islamic Art)

The History of Kufic Calligraphy

The first prevalent mode of writing in Islamic geography is Kufic, among the styles of calligraphy. Kufic writing is the oldest documented type of Islamic calligraphy. It received its name from today's city of Kufa in Iraq. After Ali (the Prophet Muhammad's cousin and son-in-law) chose Kufa as the center, this style of writing showed a great improvement here and took on the Kufic name. The striking feature of writing in Kufic is that the letters are horizontal and vertical.

The use of Kufic script continued for 150 years in the Abbasid period as well. Ibn Mukie of Baghdad (died 950), the famous vizier of the Abbasids and also calligrapher, succeeded in presenting a system that determines the main dimensions and style of Kufic script with the contribution of his knowledge of geometry.

Ibn Mukie adopted the aliph, circle and dot as a basic unit of measurement in order to assess the beauty of the letters and put forth the methods and specifications of six types of scripts that were then called Aklam-ı Sitte.

Kufic's Djeli (celî) (large letters) persisted until the 9th century to be written on paper. It was used as an architectural feature on plaster and stone continuously until the 12th century and occasionally until the 15th century due to its decorative value. Manuscripts and the Quran, titles and chapters are often the areas of use. The Kufic script was written along with the illumination in certain instances.

Kufic Calligraphy Features and Styles of Kufic Script

All forms of writing derive from the Kufic script. It was therefore also called Ummul'l-hutut meaning the mother of the scriptures.Kufic is a script style which is composed of geometrical forms like straight lines and angles along with verticals and horizontals. Kufic writing is divided into two as artificial kufic and manuscript kufic (thick - celî and thin kufic).

 1) Artificial Kufic;  are scripts written by drawing with tools such as compass and setsquare.

 2) Manuscript Kufic; are kufic writings written with a pen.  These types of writings are monument writings.

Its decorative character led to its use as a decorative element in several public and domestic buildings constructed prior to the Republican period in Turkey.

Today, in our homes, it has lovely and unique touches as well. There are several items developed using different techniques for various materials such as wood, metal, and acrylic in the category of Islamic wall art. On several websites, we can see samples of these items. The Islamic Wall Art Store leads these stores where you can access these special items with a single click. 


(Illuminated Manuscript Koran, Walters Art Museum Ms. W.553, fol.12b)

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