This stunning book is an important contribution to a key area of non-western art, being the first reference work on the art of beautiful writing in Arabic script.
The extensive use of writing is a hallmark of Islamic civilization. Calligraphy, the art of beautiful writing, became one of the main methods of artistic expression from the seventh century to the present in almost all regions from the far Maghrib, or Islamic West, to India and beyond. Arabic script was adopted for other languages from Persian and Turkish to Kanembu and Malay. Sheila S. Blair's groundbreaking book explains this art form to modern readers and shows them how to identify, understand and appreciate its varied styles and modes. The book is designed to offer a standardized terminology for identifying and describing various styles of Islamic calligraphy and to help Westerners appreciate why calligraphy has long been so important in Islamic civilization.
The argument is enhanced by the inclusion of more than 150 colour illustrations, as well as over a hundred black-and-white details that highlight the salient features of the individual scripts and hands. Examples are chosen from dated or datable examples with secure provenance, for the problem of forgeries and copies (both medieval and modern) is rampant. The illustrations are accompanied by detailed analyses telling the reader what to look for in determining both style and quality of script.
This beautiful book is an ideal reference for anyone with an interest in Islamic art.
Sheila S. Blair is the Norma Jean Calderwood Professor of Islamic and Asian Art at Boston College. She is author of the prize-winning Islamic Inscriptions (Edinburgh University Press, 1998) and A Compehdium of Chronicles: Rashid al-Din's Ilustrated History of the World (1995). She is co-author of Islam: A Thousand Years of Faith and Power (2000), Islamic Arts (1997) and The Art and Architecture of Islam 1250-1800 (1994).
Accolades and what others have said
- Winner of the Iranian Book Prize in Islamic Studies
- Winner of the British-Kuwait Friendship Society Prize
- Choice Outstanding Academic Title
- ”A compendium of (almost) everything we know about the subject ... [its publication] is a significant moment in the history of its subject ... a real achievement. “ Times Literary Supplement
- ”An essential key to understanding Islamic arts and civilization, this reference is not to be missed.” Califonia Book Review
- ”This must be the best book ever written about Islamic Calligraphy.” Judges of the British-Kuwait Friendship Society Prize
1st paperback edition, 2008, 682pp, over 250 plates, 150 in full colour, 19 x 24.6 cm