Arabic calligraphy: past and present: calligraphy of a 10th-century folio from an early Qur’an
Arabic calligraphy continues to be a vibrant tradition up to the present day. In this Assignment, please write a 1 page essay (minimum 600 words) comparing and contrasting the calligraphy of a 10th-century folio from an early Qur’an (shown below) with the calligraphy of at least two of the following three contemporary artists: Soraya Sayed, Osman Waqilla, and Mouneer al-Shaarani (images and videos below). I have provided you with some basic information about the works. Your essay should include an introduction, two body paragraphs (one for each comparison) and a conclusion. Each body paragraph should have a topic sentence and a conclusion sentence. Your comparisons should be based on formal analysis of the three works. In your analysis, you might consider some of the following questions:
How do the early Qur’anic calligraphers and the contemporary artists use Arabic text in different ways (consider line, color, text, organization, materials, etc.)?
How do the contemporary artists reimagine or transform Arabic calligraphy through their art? Should these contemporary artists be described as calligraphers? Why or why not?
Images and Videos:
Folio from a Qur’an Manuscript, 993 CE, Iran (Met, 40.164.5a,b)
1. Soraya Sayed’s The Pen & The Sword video installation of a 20th-century brass pen case and 3D technology.
2. Osman Waqilla’s Kaf ha ya ayn sad, 1998
This calligraphic page is inscribed with Chapter 19 (“Maryam”) from the Qur’an in naskh script written within and around the five large letters in thuluth script: kaf ha ya ayn and sad, which appear at the beginning of this chapter. These single letters are some of the mysterious letters of the Qur’an which precede 29 of the 114 chapters. They are believed to be imbued with magical protective properties and are often found engraved on amulets (Venetia Porter, Word into Art, 26).
3. Mouneer al-Shaarani’s By their fruits you shall know them, 1993
In this work Shaarani has chosen a verse from the Gospels, Matthew 7:20, which is the title of this work “By your fruits you shall know them.” (Venetia Porter, Word into Art, 35).