Poetry and Prayer: Islamic Manuscripts from the Walters Art Museum

Poetry and Prayer

Islamic Manuscripts from the Walters Art Museum

Poetry Ritual Prayer Recitation Calligraphy Personal Piety Digital Books

Calligraphy—a Marker of Poetry and Prayer

The Qur’an, revealed and transcribed in the Arabic language, gives the art of writing a central position in Islamic culture. Arabic script serves as a visual marker of identity for Muslim communities. It also serves as a marker of poetry and prayer. Certain scripts, including kufic, naskh, thuluth, and muhaqqaq, are often selected for sacred and devotional works. Others, such as nasta’liq, are the script of choice for non-sacred poetic verses. The central role of prayer, poetry, and prose in Islamic societies led to calligraphy becoming the most important visual art form, and its practitioners the elite among artists. Tools for writing were made with great care and became objects of art themselves. The pen, in particular, was associated with the noble and prestigious act of writing.


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Qur’an

Qur’an

Pen Case
with Scenes from the Haft Paykar

Text page of the Khamsa (Quintet) of Amir Khusraw of Delhi


Calligraphy Folios