The Rise of Islamic Calligraphy

The Rise of Islamic Calligraphy


9780863566738 May 2010 Hardback 242pp 90 colour and 82 black & white illustrations

About the Book

The birth of Qur’anic calligraphy was a major event in the early history of Islam. In a few decades, it raised the Arabs and their language from the remote fringes of the civilised world to its very heart.

Alain George brings together manuscript, material culture and texts to reveal the evolution of Arabic calligraphy from its pre-Islamic conception through the emergence of the modern styles of writing still in use today.

The Rise of Islamic Calligraphy explores the resonance of the Ancient notion of proportion in Arabic script and breaks new ground in our understanding of a crucially important body of material: the earliest manuscripts of the Qur’an.

Alain George highlights the historical context of early Arabic calligraphy and its relationship to the emerging civilisation of Islam, showing how a craft based on pen, parchment and ink came to convey the divine character of the Qur’anic text.

Beautifully illustrated, this is an essential reference work for students and connoisseurs of calligraphy alike.

About the Author

Alain George is Lecturer in Islamic Art at the University of Edinburgh. His primary field of research is the art and architecture of the early Islamic era, with a focus on calligraphy, Umayyad religious art and the arts of the book.


‘Charting the rise and demise of the angular scripts used in the first centuries of Islam, this is an exciting new contribution to the fields of early Islamic Studies and Art History.’
Sheila Blair, author of Islamic Calligraphy

'An unerring sense of the bigger picture complements his mastery of detail and of earlier scholarship. This promises to be a classic.’
Robert Hillenbrand, author of Islamic Art and Architecture

‘Alain George’s publication marks a new beginning. George makes a point of presenting his material in the wider cultural and historical context of its time. He thereby succeeds in producing a coherent and well-argued account of the developmental phases of Qur’anic calligraphy, from its beginnings up to the eleventh century CE … A beautifully designed volume, which is to be welcomed by specialists and generalists alike.’
Journal of Qur’anic Studies

The Rise of Islamic Calligraphy provides a brilliant and magnificently illustrated synthesis of the first four centuries of an art so important in Islamic civilization … A masterful contribution. It is to be hoped that this pioneering work will be followed by other studies based on a sound methodological approach and contributing to a better understanding of the mushaf during the first centuries of Islam.’
Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies