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Egypt: Art of Arabic Calligraphy in Egypt


Art of Arabic Calligraphy


Arabic calligraphy is a genuine Islamic and Arabic art. It is, no doubt, the most important element of the Arabic legacy, as it is the pot wherein all Arab cultures, over succeeding generations, are merging to come up with such eternal heritage.

Its forms, however, differ, as Arabic calligraphy has surpassed the end of writing process itself to reach eternity in terms of design and styles; further becoming one of the outstanding features of Islamic arts, constituting the common denominator for all Arab and Islamic arts, either they were taking shapes of fixed buildings or mobile antiques. It was, also, used in photographing and mosques decorating, as there is not one Arab monument void of Arabic calligraphy art tang.

Difference between art & writing

There emerged a difference between the process of writing itself and the art of writing, as the first is the way of conveying ideas and the second is the medium for feelings, emotions and sentiments. The art of Arabic calligraphy, anyway, was developed over ages to become spiritual engineering by means of a writing tool. History & origin.

Calligraphy, as a matter of fact, was and will remain playing fundamental role in the history of mankind, as it is a key tool of establishing communication among peoples; conveying and preserving human heritage along with its experiences over times and maintaining civilizations from generation to another.

The need for writing and codifying has emerged with the dawn of the history, as such was phased in through five stages:

1 - Picture writing stage; or expressing ideas through pictures.
2 - Symbolic stage; or expressing sense via symbolic pictures.
3 - Syllabic stage in which the picture implied sound.
4 - Phonetic stage that used pictures of things composed of the first Alphabet of a picture's indication and letter.
5 - Alphabetical stage which had new marks similar to vertical and horizontal screws.

Chinese, Hittities and Hieroglyphic are the oldest calligraphies on Earth which, up till now are still a mystery.

Arabic calligraphy evolving

Theories that fathom the evolving of Arabic calligraphy are too many. Yet, the origin of Arabic calligraphy and its history are still not definite. Researchers, however, have realized that the Arabs, in old times, were not knowledgeable of calligraphy until they interacted with urbanities who considered calligraphy of social necessity. This happened as Arabs resided the remote areas surrounding the Arab Peninsula. When the Roman Empire got weaker Arabs' position improved, as they settled in the south of Hegaz (Saudi Arabia) and Aqaba Gulf. They had geographical and political entity, the most important among that was a kingdom known as AlNabat in Jordan.

Arabs, then, derived one of Aramic calligraphies using it but keeping their own Arabic language. So, it became clear that Arabic calligraphy has undergone three phases: First, Aramic calligraphy which tends to squaring. Second, Napty calligraphy, and then came the stage of maturity with the presence of Arabic letters which tend to take circular shapes.

Arabic calligraphy developing did not stop at this limit, but it was further enhanced. At the very outset, letters had no dots but during Abbasside era, dots and punctuation marks were developed, as Arabic calligraphy was spread when Islam prevailed simply because it became the main instrument of the Islamic religion. Learning Arabic be, came quite related to religious aspect, the matter which finally led to its speedy outspread as a language.

Arabic calligraphy converted to decoration, as Arab kings and rulers favored writers who gained wide reputation and vast fame. Let alone, they, also, were poured by money to encourage them.

Accordingly, Arabic calligraphy became the common grounds for developing both Arabic and Islamic arts. Arabs have mastered making ink of natural substances, as they used seeds of yam and glue. The black color was preferred but there were other colors: red, blue, green, brown, purple and ruby. Sometimes, fragrances were to be added to give ink good smell.

Art of calligraphy and its development

As Muslim Arab artists, at the outset, declined to sculpture and pencil live pictures, taking the trend of developing pottery art with oriented decoration tange, Arabic calligraphy has for this reason improved to a great measure. Arab artists had to unleash their artistic and creative potentials through different means, using Arabic calligraphy as a rich and easy way to create new aspects of art.

Arabic calligraphy reached its peak in the Abbasside preferred but there were other colors: red, blue, green, brown, purple and ruby. Sometimes, fragrances were to be added to give ink good smell.

Calligraphy substances took the form of boards, stones, pottery and leather, but at the very end of the Omiade State 133 AH and at the outset of Abbasside State, great revolution was made in calligraphy material when Arabs discovered the way of making papers in Samarkand, Central Asia, as paper making which had been secret was circulated to reach Baghadad and then Damascus, prevailing all Arab States and spreading to Europe as well.

AlFostat, the first Islamic and Egyptian capital city, was famous as one calligraphy improving center. Ibn Tollon Mosque harbors unique models of terrific masterpieces, among which the simple Cofi calligraphy.

Baghdad getting weak following the Tatar invasion, Arabic calligraphy was completely conveyed to Egypt. The Fatimid State's people inclined to luxury, decoration and beautification. Also the outstanding writers, in such age, were of Egypt.

They, further, mastered the Fatimid Cofi calligraphy, and the Egyptian school was the most celebrated among other schools of calligraphy as it overdid its opposite numbers in developing that art. Schools of calligraphy in Egypt remained abounding in vast experiences until the era, and outspread in north Africa, due to the Arab advent to Egypt in 641 AD when Egypt nursed that kind of art and fostered it, till the calligraphy of Hegaz was converted and oriented to Arabic calligraphy.

Artists of Syria moved to Egypt and with them the secrets of mastering Cofi calligraphy. With the advent of the Ottoman State in 1517 AD, Arabic calligraphy art moved to Istanbul which became its center of improving and developing, as Turkey adopted Latin letters in writing.

Arabic calligraphy has thrived once again in Egypt and Arab countries to revive potentialities of artists who mastered such art and developed it. affected by philosophy and drawing. Drawing man and animal became motifs of Islamic decoration which depended on calligraphy, for this reason this kind of art could be deemed as surface calligraphy.

Since the 8th century, Arabic calligraphy left, in Europe, an impact reflecting decoration element, due to the direct interaction with Islamic civilization, especially in Italy, Spain and France. Kings, at that time, used Arabic calligraphy in their writings and messages.

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