Writing the Word of God


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Calligraphy and the Qur'an

David J. Roxburgh


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The art of Islamic calligraphy developed from the 7th to the 14th century, beginning in western Arabia, spreading south to Yemen and north to the Near East, and continuing east and west to Iran, Egypt, North Africa, and Spain. This handsome book demonstrates the breadth and beauty of Islamic calligraphy across centuries and continents, as seen in rare early folios of the Qur’an.


Noted scholar David J. Roxburgh begins by discussing the Qur’an, which Muslims believe to be the written record of a series of divinely inspired revelations to the Prophet Muhammad. He then analyzes Kufic script, the preeminent vehicle for writing early manuscripts of the Qur’an; reforms of calligraphy in the 10th century; and the great master Islamic calligraphers, in particular Yaqut al-Musta‘simi. The beautiful reproductions of folios and bifolios validate Roxburgh’s conclusion that “the miracle of the text of the Qur’an found its equal in the technical mastery of the calligrapher’s practice, a miracle in its own right.” 

Distributed for The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

Exhibition Schedule:

Asia Society Museum (October 6, 2008 – February 1, 2009)

David J. Roxburgh is the Prince Alwaleed bin Talal Professor of Islamic Art History in the Department of Art and Architecture at Harvard University.


Asia Society Museum (October 6, 2008 – February 1, 2009)

"David Roxburgh's Writing the Word of God: Calligraphy and the Qur'an offers a useful, manageable introduction to the general subject of visual manifestations of the Muslim sacred text.  The . . . volume is especially good for its historical overview of the evolution of Arabic calligraphic styles." —J. Renard, Religion and the Arts
ISBN: 9780300142006
Publication Date: October 6, 2008
Publishing Partner: Distributed for The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston
64 pages, 8 1/2 x 11
31 color illus.
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