Do you plan to buy Muslim wall art? Are you looking for Islamic wall art so that it can be visual expression of your faith in your home? Or so that you can give it as a gift to a friend or a family member? It would do good to know some basic information about Islamic wall art. Largely, it is wall frames or wall carpets that have the calligraphy of verses from the Quran. It also includes engraving of calligraphy on the walls of mosques and monuments.
Islamic calligraphy is the mainstay of Muslim wall art. Though Arabic was always spoken in the deserts of Arabia long before the establishment of Islam as the primary religion of the region. However, Arabic calligraphy really took off after Muslims took control of the region. As Islam prohibits the drawing of humans or animals, early Muslim rulers employed artists to transcribe the Divine verses which would then be engraved on the walls of mosques and other buildings.
Thus, Arabic calligraphy, often called Islamic calligraphy, became the primary kind of wall art in the Ottoman, Mughal, Safavid and other Muslim-ruled territories. You can see Arabic calligraphy on the Taj Mahal in Agra, India, for example.
The plentifulness of loops, curves, dots, and diacritical symbols in the Arabic script rendered it perfect for calligraphy. The letters can be minimised to a portion of their size and made to blend with other letters smoothly.
With Muslim conquests of different regions of the world, the art of Islamic calligraphy thrived accordingly. Muslim rulers hired calligraphers and artisans for making Islamic calligraphy for monuments and mosques. It was a perhaps in this way the rulers visually expressed their Islamic faith. Calligraphy was also done on ceramic and brass plates, wooden crafts and wall carpets, and was applied for court scrolls too.
Each region witnessed the development of a distinct style of writing Arabic. Kufic style, with its straight and angular strokes, was developed in Kufa, Iraq; Diwani, with its decorativeness and fine detailing, emerged in the Ottoman sultanate; the freestyle Tughra style thrived in the Indian subcontinent.
With the defeat of Muslim empires at the hand of European colonialists, the development of Arabic calligraphy slowed, but recovered after the World War II, when new nations gained independence and were formed.
Of late, there has been a renewal of interest in Arabic calligraphy, maybe due to increasing exposure to different cultures by way of the Internet, travelling, and online markets. From historical monuments, Arabic calligraphy is now seen in modern apartments. People are now buying ‘Muslim wall art’ on Instagram and websites that deal only in Islamic wall art made in different materials – wall decals, canvas and paper prints, and metallic. Many of these pieces are done specially for specific clients on demand.
Now, English translations are also making an appearance in Muslim wall art. Importantly, Arabic isn’t the mother tongue of majority of Muslims worldwide. The introduction of English in Islamic wall art thus has spiritual value, as it aids non-Arab Muslims to reflect on the message on the wall.