Writing the Word of God: Calligraphy and the Qur’an

Writing the Word of God: Calligraphy and the Qur’an, a companion exhibition to Traces of the Calligrapher: Islamic Calligraphy in Practice, showcases a superb selection of folios from copies of the Qur’an, the preeminent context for the practice of calligraphy in the Islamic world. These folios present calligraphy produced in the region between North Africa and Iran from the 9th to 16th centuries. Visitors to this exhibition are able to follow the development of dominant Arabic scripts, and to learn how the letters are shaped and how each letter acquired the particular sounds attached to it.

The Qur’an states that “the first thing created by God was the pen,” with which he wrote creation, and so the practice of calligraphy constituted an expression of piety. But calligraphy was also a trace of its maker, a permanently impressed mark of his or her character. As artists acquired skill in beautiful writing, they would inevitably reveal their ideas and moral fiber as well, recording these aspects of themselves for posterity. Moreover, proficiency in calligraphy was a hallmark of high culture and was thus not simply the preserve of professional scribes who staffed imperial bureaucracies of Muslim dynasties or prepared books for major cultural institutions such as mosques and theological colleges. All cultured people were expected to have good writing.

This exhibition is organized by the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, and Harvard University Art Museums.
Generous support is provided by:

Cathy and Vahid Kooros
Oxus Energy, LLC
The Hagop Kevorkian Fund
The Kooros Family: Lily, Hamid, Shirin, and Ali
Mr. and Mrs. Ali Ebrahimi
Douglas Jaffe, III ~ Horseshoe Bay Resort
Mr. and Mrs. Pat R. Rutherford, Jr.
Mr. Kay-Ghobad “Kiddie” Zafar
Mr. Mike Hoomani
The Seaver Institute
Fariba and Rainer Buchecker
Standard Oilfield Services - Baku