The Spirit of Islam
Unity Diversity Knowledge Historical Summary
Unity Introduction Calligraphy Styles Kufic Style Thuluth Style Naskhi Style Nasta'liq Style
Kufic Ceramic
Kufic Style
The form of script called kufic is thought to have taken its name from the town of Kufah, established in Iraq in 641 C.E. Kufic is a more or less square and angular script characterised by its heavy, bold style. Its letters were generally thick, squat, and unslanted, and it was particularly suitable for writing on stone or metal, for painting or carving inscriptions on the walls of mosques, and for lettering on coins.

Professional copyists employed a particular form of kufic for reproducing the earliest surviving copies of the Qur'an. These were written on parchment and date from the 8th to the 10th century. The writing was frequently large, especially in the early examples; sometimes there were as few as three lines to a single page. Any perceptible stiffness and angularity in this script was beautifully counterbalanced by its majestic and measured pace.

With the passage of time kufic grew more ornamental, its shapes became plaited, knotted, or foliated (leaf-like). It disappeared from general use about the 11th century, although its distinct characteristics encouraged its use as a decorative element.

On this web site kufic script can be found painted on a ceramic bowl and inscribed into the surface of an astrolabe.

Heritage Canada Museum of Anthropology at UBC
Copyright 2002 Museum of Anthropology at UBC