The Provenance and Origins of Arabic Calligraphy as an Islamic Art
Arabic calligraphy constitutes one of the most prominent and inveterate areas of Islamic art. The study aims to find out the provenance of Arabic Calligraphy and answer the question about what is the origin of Arabic calligraphy? In truth, answering this question is not easy, predominantly because there have been so many diverging opinions. Given its deep and ancient roots, question of its origin is critical. This study attempts to answer this question by examining four major theories regarding the origin of Arabic writing and calligraphy: the theory of restriction and inspiration, the Persian theory, the Musnad theory, and the Nabataean theory. These four theories are reviewed, compared, and analyzed. The results of the study confirm that the origin of Arabic calligraphy derives to a large extent from Nabataean calligraphy and to a much lesser extent from Musnad calligraphy. An additional influence on the appearance and morphology of Arabic calligraphy is Persian Pahlavi calligraphy. The most recent archeological discovery made in Saudi Arabia was an archeological inscription found in a deserted area of Wadi Tharouq, in Daws in Al-Mandaq Province supports this trend. The Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage announced that this stone inscription dates back to the seventh century AD. It is a passage from the Quran. Analysis reveals the similarity between the script of this inscription and Nabatean calligraphy in terms of the composition of the words and the character forms.
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