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Thursday, June 20, 2019

ISLAMIC ART: PAST, PRESENT AND FUTURE


Most art isn’t an originator of thoughts or ideas in itself. Though it often inspires us to think about an idea or issue, it often draws inspiration from the life and world itself. Art, after all, doesn’t exist or thrive in isolation. Its strokes and contours take cues from philosophies, histories, and human experiences – the latter being its biggest source. Human experiences, and humanity itself, is most affected by religion and spirituality. When art takes inspiration from religion and spirituality, it’s called spiritual or religion-inspired art. Within this sphere, Islamic calligraphy art has no parallel. 


Islam’s prohibition on human and animal imagery meant that artists had to explore unique ways to express their beliefs and convictions. In Muslim countries, therefore, artists began expressing their belief, culture and tradition with the help of Arabic calligraphy. They inscribed verses of the Quran in what is called Islamic wall art – a defining feature of most monuments built by Muslims. Even today, on the Internet, one would find Islamic wall art for sale.

The Arabic script’s natural cursiveness came as a boon to calligraphers– its loops, curves, dashes, dots and diacritical marks can be manoeuvred to create a masterpiece. Letters can be broken and blendedsmoothly with other letters – a quality that’s rarely found in other scripts.

Besides raising the aestheticsof palaces, mosques and forts, Arabic calligraphy has also been used applied on handicrafts like ceramic tiles, ceramic pottery, carpets, rugs, glassware, wooden work and brassware.

Each Muslim-ruledempire came up with its own unique, regional style of Arabic calligraphy. The Kufic style, for instance, is characterised by straight, angular strokes and round characters with tiny counters. It orginatedin Kufa, Iraq. The Diwani style of elaborate and ornate writing developed in Turkey.

Now, one can look up Islamic wall artfor saleacross ecommerce platforms such as Amazon, Etsy, Alibaba and Ebay. Islamic wall art is a popular home décor category in the online market. Individual artists also sell their calligraphic artworks on their Instagram handles. Other social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter also help in expanding their reach. In the past, only the royalty would commission artists to customise calligraphic pieces for them. Now, people routinely ask for customisation. People can sellers to make a work of art with a particular verse, particular calligraphic style, a definite size, and on a particular material.

Islamic wall art is also used to give as gifts on special occasions such as weddings, anniversaries and the birth of a child. It’s a gift that educates, inspires, and one that is special, rare and can be cherished forever. Gifting is one of the new ways in which sellers of Arabic calligraphy art attempt to keep afloat in the cluttered ecommerce market, drawing attention of viewers to their new gifting ideas. Social media, in particular, helps them in promoting the ideas and finding new enthusiasts. Indeed, Islamic wall art for sale seems here to stay.

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