Evolution of Islamic Wall Art

Are you looking for Islamic art wall décor? Well, we are not surprised as Muslim wall art is an unparalleled tradition wherein the verses of the Quran are written, painted, etched or carved out in calligraphic style on walls of monuments, buildings, and even homes.

The mainstay of Muslim wall art is Arabic calligraphy, which took off after coming of Islam in the Arabian peninsula. Since Islam forbids imagery of humans or animals, the walls of monuments were decorated with verses of the Quran engraved in calligraphy.

Calligraphy, the Greek-origin word for beautiful writing, became the primary form of wall art in Islamic empires, from the Ottoman sultanate in the west to the Mughal dynasty in the east. From the Blue Mosque in Istanbul, Turkey, to the Taj Mahal in Agra, India, well-known Muslim monuments are all decorated with Quranic verses engraved in artistic styles.

It also helped the calligraphers that the Arabic script rendered itself perfectly to the art. The Arabic script has loops, curves, dots, and diacritical marks which can be diligently maneuvered to create a beautiful piece of writing. Letters of the alphabet can be also be broken to less than half their form to enable them to blend smoothly into other letters.

As Muslims conquered different parts of the world, they hired well-trained artists to decorate their monuments and buildings with Islamic calligraphy. The artists would also paint/carve/stich/etch verses on handicrafts, like ceramics, wooden artifacts and carpets. Calligraphers were also employed to pen court scrolls.

Each region developed its own style of Islamic calligraphy. The Kufic font of straight, angular strokes emerged in Kufa, Iraq; the Diwali school of ornate, elaborate and intricate writing took off in Istanbul, Turkey; the Tughra style of figurative writing thrived in Lucknow, a city in northern India.

As Islamic empires were subdued by European colonists, Islamic calligraphy received a setback, but made a recovery when new nations gained independence.

There has been a recent increase in interest in Islamic calligraphy on account of the online revolution, in particular, e-commerce. From monuments of old, Islamic calligraphy now finds itself in modern, minimal spaces. Because of digital technology, e-commerce, and the rising wealth of people, Islamic calligraphy has made a comeback in the form of ‘Muslim wall art’. Now, there are many websites from where one can buy Islamic art wall décor in the form of low-cost vinyl wall decals, premium colorful canvas prints, and stainless steel frames. Young artists and curators now sell their works of art on the Internet and often create bespoke pieces for clients.

Nowadays, English translations are also part of Islamic wall art as for eighty percent of the Muslims in the world, Arabic is not their native language. This inclusion of English in Muslim wall art is a matter of significance. Quite clearly, Islamic art wall décor has seen major changes over the years in terms of the art, the scale, the accessibility and the profile of buyers.