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Kufic script, 8th or 9th century (Surah 48: 27–28) Qur'an.

Kufic is the oldest calligraphic form of the various Arabic scripts and consists of a modified form of the old Nabataean script. Kufic developed around the end of the 7th century in Kufa, Iraq, from which it takes its name, and other centres.[1]


Kufic script used in a copy of the Qur'an

Kufic was prevalent in manuscripts from the 7th to 10th centuries.[citation needed] Until about the 11th century it was the main script used to copy the Qur'an.[1] Professional copyists employed a particular form of kufic for reproducing the earliest surviving copies of the Qur'an, which were written on parchment and date from the 8th to 10th centuries.[2]

Ornamental use[edit]

Kufic is commonly seen on Seljuk coins and monuments and on early Ottoman coins, its decorative character led to its use as a decorative element in several public and domestic buildings constructed prior to the Republican period in Turkey.

The current flag of Iraq (2008) includes a kufic rendition of the takbir. Similarly, the flag of Iran (1980) has the takbir written in white square kufic script a total of 22 times on the fringe of both the green and red bands.

Square or geometric Kufic is a very simplified rectangular style of Kufic widely used for tiling; in Iran sometimes entire buildings are covered with tiles spelling sacred names like those of God, Muhammad and Ali in square Kufic, a technique known as banna'i.[3]

"Pseudo-Kufic", also "Kufesque",[citation needed] refers to imitations of the Kufic script, made in a non-Arabic context, during the Middle Ages or the Renaissance: "Imitations of Arabic in European art are often described as pseudo-Kufic, borrowing the term for an Arabic script that emphasizes straight and angular strokes, and is most commonly used in Islamic architectural decoration".[4]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Arabic scripts". British Museum. Retrieved 13 March 2013. 
  2. ^ "The Spirit of Islam: Experiencing Islam through Calligraphy". UBC Museum of Anthropology. Archived from the original on 8 November 2002. Retrieved 13 March 2013. 
  3. ^ Jonathan M. Bloom; Sheila Blair (2009). The Grove encyclopedia of Islamic art and architecture. Oxford University Press. pp. 101, 131, 246. ISBN 978-0-19-530991-1. Retrieved 4 January 2012. 
  4. ^ Mack, p.51


  • Mack, Rosamond E. Bazaar to Piazza: Islamic Trade and Italian Art, 1300–1600, University of California Press, 2001 ISBN 0-520-22131-1
  • Wolfgang Kosack: Islamische Schriftkunst des Kufischen. Geometrisches Kufi in 593 Schriftbeispielen. Deutsch – Kufi – Arabisch. Christoph Brunner, Basel 2014, ISBN 978-3-906206-10-3.

External links[edit]