Encyclopedia of Arabic Language and Linguistics

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Script and Art
(4,145 words)

The 28 (or 29, if we include the lām ʾalif) letters of the Arabic alphabet, as we know them today, developed from a primitive set of 17 basic letter shapes (graphemes), which included a number of same-looking forms (homographs; Arabic alphabet: origin). These letter forms at the beginning of Islam had nothing in themselves that would indicate their future grand place in Islamic art. And yet, within perhaps several decades after the birth of Islam, the Arabic script began to take on qualities which later in the Abbasid period blossomed into beautiful handwriting used to adorn the pages of the Q…

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Adam Gacek, “Script and Art”, in: Encyclopedia of Arabic Language and Linguistics, Managing Editors Online Edition: Lutz Edzard, Rudolf de Jong. Consulted online on 30 November 2023 <http://dx.doi.org/10.1163/1570-6699_eall_EALL_SIM_0121>
First published online: 2011
First print edition: ISBN: 9789004177024, 20090831

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