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Few paragraphs from a book entitled: Stone-Inscriptions with Kufic Script The Global Cultural Heritage Including 207 high quality images from different ancient objects Authors: Mousavi Jazayeri SMV, Mousavi Jazayeri SMH, Christian LM Date of publication: Summer 2012 Number of pages:

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Few paragraphs from a book entitled:

Stone-Inscriptions with Kufic Script

The Global Cultural Heritage

Including 207 high quality images from different ancient objects

Authors:

Mousavi Jazayeri SMV,

Mousavi Jazayeri SMH, Christian LM

Date of publication: Summer 2012

Number of pages:

145 pages in English + 107 pages in Farsi

  • Email of authors: kuficpedia@gmail.com
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به گزارش خبرگزاری کتاب ایران (ایبنا)، جلسه نقد و بررسی کتاب «سنگ نوشته‌های کوفی، میراث فرهنگ جهانی» اول شهریور با حضور بهرام کلهرنیا، پاتریک رینگن‌برگ، حمیدرضا قلیچ‌خانی و سید محمدوحید موسوی جزایری، نویسنده کتاب، در سرای اهل قلم برگزار شد. 

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In November 2010, we had reached the mid-point of our preparation for this book and were fortunate enough to visit an ancient place which is thought to have been built and designed more than 600 years ago.

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دکتر پاتریک رینگن‌برگ، استاد دانشگاه لوزان سوییس و محقق در زمینه هنرهای اسلامی درباره کتاب گفت: «سنگ نوشته‌های کوفی، میراث فرهنگ جهانی» کتاب قابل توجهی است که به زمینه‌های کمتر شناخته شده‌ای در هنر اسلامی پرداخته است. 

  • وی افزود: از نگاه تصویرشناسی این کتاب بسیار غنی است و من فکر می‌کنم این بسیار مهم است که ما این آثار را به عنوان آرشیو نگاه داریم، چرا که متاسفانه عموم آثار فرهنگی و هنری باقیمانده از اعصار قبل، اکنون در ایران در حال از بین رفتن است و معلوم نیست چرا کسی از این نابودی جلوگیری نمی‌کند. 
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The site itself was said to have been destroyed by the “keeper committee”, in a place called Zewareh, which is located in Iran. The legend of the ancient sites at Zewareh reports that the destruction actually took place before the very eyes of the town people. And, even now as I look back in reflection, it seems a shame that such a glorious place was destroyed, so easily!

Here is a question: if the people understood and valued the merits of an ancient place, would they still cause and carry out the same destruction?

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Calligraphic objects

  • One of the major problems for contemporary researchers of calligraphy has been noted during their attempts to catalogue objects that belong to a specific (or particular) collection of works. In fact, the different categorization labels that have been given to items known as “calligraphic objects” have made it even more difficult to interpret what were at their time of creation were complicated methods of writing communication.

Above image: Stone-seal with kufic inscription

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…Calligraphic objects

Typically, calligraphic objects are separated on the basis of their physical and material appearances, but it is fair to say that this method of cataloging has in the past been at fault for causing some of the most serious research errors and issues of this nature have been addressed in other books in this series. For instance, calligraphic objects such as, manuscripts, the inscriptions on the stonework or potteries and coins were produced using materials such as stones, metals or wood. It has already been noted that calligraphic objects varied with regard to their styles, methods and decorative finishes, but it is also worth noting that the industries providing calligraphic inscriptions of this kind would also have used their preferred materials, artisans and design formats [and this would have made their method of calligraphy different to any others, irrespective of whether they conformed to their traditional writing conventions].

Above image: Coin with kufic inscription

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…Calligraphic objects

From the collections of calligraphic works that are currently available for viewing, it is clear that the ancient calligraphic objects were developed using creative methods and they also described some very clear visual differences that perhaps conveyed regional and provincial writing formats. There is no doubt however, that some of these distinguishing characteristics concern the types of materials that were being used and it can therefore be assumed that some styles and performing methods may be appropriate to specific material. However, the controversy and debate amongst researchers in this field emerges again, as some objects with calligraphy writing show that they had a direct relationship with the technical capacities of the calligraphic object.

Above image: The word Mohammad was repeated 5 times in kufic inscription

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…Calligraphic objects

One needs only to look closely at the calligraphic inscriptions on parchments, tiles and woods (in one of the calligraphy styles, such as Kufic or Naskh) to notice that objects created during these eras were also designed to convey additional messages. It is speculated that these ‘messages’ within the inscriptions were guided perhaps by the actual period of time in which they were created, or even the circumstances that they were aiming to address. The study and use of calligraphy is [in our opinion] able to fascinate those wishing to research its performing techniques and can also inform those who are interested in assessing and documented the changes in writing communication that occurred throughout history (providing some additional clues as to why those changes were made).

Above image: Brass-made globe with kufic inscription

Date: 1140 A.D.

National Museum of Iran

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Kufic stone-inscriptions are among the most merited heritage of human beings. They can be found in North Africa and all around India and China.

Many Kufic stone-inscriptions speak out about history, language, religion and many other social aspects that influenced the different countries and territories over the centuries.

Stone-inscriptions have also manifested themselves in the development of calligraphy, architecture, carving and other arts that were crafted during specific periods of history.

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Image: Historical kufic inscription on stone

The details that were included in works by the Kufic calligraphers and designers can in some respect be considered to be a “renaissance in art of writing”.

However, it is probably fair to remember that much of what was outlined within the work is still hidden or ‘unrevealed’. An even greater misfortune is the fact that presently there is still not enough research interest in this particular area of science. Perhaps this lack of interest can be summed up by academic anxiety, which may have resulted simply from the difficulty that exists when trying to interpret these ancient texts, script and writings.

Understanding the technical and cultural elements of that period in history is hard enough, and nowadays, there are few who are able to correctly translate Kufic script [which was of course in those days, more widely used].

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Part of a Decorative Kufic inscription on chalk.

Date: 445 Hegira (about 1053 A.D.). Jame (Great) mosque, Shoushtar, Iran.

Kufic text:من بین ایدیهم سدا

current methods of calligraphic research
Current methods of calligraphic research

Most published books containing research on calligraphy, aim to distinguish the different methods of just one calligraphic style (such as Eastern Kufic vs. Western Kufic). Incidentally, these methods were by nature related in terms of their physical written appearance and visual elements. Moreover, the results of previous studies within this field indicate that there are in fact many issues regarding how and when the creation of new methods of calligraphy emerged. For instance, the results of the studies suggest that the newer styles of calligraphy and their role with regard to their methods were not found to be analyzed in a comprehensive and replicable manner. Such findings therefore raise question as to whether the newer styles of calligraphy are synonymous with the earlier Kufic methods.

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… current methods of calligraphic research

Unfortunately, most of the main research sources for journals and text books on ancient calligraphy have tended to report only the information that was available from either manuscripts or documents outlining the existing methods of the different styles [in a simplistic way that refers to the date of manuscript, the name of its method, style and its place or origin of writing]. Furthermore, it can also be suggested that this type of data information is to some extent based on undocumented theories and hypotheses [thus highlighting a degree of controversy as to whether the current evidence available is correct].

Image: Historical kufic inscription on a pottery

current methods of calligraphic research1
… current methods of calligraphic research

Despite this obvious need for further research investigating the methods, uses and value of these ancient “scripts”, there are presently very few reputable reports which either highlight or address scientific studies on calligraphy that provide fundamental evidence with regard to how these styles vary and agree with one another.

the value of the kufic style of calligraphy
The value of the Kufic style of calligraphy

Prior studies on the various methods of Kufic style of calligraphy [such as Primary, Western and Eastern methods of Kufic] appeared on various types of materials. These materials include artifacts such as manuscripts, buildings, potteries and coins, and they are of greater importance to future research for understanding calligraphic methods in comparison to the other styles created after the Kufic-era [such as Naskh and Thulth styles of calligraphy].

Above image: kufic inscription on ancient bricks

the value of the kufic style of calligraphy1
… The value of the Kufic style of calligraphy

Many researchers believe that it is of fundamental importance to study the Kufic style of calligraphy, not only because of its varied methods of writing, but also because its style renders the scope for use in “varied applications” which are both feasible and practical for a number of situations that are experienced during everyday life.

The Kufic style of calligraphy was over time developed both in quality and quantity. Even today, many respected and published researchers agree that this particular style of calligraphy is unprecedented.

Above image: kufic inscription on an ancient coin

the value of the kufic style of calligraphy2
…The value of the Kufic style of calligraphy

Kufic calligraphy is by large most famous for its different technical capacities and variations. The style has been widely used throughout time and has proven repeatedly to have the application ability to meet the needs of a broader range of collection conditions in comparison to the later styles. Generally, collections of objects and pieces using the Kufic style [such as manuscripts, coins, potteries and buildings] were usually accompanied by exclusive and amazing “writing tendencies”.

Above image: kufic inscription on a manuscript

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…The value of the Kufic style of calligraphy

These techniques were used in conjunction with other creative crafts by artisans like blacksmiths, architects, potters or papermakers for forming and decorating a range of objects [such as manuscripts, golden and silver coins, or potteries and buildings]. This inter-fusion of crafts was considered by artists and elite members of society at the time when they were crafted with acute interest, and even now a Kufic collection or object inspires a similar effect.

It is therefore fair to note that even though the historical conditions accompanying the other more modern styles of calligraphy had the potential to provide a greater degree of visual capacity in comparison to the “varied methods of Kufic style of calligraphy”. The Kufic style could and did create a renaissance in the history of calligraphic writing amongst a wide and varied range of societies.

Image: Historical kufic inscription on a pottery

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Kufic inscription on brick.

  • ChehelDokhtar (40 girls) Tower, Damghan, Iran.
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Writing of Miss FatemehDaneshYazdi, author of the book entitled “Islamic Inscriptions of Yazd” about current book

All of the manuscripts, stone-inscriptions, coins, metal plates, potteries, clothes, carpets and other historical objects not only have aesthetic values, but also manifest the culture and civilization of the corresponding nation and country.

Inscriptions were written by ancient artists on different objects such as, stones, coins, metals and plates to leave behind historical documents about religious believes, social movements and many other subjects.

Unfortunately, many of the historical reports that were written by the rulers and kings of the time tended usually to have many political intentions attached. Often the works show inaccurate reports and modifications of the real stories and events.

The ancient narrators of history reported events like wars, famines and changes in law. But, over course of history there were so many victories and defeats, it is difficult to systematically fit all events together in their correct place. So, most of the works left behind by the historical narrators are subject to their own social and religious changes. Documents like the historical inscriptions and ancient coins release the identity of the ancient societies and solve many of the questions investigated by the contemporary researchers.

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….writing of Miss FatemehDaneshYazdi, author of the book entitled “Islamic Inscriptions of Yazd”

Inscriptions that were either written on portable cultural chattels (such as coins and potteries) or non-portable cultural chattels (such as historical buildings) complete our knowledge by removing our historical doubts in a scientific manner.

The art of ancient and contemporary calligraphy show a strong and inseparable conjunction with the cultural changes of countries and nations. This glorious art has an especially important role in highlighting the efflorescence of the different kinds of art that have been done by different civilizations, particularly in countries located in the Central and Western areas of Asia and North of Africa.

SeyedMohamadVahid Mousavi Jazayeri is a master of the calligraphy techniques, who is a capable astute researcher. His love and interest in the art has promoted and encouraged many other researchers and people who are interested in this very specialist art form. In this series of books you can see the results of his continuous years of researchers, which were completed by him and his faithful research team. The contents of this book extend upon his former artistic pieces [his calligraphic manuscripts and potteries] and earlier publications. I hope the readers enjoy the books as much as I do, as they provide inspiration for further thought.

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Mihrab-stone with Decorative Kufic inscription.

  • Date: 11th century A.D.
  • Meymeh, Isfahan, Iran.
  • Dimensions: 85 × 140 cm.
  • National Museum of Iran. Reg No.: 3286.
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- Part of a gravestone with Decorative Kufic and decorations on its background.

- Date: 14th century A.D.

- Place: Bordaj, Shiraz, Iran.

- Dimensions: 39 × 50 cm.

- Hafttanan Museum, Shiraz, Iran. Reg No.: 155.

- Text:

کل نفس ذائقه المو [ ت ]

- English Translation:

Every being shall taste the Cup of Death,

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Stone-inscriptions with Thulth script of Istanbul, Turkey: A comparison between Thulth script with Kufic and Naskh styles of calligraphy over history. 2011.

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Script and calligraphy: 1st volume: Kufic script. 2nd volume: Naskh and Thulth styles of calligraphy. 3rd volume: Typography. 2010.

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Kufic Encyclopedia: 1st volume: How to write the Primary method of Kufic style of calligraphy. 2005.

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Treasury of coins: the mirror of History and Art (an album about coins of Heidarzadeh’s museum), 2011,

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Email of authors:

kuficpedia@gmail.com