September 7, 2010


Beautiful words: Islamic calligraphy at the Carlos

Remember mastering the painstaking loops and curves of cursive writing in elementary school? Technology is turning handwriting into a lost art, but its quiet beauty is powerfully showcased in two exhibitions of Islamic calligraphy at the Carlos Museum.  

Gordon Newby, professor of Middle Eastern and South Asian studies, introduced guests to the exhibitions, “Traces of the Calligrapher: Islamic Calligraphy in Practice, c. 1600–1900” and “Writing the Word of God: Calligraphy and the Qur’an” at a press preview on Aug. 26.  

Newby described how calligraphers from as early as the 7th century used the exquisite pens, knives, inks and parchment displayed to create writings that were both instructive and artistic.  

“Calligraphy was a high art profession, and calligraphers are highly prized in the Islamic tradition,” Newby says. “There is a devotional quality to these writings as well as an aesthetic quality.”  

The Islamic calligraphy exhibitions are on view through Dec. 5. For more information, visit  

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