Arabic Calligraphy
Civilisation of the Word
‘Inscriptions are usually chosen to complement the function of the object.’
Inscriptions vary in subject and include a wide variety of calligraphic styles. They may refer to patrons and their accomplishments or recite verses from the Qur’an, protective prayers, blessings, poetic verses and proverbs. The latter inscriptions are usually chosen to complement the function of the object, such as the use of the Qur’anic verse ‘God, Light of the World’ (24: 35) on mosque lamps, or the use of poetic verses that praise the work of the pen, seen on pen cases or writing boxes. Protective prayers and invocations of blessings are expected to actively contribute to the function of a vessel. Words such as ‘baraka’ acknowledge and invoke God’s generosity, and the owner’s good luck. The same sentiments are evoked when using one of God’s Ninety-Nine Names on an object, where its presence would protect the object and its contents from harm or loss.
Tomb cover

Hegira 12th / AD 18th century
Victoria and Albert Museum
London, England, United Kingdom
Appropriately, the inscriptions on this tomb covering include the Shahada (profession of the Muslim faith), verses from the Qur'an and a pious invocation.