Aniconic Design

Manuscripts of the Qur’an were produced with great reverence, using the finest materials available and developing fine styles and techniques to ornament the manuscript that reflect the beauty of the Divine Book. You will not find figural representations in Qur’an manuscripts - it is rare even in other religious manuscripts.

Ornamentation of the Qur’an used ‘aniconic’, abstract designs. Qur’an manuscripts used and developed non-figural types of decoration that would characterise not only Qur’an manuscripts, but would also have wider applications in manuscript culture and Islamic art.

The three types of non-figural decoration used in Qur’an manuscripts, and Islamic art in general, are

  1. calligraphy,
  2. geometric designs, and
  3. vegetal patterns or motifs.

We will begin by looking at calligraphy in this section.

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This article is from the free online course:

The Birmingham Qur'an: Its Journey from the Islamic Heartlands

University of Birmingham