forms which are also readable letters, but of using script to delineate
such forms. Seldom had the flexibility of the Arabic alphabet been so
This practice established itself only relatively late in
Islamic art, when the taboos outlawing religious iconography had lost
some of their power.
[Zoomorphic calligraphy] developed [..] in Ottoman Turkey, India and Qajar Iran [and] was known as early as 1458."
FIGURAL CALLIGRAPHY IN THE MUSLIM WORLD
The images of living
creatures fashioned by Jila Peacock from Persian poetry fall naturally
into a long and distinguished tradition within Islamic art. Unlike many
such traditions of that art, this one is still full of vitality in our
own day, and has shown an impressive capacity to regenerate itself.
Indeed, it could well be argued that the art of beautiful writing – for
that is what “calligraphy” means – has, alone of the major Islamic
visual arts, continued its creative evolution without a break from the
first Islamic century until the present day. In other words, it has
been less subject to failing inspiration or to the dominance of ideas
from outside the Islamic world than have all its sister arts, from
architecture to painting, from pottery to carpets. If any one art can
claim to evoke the essential character of the Islamic world, in
medieval as in modern times, this is it.
Read more of Peacay's Zoomorphic Calligraphy Article