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Islam An Expressive Style

Qur'an. 9th century. NYPL, Manuscripts and Archives Division.

The calligrapher of this handsome manuscript used the selective elongation of letters and words to create regular vertical margins. In the process, however, words were divided between lines and even pages. For example, this passage describes the drowning of the Egyptian subjects of the Pharaoh, but the first word on the page omits the first letters of his title, which appears as "[Ph]araoh." Some of the scribe’s exaggerations also enhance the text’s meaning. In this script the letters "k" and "z" have an extended horizontal shape so that each word in the phrase "all were evildoers" is visibly elongated.

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