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Drawing of an inscription of Basmala in Kufic script, 9th century. The original is in the Islamic Museum in Cairo (Inventar-Nr. 7853)

Kufic is the oldest calligraphic form of the various Arabic scripts and consists of a modified form of the old Nabataean script. Its name is derived from the city of Kufa, Iraq, although it was known in Mesopotamia at least 100 years before the foundation of Kufa. At the time of the emergence of Islam, this type of script was already in use in various parts of the Arabian Peninsula. It was in this script that the first copies of the Qur'an were written.



Kufic is a form of script consisting of straight lines and angles, often with elongated verticals and horizontals. It originally did not have consonant pointing distinguishing, for example, b, t, and th. It is still employed in Islamic countries though it has undergone a number of alterations over the years and also displays regional differences. The difference between the Kufic script used in the Arabian Peninsula and that employed in North African states is very marked.


Kufic was prevalent in manuscripts from the 8th-10th centuries.

Kufic is commonly seen on Seljuk coins and monuments and on early Ottoman coins. Its decorative character led to its use as a decorative element in several public and domestic buildings constructed prior to the Republican period in Turkey.

The current Flag of Iraq uses Kufic script to write اﷲ أكبر Allahu Akbar.

Western imitations

"Pseudo-Kufic", also "Kufesque", refers to imitations of the Kufic script, made in a non-Arabic context, during the Middle-Ages or the Renaissance: "Imitations of Arabic in European art are often described as pseudo-Kufic, borrowing the term for an Arabic script that emphasizes straight and angular strokes, and is most commonly used in Islamic architectural decoration".[1]


See also

Globe of letters.svg Languages portal


  1. ^ Mack, p.51


  • Mack, Rosamond E. Bazaar to Piazza: Islamic Trade and Italian Art, 1300–1600, University of California Press, 2001 ISBN 0520221311

External links

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Kufic — Ku fic, a. See {Cufic}. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Kufic — [ko͞o′fik, kyo͞o′fik] adj. [after Kufa (Ar al Kūfa), town on the Euphrates, south of Babylon + IC] designating or of a form of the Arabic alphabet having mostly angular letters …   English World dictionary

  • Kufic — Cufic Cu fic (k? f?k), a. [So called from the town of Cufa, in the province of Bagdad.] Of or pertaining to the older characters of the Arabic language. [Written also {Kufic}.] [1913 Webster] || …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Kufic — /kooh fik/, adj. 1. of or pertaining to Kufa or its inhabitants. 2. noting or pertaining to the characters of the Arabic alphabet used in the writing of the original Koran, in the time of Muhammad. n. 3. the Kufic alphabet. Also, Cufic. [1785 95; …   Universalium

  • Kufic — [ kju:fɪk] (also Cufic) noun an early angular form of the Arabic alphabet found chiefly in decorative inscriptions. adjective of or in Kufic. Origin C18: from the name Kufa, a city south of Baghdad, Iraq (because it was attributed to the city s… …   English new terms dictionary

  • Kufic — adjective Describing an angular form of Arabic script …   Wiktionary

  • kufic — ku·fic …   English syllables

  • Kufic — /ˈkufɪk/ (say koohfik), /ˈkju / (say kyooh ) adjective 1. of or relating to an early form of the Arabic alphabet, used in making copies of the Koran. –noun 2. the script that the letters of this alphabet form. Also, Cufic …   Australian English dictionary

  • kufic — n. & adj. (also Cufic) n. an early angular form of the Arabic alphabet found chiefly in decorative inscriptions. adj. of or in this type of script. Etymology: Cufa, a city S. of Baghdad in Iraq …   Useful english dictionary

  • Kūfic script — ▪ calligraphy       in calligraphy, earliest extant Islāmic style of handwritten alphabet that was used by early Muslims to record the Qurʾān. This angular, slow moving, dignified script was also used on tombstones and coins as well as for… …   Universalium

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