The Exhibition

McGill Islamic Studies Library displayed an Islamic Calligraphy Exhibition from November 1st, 2010 to March 31st 2011.

The exhibition included sixteen items representing various styles of Arabic calligraphy. From dry black and white calligraphy of the 10th century to colorful illuminated pieces of the 19th century, it recounted a brief history of Arabic/Islamic calligraphy.. The collections are from McGill University’s Rare Books and Special Collections (RBSC) and the Islamic Studies Library (ISL) holdings located in RBSC.

The most outstanding piece exhibited is a Qur’anic parchment written in Kūfī/Early Abbassid script from the 10th or11th century. It is one of the very few early Abbasid/Kūfī items held by McGill Libraries. The remaining objects, vary from calligraphy panels, leaves, a single karalama (a specimen for testing the nib of a calamus) to richly illuminated calligraphy albums. The Islamic Studies Library is now pleased to make this Islamic calligraphy exhibition now available online.

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  • Photo credit: Klaus Fiedler

Special Thanks

Exhibition curated by Anaïs Salamon, Head Librarian, Islamic Studies Library, McGill University and
Sean Swanick, Liaison Librarian, Islamic Studies Library, McGill University
Description of items based on Adam Gacek's Arabic manuscripts : a vademecum for readers.

Special thanks to Dr. Richard Virr (Head of Rare Books and Special Collections and curator of manuscripts, McGill University) for lending the items and to Donald Hogan (Conservation specialist) for his help with the set up of the exhibition.
We would also like to thank the following library staff for their graciousness. In particular, Ed Bilodeau, Megan Chellew, Greg Houston, and Elizabeth Thomson.