#MetKids—Why Is Writing So Important in Islamic Art?


♪ (Ethnic music) ♪ Why is it writing so important
in Islamic art? (Luke) When I am
into the Islamic Art galleries, everywhere I look
there’s some sort of writing. It’s on papers, it’s on folios,
it’s on vases, and bowls. It’s everywhere. I’d like to know why that is. I’m Luke, and I’m twelve years old. I am Maryam Ekhtiar.
I’m associate curator of Islamic Art. Writing is very important
in Islamic art and culture. And it’s not just that it’s writing, it’s the art of writing
really beautifully. So the Qur’an is considered
to be the word of God. So, naturally, the art of calligraphy
— which is the art of writing — is the highest form, because it’s associated
with this divine message. What do you think about
your own handwriting? It’s not the sloppiest,
but it’s not the greatest. I usually like to write in print
a lot more than script, because I like keeping it simple. So what are we looking at here? (Maryam) This is an insignia
of an Ottoman sultan, like the ruler of a very vast empire. He was like a king. His name was Sultan Süleiman
The Magnificent. Each sultan had his own,
and these are called tughra. Is it just the sultan’s name,
or are there hidden things in there? It’s the sultan’s name,
as well as his father’s name, and the words “eternally victorious.” (Luke) It draws your attention and makes you think,
“Wow, this is really cool.” What kind of tughra would you like? I’d need to think about that. (Luke) So what are we looking at here? (Maryam) It’s a complete Qur’an
that is opened and is sitting on a Qur’an stand. (Luke) Why is the Qur’an
open to this page? (Maryam) Well, we pick the page. Sometimes we pick them because of the beauty of the calligraphy
or the decoration around it. We have to change the page
every three months because it’s a work on paper. And works on paper
have to be rotated every three months so they are not overexposed to light,
which damages them. (Luke) Thanks for telling me
all these wonderful things about Islamic Art. I can see that this is a lot more complex
than it looks like. This is Luke signing off
from The Metropolitan Museum of Art. What’s your #metkids question? ♪ (ethnic music) ♪

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