Arabic tile from Leighton House   leighton house museum
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Calligraphy tile panel, date unknown

An arrangement of 48 tiles showing Arabic script

A panel of 48 tiles, comprising calligraphic script, date unknown
Calligraphy tile panel, date unknown
enlarge image

Why Is It Important?

The tiles are believed to have been collected for Leighton by his great friend, the Victorian traveller and diplomat Sir Richard Burton in Sind, Northern Pakistan. Burton was one of a number of key figures who assisted Leighton in amassing various collections of tiles.

There is no documentary evidence to prove this particular panel has its origins in Pakistan.

Leighton was not only re-creating the Middle Eastern interiors he had seen on his travels but also acknowledging that all the arts had a part to play in creating something beautiful.

The central role of an art form such as calligraphy in interior decoration is something that progressive European artists and designers of the late 19th century would have applauded.

This panel is taken from the Qur'an, Surah 54, Verse 1-6. It's translation is as follows;

In the name of the merciful and long-suffering God,
The Merciful hath taught the Koran
He has created man and taught him speech.
(He has set) the sun and the moon in a certain course,
Both the moon and the stars are in subjection (unto him).

Cultural Links

Since the Sumerians of Mesopotamia (modern day Iraq) invented writing in 3,100 BC, lettering has become part of most human cultures. Calligraphy evolved to represent the beauty of speech through the work of the hand. Over the centuries philosophy and religion have combined with calligraphy to make it one of the supreme art-forms in China, Japan and the Islamic world.

Next : Animal tile panel, circa 17th - 19th Century.

Previous : Mosaic frieze, circa 1881-1882.

End Arab Hall Tour.