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Bible Encyclopedias

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature

Kufic Writing

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an ancient form of Arabic characters, which came into use shortly before Mohammed, and was chiefly current among the inhabitants of Northern Arabia, while those of the south-western parts employed the Himyaritic or Mosnad (clipped) character. The Kufic is taken from the old Syriac character (Estrangelo), and is said to have been first introduced by Moramer or Morar ben-Morra of Anbar. The first copies of the Koran were written in it, and Kufa, a city in Irak-Arabi (pashalic of Bagdad), b6ing the one which contained the most expert and numerous copyists, the writing itself was called after it. The alphabet was arranged like the Hebrew and Syriac (whence its designation, ABGaD HeVeS), and this order, although now superseded by another, is still used for numerical purposes. The Kufic character, of a somewhat clumsy and ungainly shape, began to fall into disuse after about A. D. 1000; Ebn-Morla of Bagdad (died A.D. 938) having invented the current or so-called Neshki (nashak, to copy) character, which was still further improved by Ebn-Bawab (died 1031), and which now- deservedly, as one of the prettiest and easiest- reigns supreme in East and West. It is only in MSS. of the Koran, and in title-pages, that the Kufic is still employed. A peculiar kind of the Kufic is the so-called Karmatian-of a somewhat more slender shape-in which several inscriptions have been met with both in Arabia, and in Dauphiny, Sicily, etc., and which is also found on a coronation mantle preserved in Nuremberg. The Kufic is written with a style, while for the Neshki slit reeds are employed. Different kinds of the latter character (in which the alphabet is arranged according to the outward similarity of the letters) are the Moresque or Maghreb (Western), the Divini (Royal-only employed for decrees, etc.), the T'lik (chiefly used in Persian), the Thsoletki (threefold, or very large character), Jakuthi, Rihani, etc. (See ALPHABET).

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Bibliography Information
McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Kufic Writing'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.

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