Thuluth (Arabic: ثلث “one-third”, Turkish: Sülüs) is a script variety of Islamic calligraphy, which made its first appearance in the 11th century CE (fourth century of the Hijrah). The straight angular forms of Kufic were replaced in the new script by curved and oblique lines. In Thuluth, one-third of each letter slopes, from which the name (meaning “a third” in Arabic) comes. It is a large and elegant, cursive script, used in medieval times on mosque decorations. Various calligraphic styles evolved from Thuluth through slight changes of form
The greatest contributions to the evolution of the Thuluth script, occurred during Ottoman Empire in three successive steps that Ottoman Art Historians call “Calligraphical Revolutions”:
▪ The first “revolution” occurred in the 15th Century and was initiated by the Master Calligrapher Sheikh Hamdullah.
▪ The second revolution occurred as a result of the Ottoman Calligrapher Hâfız Osman in the 17th Century.
▪ Finally, Mehmed Şevkî Efendi in the late 19th Century, gave the script the distinctive shape it has today.
▪ The best known artist to write the Thuluth script at its zenith is said to be Mustafa Rakım Efendi, a painter who set a standard in Ottoman calligraphy which many believe has not been surpassed to this day.
▪ Thuluth was used to write the headings of surahs, Qur’anic chapters. Some of the oldest copies of the Qur’an were written in Thuluth. Later copies were written in a combination of Thuluth and either Naskhi or Muhaqqaq, while after the 15th century Naskhi came to be used exclusively.
▪ This font is much seen in Flag of Saudi Arabia where its text, Shahadatut Tawheed, is written in Thuluth.
▪ An important aspect of Thuluth script is the use of Harakat (“Hareke” in Turkish) for representing vowel sounds, and other marks that were created to beautify the script. The grammatical Harakat follows the normal rules for any Arabic script, but the ‘Art’ markings follow their own rules in relation to placement and grouping. One common grouping technique is to separate the marks written below letters from those written above. The stylistic rules allow for great creativity as to shape and orientation.
Scripts developed from Thuluth
▪ Since its creation thuluth has given rise to a variety of script used in calligraphy, and allowed numerous modifications during its course of evolution. Jeli Thuluth was developed to be used in large panels, such as tombstone etc. Muhaqqaq calligraphy script was developed by widening the horizontal sections of the letters in Thuluth. Naskh script was also developed from thuluth, by introducing a number of modifications resulting in smaller size and greater delicacy. Tawqi is a modified and smaller version of Thuluth .
▪ Riq’a was probably derived from the Thuluth and Naskh styles, the later itself being originated from thuluth.
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