The arts of the Islamic book, such as calligraphy and decorative drawing, developed during A.D. 900 to 1500, and luxury books are some of the most characteristic examples of Islamic art produced in this period. This came about from two major developments: paper became common, replacing parchment as the major medium for writing, and rounded scripts were regularized and perfected so that they replaced the angular scripts of the previous period, which because of their angularity were uneven in height. Books became major vehicles for artistic expression, and the artists who produced them, notably calligraphers and painters, enjoyed high status, and their workshops were often sponsored by princes and their courts. Before A.D. 900, manuscripts of the Koran (the book containing the teachings of the Islamic religion) seem to have been the most common type of book produced and decorated, but after that date a wide range of books were produced for a broad spectrum of patrons. These continued to include, of course, manuscripts of the Koran, which every Muslim wanted to read, but scientific works, histories, romances, and epic and lyric poetry were also copied in fine handwriting and decorated with beautiful illustrations. Most were made for sale on the open market, and cities boasted special souks (markets) where books were bought and sold. The mosque of Marrakech in Morocco is known as the Kutubiyya, or Booksellers’ Mosque, after the adjacent market. Some of the most luxurious books were specific commissions made at the order of a particular prince and signed by the calligrapher and decorator.
Papermaking had been introduced to the Islamic lands from China in the eighth century. It has been said that Chinese papermakers were among the prisoners captured in a battle fought near Samarqand between the Chinese and the Muslims in 751, and the technique of papermaking – in which cellulose pulp extracted from any of several plants is first suspended in water, caught on a fine screen, and then dried into flexible sheets – slowly spread westward. Within fifty years, the government in Baghdad was using paper for documents. Writing in ink on paper, unlike parchment, could not easily be erased, and therefore paper had the advantage that it was difficult to alter what was written on it. Papermaking spread quickly to Egypt – and eventually to Sicily and Spain – but it was several centuries before paper supplanted parchment for copies of the Koran, probably because of the conservative nature of religious art and its practitioners. In western Islamic lands, parchment continued to be used for manuscripts of the Koran throughout this period.
The introduction of paper spurred a conceptual revolution whose consequences have barely been explored. Although paper was never as cheap as it has become today, it was far less expensive than parchment, and therefore more people could afford to buy books, Paper is thinner than parchment, so more pages could be enclosed within a single volume. At first, paper was made in relatively small sheets that were pasted together, but by the beginning of the fourteenth century, very large sheets – as much as a meter across – were available.These large sheets meant that calligraphers and artists had more space on which to work. Paintings became more complicated, giving the artist greater opportunities to depict space or emotion. The increased availability of paper, particularly after 1250, encouraged people to develop systems of representation, such as architectural plans and drawings. This in turn allowed the easy transfer of artistic ideas and motifs over great distances from one medium to another, and in a different scale in ways that had been difficult, if not impossible, in the previous period.
Rounded styles of Arabic handwriting had long been used for correspondence and documents alongside the formal angular scripts used for inscriptions and manuscripts of the Koran. Around the year 900, Ibn Muqla, who was a secretary and vizier at the Abbasid court in Baghdad, developed a system of proportioned writing. He standardized the length of alif, the first letter of the Arabic alphabet, and then determined what the size and shape of all other letters should be, based on the alif. Eventually, six round forms of handwriting, composed of three pairs of big and little scripts known collectively as the Six Pens, became the standard repertory of every calligrapher.
在公元900至1500年，伊斯兰书籍的艺术造诣，如书法和装饰绘画，得到很大发展。奢侈书籍成为这个时期伊斯兰艺术的最典型代表。这主要源于两大主要发展：一是纸变得随处可见，取代羊皮纸成为主要的书写工具。二是规范完善了圆形字体以取代之前的方形字体，因为方形字体的尖角高度不平均。书成为艺术表达的主要工具；制作书籍的艺术家，通常是书法家和绘画家，享有很高的地位。他们的作坊得到王子和宫廷的资助。公元900年之前，古兰经（写着伊斯兰教义的书籍）的手稿是最常见的印刷和装饰书籍。但是之后，各类资助人资助制作了各式各样的书籍。这些书籍不仅有每个穆斯林都想诵读的古兰经的手稿，还有科学作品，历史书，冒险故事书，史诗书，和诗歌书，它们都印有清晰的字迹和美丽的插图。大部分书籍都在市场上出售，城市设有书籍交易的特殊市场。摩洛哥马拉喀什的清真寺被称为库图比亚清真寺，也叫做书商的清真寺。最奢侈昂贵的书是受某王子特别委托制作出来并有书法家和装饰者亲笔签名的作品。 造纸术在8世纪由中国传到伊斯兰。据说是因为751年中国和穆斯林在撒马尔罕附近的一场战役中，中国的造纸工匠被虏成为囚犯，造纸术才逐渐向西传播。造纸术这项技术是首先是将从植物中提取的纤维素纸浆悬浮在水中，然后用筛选设备过滤，再烘干成柔软的纸张。在不到50年的时间里，巴格达政府就已经在使用纸记录文件。和羊皮纸不同，使用纸张的优势在于：用墨汁在纸上写的东西不易擦除，所以写在纸上的东西很难改变。造纸术很快传播到埃及，最终传到西西里岛和西班牙。但是纸张取代羊皮纸用来印刷古兰经则较晚出现，或许因为宗教艺术和从业者们的保守性。因此，在整个8世纪，西伊斯兰仍然使用羊皮纸书写古兰经。 纸张的引进催生了一次概念革命，其影响几乎还未被探索。尽管当时的纸没有现在廉价，但是它比羊皮纸便宜多了，所以更多人可以买得起书。因为纸比羊皮纸薄，所以在一册中装订的页数也更多。最开始，人们把相对小的纸张粘在一起，但是到了14世纪早期，出现了宽达一米的大型纸张。 这些大型纸张意味着书法家和艺术家有更多的创作空间。绘画变得更复杂，艺术家有更多机会去描绘空间表达情感。特别是在1250年以后，纸张可用性增加鼓励人们发展了模型系统，比如说建筑平面图和绘画。这反过来使得艺术思想和理念更容易从一种媒介跨越远距离转移到另外一种媒介。而在这之前，艺术思想和理念的传播，如果有可能的话，其规模和方式也远远不及现在。这一时期，通信和文件中使用阿拉伯书法的圆形风格，而碑文及古兰经手稿中则使用正式楷体。大约在900年，伊本穆格来，巴格达阿巴斯法院的秘书和大臣，发明了一套匀称的书写体系。他规范了alif（阿拉伯字母表的第一个字母）的长度，然后在alif长度的基础上，确定了所有其他字母的大小和形状。最终，书写的六个圆形符号，包括三组大小写法，伊本穆格来被称为Six Pens，成为了每个书法家的标准配置。