Our God and your God is One

Gouache on laser-cut card, hand-assembled. 48x48 cm.
Made in bannā’i style as used on façades from Persia to Transoxiana.

Date23 April 2022
Category, ,

This short sentence chosen is taken from Surat al-‘Ankabut 29:46:

ولا تجٰدلوا أهل الكتٰب إلّا بالّتي هي أحسن إلّا الّذين ظلموا منهم وقولوا امنّا بالّذي أنزل إلينا وأنزل إليكم وإلٰهنا وإلٰهكم وٰحد ونحن له مسلمون

And say, “We believe in what has been revealed to us and what was revealed to you. Our God and your God is One. And to Him we submit.”

Having covered a whole range of calligraphic types of Kufi, I wanted to also feature constructed styles. Square Kufi was obvious but overused, whereas its more challenging relative is hardly ever seen. There isn’t even really an English term to refer to it (“rectangular” Kufi is rather lame); I think banna’i or masonry script fits best because it requires bricks or materials emulating bricks. This style typically fills a very large surface and is written at a 45º angle, due to the way bricks have to be arranged. Here’s a spectacular example, the facade of the Khoja Ahmed Yasawi mausoleum in Khazakhstan:

To introduce some dimension and evoke the architectural connection whiel giving it a little contemporary twist, I designed a fully-filled surface made up of three levels of colour, stacking down instead of up (the white is at the bottom and dark blue at the top).

Laser cutting allowed me to cut thick layers of card with the perfect accuracy that was absolutely needed here. Everything was painted by hand then assembled, like a particularly elaborate puzzle. A few touches of gold set off the matte blues, which hark back to the original ceramic glazes rather than to manuscript colours.

A penny for your thoughts...