Writing assumed great significance in Islamic culture. The centrality of the Qur'an and the prohibition on idolatrous representations of Allah helped to make calligraphy both a religious and an aesthetic discipline.

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Key figures in the creation of scripts suitable for the Qur'an and for secular use were widely celebrated. The 10th-century vizier Ibn Muqla, who provided a geometric codification of cursive scripts, was revered as 'a prophet in the field of handwriting; it was poured upon his hand, even as it was revealed to the bees to make their honey cells hexagonal.'

Treatises on penmanship ennoble the art of writing through the mathematical proportions of fine calligraphy: 'Euclid said: Handwriting is spiritual geometry which appears by means of a bodily instrument'. It is therefore especially appropriate that calligraphy plays a vital decorative role in the most prestigious of mathematical instruments.