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Cufic Writing

characters, arabians and coins

CUFIC WRITING, the written characters of which the Arabians now make use, and which we meet in printed works, namely, the Neskhi characters are an invention of the 4th century of the Hegira. Before this time the Cufic characters, so called from the town of Cufa, or Kufa, where they are said to have been invented, were in use. These old characters have so much resemblance to the ancient Syriac writing, the Estrangelo, that it hardly admits of a doubt that the Arabians borrowed them from the inhabitants of Syria. Historical traditions confirm this supposition. The Cufic characters, and perhaps others at an earlier date which essentially resembled them, were prob ably first introduced among the Arabians a short time before Mohammed. Although we are at present ignorant of the characters which were previously in use among them, and though the imperfect accounts of the Mussulman writers throw very little light upon the yet it is scarcely credible that the Arabians re mained destitute of a written character until the 6th century of the Christian era. We find the

transition of the Cufic to the Neskhi on the ruins of Chilminar. The influence which the school of Cufa exerted on Islamism caused the use of the character which proceeded from it ; and when the others had fallen into oblivion, Cufic writing was the name commonly applied to all kinds of Arabic writing previous to the change made by Ehn Mokla. A knowledge of it is important on account of the many monu ments in which it is preserved; especially the coins inscribed with Cufic characters and made in the first centuries of the Hegira.

In connection with these coins are to be con sidered the small pieces of glass which were introduced,particularly in Sicily, under the dominion of the Mohammedans, instead' of money, or perhaps under the sanction of public authority became used as standards of the weight of coins.