Islamic art encompasses the visual arts produced from the 7th century onward by people who lived within the territory that was inhabited by or ruled by culturally Islamic populations. It is thus a very difficult art to define because it covers many lands and various peoples over some 1,400 years; it is not art specifically of a religion, or of a time, or of a place, or of a single medium like painting. The huge field of Islamic architecture is the subject of a separate article, leaving fields as varied as calligraphy, painting, glass, pottery, and textile arts such as carpets and embroidery.
Calligraphic design is omnipresent in Islamic art, where, as in Europe in the Middle Ages, religious exhortations, including Qur'anic verses, may be included in secular objects, especially coins, tiles and metalwork, and most painted miniatures include some script, as do many buildings. Use of Islamic calligraphy in architecture extended significantly outside of Islamic territories; one notable example is the use of Chinese calligraphy of Arabic verses from the Qur'an in the Great Mosque of Xi'an. Other inscriptions include verses of poetry, and inscriptions recording ownership or donation. Two of the main scripts involved are the symbolic kufic and naskh scripts, which can be found adorning and enhancing the visual appeal of the walls and domes of buildings, the sides of minbars, and metalwork. Islamic calligraphy in the form of painting or sculptures are sometimes referred to as quranic art.