Wednesday, March 28, 2007
3-Dr. Fuat BAŞAR
17-Ali Rıza ÖZCAN
22-Ali ihsan SAKAL
26-Abdulhadi (Erol) DÖNMEZ
29-Ahmet Tuna Acar
38-Ahmet Zeki Yavaş
40-Ömer Faruk Atabek
Text and Photograph ©http://www.turkhattat.com
Tuesday, March 27, 2007
In "Turk Hat Sanati - Arac Gerec ve Formlar" (Turkish Calligraphy -- Tools, Materials and Forms), M. Sinasi Acar introduces readers to the masters and forms of calligraphy as well as its tools.
Although the Turkish Republic uses the Latin alphabet today, artists who were involved in calligraphy are remembered as the most successful calligraphers in the entire world. The success of Turkish calligraphers continues even today as the names of such artists fill the top ranks of calligraphers worldwide.
This new book supports books that have been published in the past on the topic of calligraphy using Arabic letters. The book is made up of three sections. The first section covers paper finishing, reed pens, ink-making formulas, inkstands, sharpening instruments, types of pen sharpeners, pen cases and scissors. The second introduces the forms and shapes in which calligraphy is employed -- the Koran, pieces of poetry, collages of writing, framed inscriptions, descriptions of the Prophet and Muslim prayer books. The third section contains examples of other places where calligraphy is to be seen.
Author Turgay Artam says: "When one has to say something about Ottoman art -- leaving aside architecture -- the most important branch of art is that of Husn-u Hat [calligraphy]. One could say that the art form became so significant that it was considered holy primarily because of the Koran, and this was the reason that particular attention was paid to every instrument which assisted in the writing. The various parts of the process from pen to paper, from pen sharpener to bindings to the paper used in writing have seen great interest in today's auctions."
Text © Turkish Daily News. http://www.turkishdailynews.com.tr/archives.php?id=12838
In Turkey, public and private museums organize various activities for Museum Week which takes place between May 18-24,1999. In this context, one of the most interesting displays was opened at the Foundations General Directorate's "Turkish Foundation Calligraphy Art Museum." The "Calligrapher Ottoman Sultans Exhibit," which opened on the occasion of the 700th anniversary of the Ottoman Empire and of Museum Week, was greeted with enthusiasm by art lovers and people interested in Turkish calligraphy.
"Some of the Ottoman sultans were interested not only in literature and music but also artistic writing, and that is why we can see their calligraphic works in religious buildings, museums and special collections. The sons of the Ottoman sultans also showed a keen interest in this art. Ottoman sultans who acquired a reputation for calligraphy were Murat II, Murat III, Beyazid II, Kanuni Sultan Suleyman, Murat IV, Suleyman II, Mustafa II, Ahmet III, Mahmut II and Sultan Abdulmecid. It is well known that Murat II was particularly skilled in "sulus" and "nesih," but we don't know who his teacher was. Bayezid II (1481-1512) studied at a religious school, took lessons from well-known calligrapher Sheikh Hamdullah and after he became sultan, he invited his teacher, who lived in Germany, to come to Istanbul.
Beyazid II, who used the pseudonym Adli, followed in the footsteps of his teacher and, at the end, their "sulus" and "nesih" writings were so similar that it was almost impossible to separate them. Kanuni Sultan Suleyman composed poems using the pseudonym "muhibbi" and we know from various sources that he was an expert in "sulus" and "talik." Murat III (1574-1595) took lessons from Sheikh Suca Halveti and wrote "nesih" and "talik." His works are preserved in the Turkish Foundation Calligraphy Art Museum and the St. Sophia Museum. It is believed that Murat IV (1623-1640) started writing "talik" after taking lessons from the Persian Imad.
Suleyman II (1687-1691) took lessons from Ahmet Efendi of Tokat and used the "sulus" and "nesih" scripts. Mustafa II (1695-1703) was the student of Hocazade Mehmet Efendi and Hafiz Osman and became an expert in "talik," "nesih," and "sulus." It is believed that a "besmele" (prayer recited by Muslims before starting a new project) which is kept in the St. Sophia today belonged to Mustafa II. Sultan Ahmet III (1703-1730) took lessons from the famous calligrapher of the time Hafiz Osman and wrote in the "sulus" and "celi" scripts. His writings were ornamented by famous gilding artist Tozkondurmaz Mustafa Aga. The "celi" hadith on the Yeni Valide Camii in Uskudar, the panel on the Ayazma mosque, the kiosk with his name in Sultanahmet and the script on the door of the Hirka-i Saadet Office where the sacred belongings of the Topkapi museum are kept are his work. Besides, two of his Korans have been sent to the Ravza-i Mutahhara in Medina. The Turkish Foundation Calligraphy Art Museum includes his calligraphy panels brought from the Ortakoy Kucuk Mecidiye Mosque and the Halicioglu Mihrisah Sultan Mosque.
Mahmut II was able to spare the time for art and especially calligraphy even during the most difficult times of the empire. He took lessons from Mehmet Vasfi Efendi and Mustafa Rakim. Beyazid II has calligraphy plates in the Suleymaniye and Uskudar Yeni Valde mosques, the Konya Mevlana Museum and the Turkish Foundation Calligraphy Art Museum. Abdulmecid (1839-1861) was an Ottoman sultan known for his sympathy for Western culture. He used the "sulus," "celi" and "rika" scripts and took lessons from Mahmud Celaleddin and Tahir Efendi. His works are kept in the Beylerbeyi Mosque and the Turkish Calligraphy Art Museum.
The plates on the altar of the St. Sophia were also written by Ottoman sultans. Yet the sultans did not want to sign them out of respect for the sanctity of the St. Sophia. It was only when experts analyzed the plates later on that they understood that the handwritings belonged to the rulers.
The "Calligrapher Ottoman Sultans Exhibit" at the Turkish Foundation Calligraphy Art Museum during Museum Week introduced this little known aspect of the Ottoman sultans to the people. Furthermore, museum director Dr. Z. Cihan Ozsayiner recently started new research at the Foundation's General Directorate. "
Text © ERDEM YUCEL, Turkish Daily News. http://www.turkishdailynews.com.tr/archives.php?id=12838
2-Ali İbn. Bevvâb :Kendisinden bir asır önce gelen İbn.Mukle’nin vazettiği esası daha ileriye götürmüş ve geliştirmiştir. Kıymetli yazıları bazı kütüphane ve müzelerimizde mevcuttur.
3-Ali İbn-i Hilâl: İbn-i Bevvâb ve İbn-i Mukle’nin yolundan devam etmiştir.
Early Turkish Calligraphers
4-Cemâluddin Yakut’ul-Musta’sımî (1204-1298): Kalemin ucunu eğri keserek aklâm-ı sittede büyük bir gelişme vücuda getirmiştir.Yakut’un yaptığı bu yenilik,hüsn-ü hat tarihinde bir inkılap niteliğindedir, kendisi Türk’tür.Kendisinden sonra gelen Osmanlı Türkleri de hüsn-ü hat sanatının zirve eserlerini vererek Yakut’ul-Mustasım Kaleminin hakkını vermişlerdir.
5-Abdullah Sayrafî: Yakut’un yolundan giderek bilhassa nesih yazılarında tekemmül vadisinde ilerlemiştir.
Ottoman Turkish Calligraphers
6-Meraşlı Hayrettin: Meraşlı Hayrettin üstat, Şeyh Hamdullah’ın hocasıdır.
7-Amasyalı Şeyh Hamdullah (1437-1520): Murakaası ( yani albümü ) Topkapı Sarayı Müzesi Yazı Salonunda teşhirdedir. Padişah ll.Bayezîd’in hocası olan Şeyh Hamdullah bihakkın „kıblet’ul-küttab“ unvanı ile meşhurdur.Çünkü kendisi memleketimizde ve diğer milletlerde bulunan bütün hattatların bilhassa sülüs ve nesih yazılarda teveccüh noktası olmuştur. Böylece en büyük yazı üstâdının Türkiye’de yetiştiğini bıraktığı şâheserlerle ispat etmiştir. Yazı yazarken çok defa mürekkep hokkasını padişah tutmuştur. Bu ise hakkında yapılan en büyük iltifât ve hürmete misâl olarak yeter de artar bile...
8-Karahisarlı Şemseddin Ahmet Efendi (1468-1556): Ahmet Karahisarî İran hattatlarının tesirinden kurtulamamıştır. Sinan devrinde yetişen ve „şeş kalem“ yazının yüzünü ağartan Karahisarî’ye Yakut-ı Rûm da denmiştir.
9-Tacuddin Celâl: Süleymaniye Camii’nin kitâbelerinin yazılmasında Şeyh Hamdullah tarafından Kanunî’ye tavsiye edilen hattattır.
10-Bursalı Şerbetçizâde İbrahim Efendi: Tarzı, Şeyh’in tavrı tutunduktan sonra devam edememiştir.
11-Mustafa Dede: Şeyh Hamdullah’ın oğludur.
12-Hüsameddin Hüseyin Şah: Şeyh’in pek sevdiği talebelerindendir.
13-Şükrullah Halife: Şeyh Hamdullah’ın damadı olup, Hamdullah’tan sonra üstatların üstâdı olmuştur.
14-Pîr Mehmet: Şükrullah’ın oğludur.
15-Kırımlı Abdullah Efendi: Pîr Mehmet ve Mustafa Dede’nin talebesidir.
17-Belgratlı Feyzullah Efendi
18-Üsküdârlı Hasan Çelebî: Karahisarî’nin mânevî evlâdıdır.
19-Erzurumlu Halid: Hasan Çelebî’nin talebesidir.
21-Derviş Ali: İmam Mehmet ve Erzurumlu Halid’den icâzet almıştır.
22-Nefeszâde İsmail Efendi.
23-Suyolcuzâde Eyyubî Mustafa: Derviş Ali’nin talebesidir
24- Hafız Osman Efendi (Hafız Osman bin Ali-1642-1700 m.,?-1112 h.): Hafız Osman, zamanın üstâdı Derviş Ali’den ders almıştır. Daha sonra Derviş Ali’nin emriyle bir müddet Suyolcuzâde Eyyubî Mustafa’dan ders almıştır.Talimini tamamladıktan sonra Nefeszâde İsmail Efendi’ye de devam ederek Şeyh Hamdullah’ın yazılarındaki bütün incelikleri tamamen öğrenmiştir. Böylece yazılarında bilhassa sülüs ve nesihte Şeyh Hamdullah’tan sonra en büyük şahsiyet olarak kabul edilmiştir.O sıralarda başka tavırlarla yazan hattatlar bile Hafız Osman Efendi’ye devam etmişler, daha önce takip ettikleri kaideyi terk ile onun zarif ve parlak üslubu yoluna girmişlerdir. Pek çok talebe yetiştirmiştir. Hafız Osman hattıyla“ yazılan Kur’an-ı Kerim’ler iki bin ikinci yıla girdiğimiz şu günlerde bile memleketimizde büyük bir revaçla tercih edilmektedir. Hatta evlerimizdeki Kur’an-ı kerim'lerin çoğunun Hafız Osman hattıyla yazıldığını rahatlıkla söyleyebiliriz. Meşhur „waw çekme „ hikâyesi de Hafız Osman’a atfedilir.
25-Hezarfen Mehmet Efendi: Hafız Osman’ın talebelerindendir.
26-Süleyman Nahifî Efendi: Hz.Mevlânâ’nın Mesnevîsini aynı vezinde nazmen tercümede muvaffak olan şair Süleyman Nahifî Efendi de yazıda Hafız Osman Efendi’den kemale ermiştir.
27-Sultan lll.Ahmet: Hafız Osman’ın talebelerindendir.
28-Sultan ll.Mustafa:Hafız Osman’ın talebelerindendir.
29-Çinicizâde Abdurrahman Efendi:Hafız Osman Efendi’nin kalemlerini açmak hizmetiyle haklı iftihara kavuşanlardandır.
30-Cezzar Abdullah Efendi: İmam Mehmet Efendi’nin çömezidir.
31-Ramazan Efendi: Cezzar Abdullah Efendi’den icazet alan Ramazan Efendi, dört yüz Mushaf-ı Şerif yazmıştır.
32-Hafız Halil: Ramazan Efendi’nin halefidir.
33-Hafız Ahmet: Hafız Halil’in halefidir.
34-Yedikuleli Seyyid Abdullah Efendi: Hafız Osman’ın 1112 h.,1700 m.Yılında vefatından sonra Yedikuleli Seyyid Abdullah Efendi “üstat-ı ekber” sayılır.Sultan lll.Ahmet, Yedikuleli’yi daima manevî iltifatlarıyla ve bol ihsanlarıyla taltif eder. Padişaha teşekkürlerini sunmak için yazdığı Kur’an-ı Kerim çok nefistir. (“Bu kıymetli eser hâlen İstanbul Üniversitesi Kütüphanesinde kıymetli yazmalar içinde saklıdır.” Prof. Dr.Süheyl Ünver, Türk Yazı Çeşitleri, 1953, İstanbul,s.8)
35 Ef-Eğrikapılı Râsim Efendi: Yedikuleli’nin en güzide talebelerindendir. Çok talebe yetiştirmiş, çok sayıda Kur’an-ı Kerimler,en’amlar,murakaa ve kıt’alar yazmıştır.
36-Hıfzı: Râsim Efendi’nin talebesidir.
37-Seyyid Abdulhalim: Yedikuleli Seyyid Abdullah Efendi’nin oğlu ve meşhur talebesidir.
38-Seyyid Mehmet: Seyyid Abdullah Efendi’den mezun Seyyid Mehmet Efendi beş yüz Kur’an-ı Kerim yazmıştır. Bu sahada rekor Seyyid Mehmet Efendi’de..
39-Hafız Salih: Çemşîr “Şimşir”Hafız diye anılır.Üç yüzden fazla Kur’an-ı Kerim yazmıştır.
40-Şekerzâde Mehmet: Nesihte üzerine yetişen gelmemiş olarak bilinir. Şimşir Hafız ve Şekerzâde’nin yazıları karşısında hayranlıklar gizlenemez.
41-Süleyman Ah-enîn Kalem
42-Ömer: Sarayda yazı muallimi ve sikkelerin ressamıdır.
43-İmam Derviş Ali
48-Kütahyalı Şeyhzâde Mustafa (Mustafa el-Kutahî)
49-Afif damadı Osman
51-Trabzonlu Ömer Vasfî
52-İsmail Zühdî: Hıfzî Efendi’nin talebesidir. “Râkım geçilmez” sözüne mazhar meşhur hattat
Mustafa Râkım Efendi’nin ağabeyi ve hocasıdır .Kabr-ı şerifi Edirnekapı haricindedir. Nesih yazı en son âhengine Şeyh Hamdullah ve Hafız Osman’dan sonra İsmail Zühdî’de kavuşmuştur. Sülüs yazıda da Şeyh’in ve Hafız Osman’ın en güzel harf ve kelimelerini alarak aynen, fakat kendi üslûb kanunlarıyla taklit ederek sıralamıştır. Bundan dolayı yazılarına “Şeyh’indir!” dendiği bile olmuştur.
53- Mustafa Rakım Efendi (1757-1828): İsmail Zühdî Efendi’nin en büyük talebesi ve küçük kardeşidir. Bir anlamda en büyük eseridir diyebiliriz. Çünkü Râkım’ın ressamlık yönü bir tarafa; sülüs, nesih, ta’lik ve bilhassa celîde muazzam bir üstaddır.Hiç kimse bu zat kadar lâtif ve bediî tarzda yazmaya muktedir olmamıştır. Onun muazzam eserleri karşısında hayrette kalmamak mümkün değildir. Tuğraları eski şekilden ıslâh ederek en iyisini tasavvur edilmeyecek derecede nefis ve yeni bir tarzda yazmaya kendisinden başka kimse muvaffak olamadı. Tuğrayı herkesin kendi dar zevkine göre uydurmasına mani olmuş ve onu takip edenler yolunda yürümekten başka çare bulamamışlardır.Yazı hiçbir hattatın elinde Râkım’daki kadar teşahhus edememiştir.
54-Mehmet Esad Yesarî (1753-1798)
55-Mahmud Celaleddin (?-1849)
56-Esma İbret Hanım (?-1780)
57-Fatma Şerife Hanım.
58-Kazasker Mustafa İzzet Efendi (1770-1849)
59-Mehmet Hulusî Efendi (1869-1940)
60-Seyyid Mehmet Şevkî Efendi: (1829-1887Dayısı hattat Hulusî Efendiden sülüs ve nesihi meşk etmiş ve asla üstadını bırakmamıştır. Kütüphaneye „Hafız Osman murakka’aları“ denen yazılarını görmek için devamlı gider , yazıları çok mütalaa ederdi. Ayrıca İsmail Zühdî Efendinin yazılarını elde eder ve ruhundan ruhuna feyiz almak için haftanın muayyen günlerinde Edirnekapı haricindeki kabrini ziyaret ederek kendini öyle yetiştirmiştir ki bilhassa sülüste ve nesihte zirveye yetişenlerden olmuştur.
Şevkî Efendi’nin hat şeceresi şöyledir:
a) Mehmet Hulusî (Dayısı)
b) Mahmud Racî
c) Ömer Vasfî
d) Yamak Salih
e) Hüseyin Haplî
f) Derviş Ali (Sanî)
g) Hafız Osman
h) Nefeszâde İsmail
i) Derviş Ali (Evvel)
j) Halid bin İsmail Erzurumî
l) Pîr Mehmet Dede
m) Damad Şükrullah Halife
n) Şeyh Hamidullah
61-Samî Efendi (1838-1912)
62-Bakkal Arif Efendi (1830-1909)
63-Râkım Bey (1874-1949): Bakkal Arif Bey’in talebesidir.
64-Paşazâde Ali Haydar Bey
65-Hoca Sa’deddin Efendi: Osmanlı Şeyh’ul-İslâmı.
66-Yahya Efendi. Osmanlı Şeyh’ul-İslâmı.
67-Feyzullah Efendi: Osmanlı Şeyh’ul-İslâmı.
68-Veliyuddin Efendi: Osmanlı Şeyh’ul-İslâmı.
69-Çelebizâde Asım Efendi: Osmanlı Şeyh’ul-İslâmı.
70-Hekimoğlu Ali Paşa: Osmanlı Sadrazamı.
71-Koca Râgıp Paşa: Osmanlı Sadrazamı.
72-Ağakapılı İsmail Efendi: Hafız Osman Efendi’nin benzeri olmayan müstesna bir zat olduğunu devamlı vurgulardı.
73-Yâkut bin Hilâl
75-Yesarîzâde: Esad Yesârî’nin oğludur.
76-Mehmet Tahir (?-1845)
77-Hacı Kâmil Akdik (1861-1941): ”Reis’ul-hattatîn” lâkabına hakkıyla kavuşanlardan.
78-Hacı Nuri Korman (1868-1951)
79-Aziz Efendi (1871-1934)
80-Hasan Rıza Efendi (1849-1920) Halim Özyazıcı’nın hocası.
81-Mustafa Halim Özyazıcı (1898-1964)
82-İsmail Hakkı Altunbezer (1873-1946)
83-Beşiktaşlı Hacı Nuri Efendi (1868-1951)
84-Filibeli Hacı Arif Efendi
85-Ömer Vasfî Efendi (1880-1928)-Mahmud Yazır’ın hocası.
86-Elmalılı Hamdi Yazır (1878-1942)-Sami Efendi’nin talebesi.
87-Mahmud Yazır (1895-1952)
88-Neyzen Haci Muhammed Emin Yazıcı Efendi (1898-1964): Ömer Vasfî Efendi’ nin kardeşidir.
90-Necmeddin Okyay (1883-1967)
91-Hafız Kemal Batogay (1891-1981)
93-Prof. Dr.Nihat Çetin
94-Tuğrakeş Hakkı Bey
95-Yahya Hilmî Efendi
97-Çırçırlı Ali (Haydar) Efendi: Şefik Bey’in talebesidir.
98-Hakkı Efendi (Hakkı Bey): Samî Efendi’nin talebelerindendir.
99-Faik Bey, Ferit Bey
100-Hâmit Aytaç (1891-1982)
Text and Photograph ©http://www.turkhattat.com
Monday, March 26, 2007
Photograph © Gallery of Portakal Sanat ve Kültür Evi, Istanbul
Initial situation of the museumWith orders of the Naval Commander-in-Chief Bozcaadalı Hasan Hüsnü Pasha and the support of the Commander of the Imperial Naval Arsenal Admiral Arif Hikmet Pasha, the Naval Museum was founded in 1897 by Commander Süleyman NUTKİ in the Imperial Naval Arsenal (now Taşkızak Shipyard in Hasköy, İstanbul), as the Museum and Library Administration Office.
Ali Sami BOYARAt first the museum opened its doors mainly as a repository of unclassified objects. However, in 1914 the Minister of the Navy Cemal Pasha, as he had realized with all other aspects of the Navy, renovated both the museum and its administration when he appointed Lieutenant Ali Sami BOYAR Director. A maritime artist, BOYAR subsequently reorganized the museum collections scientifically, established a ship-model workshop for building models and half-models of Turkish ships, and a workshop to manufacture human figures for museum displays, all integral steps in the development of the museum to its present status.
At the beginning of World War II, the collections were moved to Anatolia for safekeeping. After the war, the museum collections were returned to İstanbul in 1946, this time to a more suitable building complex of the Dolmabahçe Mosque. Following two years of preparation by the Museum Director Haluk ŞEHSUVAROĞLU, the new museum was opened to the public on 27 September 1948.
Complex of the Dolmabahçe Mosque with the widening of Dolmabahçe Avenue, it was necessary to relocate the museum once again. It was moved a short distance in 1961 to its current location in Beşiktaş, next to the tomb and monument of Barbaros Hayrettin Pasha (Barbarossa).
Hayrettin İskelesi Sok.80690 Beşiktaş/İstanbul - Türkiye
Phone +90 212 327 43 45
Fax +90 212 236 68 93
Photograph © Turkish Naval Museum Istanbul. http://www.dzkk.tsk.mil.tr/muze/English/Ana_Sayfa.htm
“Armorial from the Reign of Sultan Abdülhamit (1876-1909)”
Armorial bearing the "El Ghazi" monogram of Sultan Abdülhamit carved in relief on a raised, red-brown oval surface. The monogram is encircled by a gilt carved-rope design tied into a bow knot at the top.Dimensions : 92x83 cm
On the ground floor, the display of bows and arrows in the first room is followed by sections containing the weapons and other regalia of the cavalry, daggers and lancets, and sections devoted to Selim I, Mehmet the Conqueror, the conquest of Istanbul, weaponry from the early Islamic, Iranian, Caucasian, European . and Turkish periods. This floor also houses a unique collection of helmets and armor, as well as the sections allocated to firearms and tents. On the upper floor there are rooms where objects from World War I, the Battle of Gallipoli, and the War of Independence, and uniforms from more recent times are displayed. There is also an Ataturk room. The Janissary Band gives concerts in the museum.
Adres: Askeri Müze ve Kültür Sitesi Komutanlığı Harbiye- Şişli / İSTANBUL
Tel : 0 212 2332720
Fax: 0 212 2968618
Photograph © Dick Osseman. http://www.pbase.com/dosseman
The library consists of a number of sections. The main section contains publications on the archaeology of Turkey, the Balkans and the Middle East, with an emphasis on the earlier, pre-classical periods. The most important excavation reports, specialist studies and archaeological journals for this field of study can be foun in this section of the library which forms a unique collection in itself in İstanbul. The second section comprises books on the history of the Ottoman period, moreover general publications and journals on Islam and the Middle East. Apart from these, the second section has a growing number of publications in Turkish and other languages about the Selçuk Period. A third section comprises a large number of publications on Hititology and concerning the art and architecture of Europe between the 16th and 20 th centuries. The fifth section comprises books on the more recent history of Europe in general and the Netherlands more specifically.
Each year new publications on the above mentioned fields are acquired and lists with recent acquisitions are available free of charge. Most publications are in English, but there are also books published in a.i. Turkish, German and French Though the books can not be borrowed, photocopies can be made against a small payment.
Books on general subjects are available but the library specialises in the subjects like; Archeology, Byzantine, Ottoman, Travelogues, Modern Turkey, City Planning, Caucasia, Central Asia and Economics.
The library has 300 reader capacity and contains 18,000 books and 525 magazines (150 subcriptions)
The librray contains 11,025 books, 640 video tapes, more than 5000 slides and a rich collection of magazines. Most resources are in Italian but there are also others in French, English and Turkish. Italian history, art and archeology are represented, containing a great resource for researchers.
The collection includes cinema, children's and world classics, jurisprudence, economics, politics, theatre, child development and about 100 further subjects. The collection is now being computerized.
This fully-automated resource center operates with 4,500 reference books, various CD-ROM databases, on-line services, and government documents.
This library contains nearly 200,000 volumes: 24,803 in modern Turkish, 11,903 in Ottoman Turkish, 3,614 manuscripts in Ottoman Turkish, Arabic, and Persian. 14,547 periodicals, 552 annuals (salnames), 320 calendars, 272 maps, and 13 Qurans. There is also a collection of maps, folios of prints, calendars, and postcards in Ottoman Turkish. Exhibitions and conferences are regularly held in the library.
Arabic and Persian, 48,924 printed materials in Ottoman Turkish, 11,914 volumes in modern Turkish, 997 in English, 609 in French, 438 in German and 316 in other languages. It is the first librray in Turkey to provide microfilm and photocopying services, which were begun in 1950, and also provides computer search services.
Süleymaniye Yazma Eser Kütüphanesi Müdürlüğü
Ayşe Kadın Hamamı Sokak No. 35
Tel: + 90 (0) 212 520 64 60
Fax: + 90 (0) 212 511 22 10
e-mail : email@example.com
The library holds over 400,000 volumes of printed books, as well as 30,000 theses and 15,421 perodicals, and sits 800 people. The library has been in its present building near the Beyazıt Square since 1981; its former building now houses the Museum and Rare Books section of this library which contains a total of 18,606 manuscripts (9,943 in Turkish, 6,967 in Arabic, and 1,615 in Persian, 81 in other languages).
The Hazine-i Evrak, "treasury of papers" was set up to organise and catalogue these state documents, and a separate building was built to house them. During the Republican period, the Hazine-i Evrak, the Ottoman Archives, was put under the administration of the Prime Minister's office under the direct supervision of the director of the General State Archives. The process of cataloguing this immense collection of state documents continues today by a large number of professionally trained staff of experts. The catalogued documents are accessible to modern scholars, foreign and domestic.
Spectavular writing style having meaning of "obvious, big, large " in dictionary is a name given to Large from of writing style in calligraphy art written by a thicken pencil than calligraphic model writing pencil. For example,sülüs writing is normally written by 2,5 mm pencil, when this subgect measure is exceeded then, writing becomes celî.And when pencil thickness reaches to three times, now writing to becomes spectacular, large writing style . Writing written by measure between Large Letters and spectacular writing is given name of Arabic script style . In addition spectacular, obvious word expresses character not a style of writing.1
Although there is no difference between structures of. Large Letters and spectacular writing style Letters have more mature structure. Since Letters become largger, then structures and details become very well distinct and mature. By referring to this point, great calligrapher of spectacular writing style , Sâmi Efendi (1838- 1912) said that "As lang . as spectacular writing is not written then, secrets of calligraphy can not be" understood. 2 Thinness- thickness in spectacular writing style with Large Letters as well as distance space between Letters are adjusted in accordance with distance and location. For this reason, spectacular writing style with Large Letters requires great skill and ability.3
Birth and Development of Spectacular writing style with Celî Sülüs
During first years of Islam religion two different writing styles with corners with which Quran,epitaph and important documents had been written and written and writing style with round (circular, spherical) character where soft and curved lines dominate used in daily affairs and works.4
Form of writing with round character written by thick pencil (pen) in which writing had found essential development path is known by name of spectacular writing style by pencil. In actual fact ,this name had been given to writing style written by thick pencil in both characters during that period5. Name of great, illustrious has been converted into name of large in the Ottoman Calligraphy Art- School, however, there is no relationship between spectacular, illustrious writing at the beginning . And the Ottoman Spectacular writing style with Large Letters.6
In writing with soft and round character in which Calligraphy art has shown real development, the most distinct and obvious development had ocurred during Omayyad (661-750) period. 7 Kutbetül- Muharrir who had lived during end of Omayyads and first years of Abbasids, had invented "turmar" writing style with Large Letters of which pencil tip width is not known in specific.
İbn Mukle who lived during first period of Abbasids (750-1258) and was minister (vizier) and at the same time. Calligrapher, had bound letter time. To certain specific measures. 9 İbnü´l- Bevvab( d. 413/1022), who came one century after İbn Mukle and representing second stage of his school , had improved writing of İbn Mukle and made it more beautiful and attractive . 10 Although we do not have any specimen of spectacular writing style with Large Letters of İbnü- l- Bevvab, Ebu-l- Mecd Cemaleddin Yakut b. Abdullah el- Musta´simi (d . 698/1298). Had studied and exmined writings of İbn Mukle and İbnü-l- Bevvab for long time and made writing to have gained a new attitude. The greatest renovation made by Yakut was cutting pencil tip in curved manner which had been cut in flat manner till that time . 11
Writing style with Large Letters was in a simple form both in Letter structure and arrangement of Letters of including Seljuks before the Ottomans . Writing style with Large Letters of Seljuks had continued its influence and effect till Mehmet II, the conqueror period in Ottomans, and effect related to arrangement of Letters (pilling of Letters) had continued till XIII rd century but , there were some improvements from time to time.12 Attempt was made in spectacular writing style with Large Letters to catch success as in aklam-l Sitte,and although Letters were simple at the beginning as com[aring with Letters of XIX.Century ,it is immediately noted that a search has been made for beauty comparing with Seljuks Letters of writing style with Large Letters.
First important and fine specimens of the Ottoman spectacular writing style with Large Letters are seen during period of Mehamet II, the conqueror. Yahya Sufi and his son, Ali b. Yahya Sufi are famous Calligraphers in spectacular writing style with Large Letters during period elapsed till Râklm period Fatih mosque and Imperial gate of Topkep] palace inscriptions on left door seating written by Ali Sufi 15 , are without doubt, are seen to the most beautiful specimens of spectacular writing style with Large Letters till Râklm period. 16 A perfect level had been achieved to have been caught as letter structure in these inscriptions, besides Large letter inscriptions and naskhi writing style works, Sheik Hamdullah being foundan of the Ottoman School in calligraphy, Beyazid Mosques by writing style with Large Letters (celi sülüs).17 Can be considered as specimens of development period of the Ottoman spectacular writing style with Large Letters. However, these spectacular writing style with Large Letters of Sheik, had remained very simple as per concept of spectacula writing style with Large Letters of subsequent periods . 18 Ahmed Karahisari being representative of Yâkut School after Sheik in the Ottoman Calligraphy School had been more successful than Sheik in spectacular writing style with Large Letters and had been able to insert Letters into sentence in fine manner. 19 Although there existed no sharpness and easiness gained by writing style with Large Letters later on in Letters of Karahisarl, but esthetics proportion had been substantially attained.
Influence of Seljuks spectecular writing style with Large Letters can be seen as arrangement of Letters in writing style of Hasan Celebi who has been accepted as the most strong and influencial representative of Ahmet Karahisari School and who had written inscriptions on sülymaniye Mosque (excluding dome) and Edirne Selimiye Mosque by other Spectacular Character as Style,with Large Letters . 20 Although Letters bear Ottoman Character as Style, but arrangement of letter had been influenced by Seljuks writing style,. Vertical Letters had been put side by side . Although there existed sharpness and improvement in Letters comparing with previous specimens, but simple form and bluntness in Letters still continue.
On the other hand, Hâfiz Osman who had became a sample of RÂKIN who will make great changes in Spectacular writing style with Large Letters. When writing style of Hâfiz Osman has been examined and Studied , it is seen that besides simple form of Letters , in arrangement of letter. Letters had been piled up on certain places .
Great success had been gained in Ottoman writing style pertaining to our examined periods in spectacular writing style with. Large Letters and very beautiful and successful works had been produced. During this period no particuar marks had been used or had been used in small amount. Besides Letters, structure was very simple and in appropriate manner.
He was born in 1171/1758 in Ordu/ Ünye. He came to Istanbul when he was a small child and Learned Large Letter and naskhi style writing from his older brother İsmail Zühdi (death 1221/1805) in addition to his studies in scientific. He received his certificate in 1183/1769. when he received his certificate "Râkim " name was given to him. He learned writing style from from III. Derviş Ali. In spite of all difficulties and problems . Mustafa Râkim had achieved to have realized reform and changes which will deeply effect and infulence subsequent artisans after him by forming "Scholl" in spectacular writing style with large Lettery stone inscription on çelebi Mustafa Reşid Efendi in Eyüp are his most important works Râkim Efendi who died in 1241/1826, buried in tomb across Atikalipaşa Mosque in Fatih – Karagümmrük.21
When spectacular writing style with Large Letters , have been studied and examined from viewpoing of Letters and arrangement of Letters from the beginning especially of Seljuk, principalities , Ottoman periods , besides bluntness and simplicity of Letters, it is immediately noted , that pencil did not have any writing features. Writing style had continued with these features during the Ottoman period . In spite of the fact there existed corrections in Letters to be considered important comparing wish preveious peroprtion of Letters (measure, proportion) had not been caught till Râim. Proportion of Letters beauty of arrangement of Letters, fineness of pencil movements can be clearly seen in works of Râkim belonging to especially to his maturity period. This situation which could not be seen during previous periods is the greatest feacture brought by RÂKIM to writing style with Large Letters.
We can gather changes made by Mustafa Râkim23 in spectacular writing style with Large Letters under the following headings:
1- He had improved structure of Letters.
2- He had caught ideal measure between letter thickness and pencil thickness.
3- He had achieved extraordinary success in arrangement of Letters.
Calligraphers could not achieved proper proportion as structure in writing style with Large Letters till period of Mustafa Râkim. Even Standard could not be obtained in writing of same letter. And writing could only written as thick. 31Spectacular writing style with Large Letters could not be dealt by itself till period of Mehmet II, the conqueror because it had been seen as decoration element in architecture as well. For this reason, success could not be achieved in degree of aklam –l- sitte (the six styles of writing ) in writing style with Large Letters both from viewpoints of Letter structur and arrangement of Letters.
Râfiz Osman from viewpoing of beauty of Letters.24 The following expression of the Calligrapher Sâkim in spectacular writing style with Large Letters is in nature to veritfy that judgement. "If you could enLarge Letters of Hâfiz Osman you could find spectacular writing style with Large Letters of Râkim in smaller letters, then you could find writing style of Hâfiz Osman.
By improving structure of Letters, Râkim had achieved to have caught harmony between letter thickness and pencil thickness. Râkim had applied writing style with Large Letters with success by enlargement of letters of Hâfiz Osman. 25 Mustafa Râkim had studied and examined very carefully writing style of Hâfiz Osman and had applied structure and standing beauties of Letters of that master to spectacular writing style with large letters. He had achieved domination of pencil in writing style and so the most beautiful, ideal measures of letters had been attained . For this reason, letters of spectacular writing style with Large Letters of RÂKIM have lively, active , vigorous structure as in cases of writing styles of sheik and especially Hâfiz Osman.26
Inscription of Nakşidil Tomb dated 1234/1819 being works of maturity period of Râkim especially verse written by Large Letter writing style on Nakşidil public Fountain is an evidence about how letters had become softer in his hands.
When spectacular writing style with Large Letters belonging to previous centuries is compared with letters, word groups and arrangements of RÂKIM, then , liveliness, greatness, grandeur, beauty of arrangement of letters can be better seen and observed , Râkim had created proper proportion and vigor, liveliness in letters in spectacular writing style with Large Letters which ware blunt and in appropriate proportion before him and arrangement of letters had been saved from this organization and dispersion. Another feature of letters of RÂKIM is that they are in thickness which can be seen easily from far distance letters hod gained beauty, fineness measure as per place to be written or to be hung. 27
Râkim had improved structures of lathers first of in all in writing style with Large Letters and found out harmony between letter thickness and pencil thickness . It is possible to see and observe right , beauty and inveliness ,vigor of pencil movenents in letters of Râkim writing style.
Râkim had used in the most beautiful manner letters inside arrangement of letters and distributed letters in balanced form being suitable for display.
Râkim who had constituted school by reform conducted by him in spectacular writing style with Large Letters and put forth his behavior and attitude in spectacular writing style with Large Letters after 1221/1806 which is year of death of his older brother. After subject date, Râkim´s spectacular writing style with Large Letters had entered into a fast improvement path years of 1230/1815-1234/1819 are maturity period of Râkim and he had given his most beautiful work between these dates. The data of 1234 / 1819 is the data when letter and arrangement perfectness was at peak level. Fatih Nakşidil tomb inscriptions, Eyüp, Çelebi Mustafa Reşid Efendi cemetery store inscriptions written by him during this period are the most important works of his maturity period.
Are Life of Râkim can be divided into three sections in general, namely, beginning years till 1221/1806, improvement and development period between 1221/1806-1230/1815 and maturity period after 1230/1815. As you would appreciate that this classification has been made for the purpose of forming an idea in general as a result of classification of Râkim´s works. Certainly, these dates are related to previous periods and post- periods. 28
Firsty Râkim used to write writing style with Large Letters by making squares method, but he had written directly by cane pencil and watery black ink his Nakşidil tomp band inscription with 3 cm pencil tip thickness during his last period through his gained faculty and skill. It is possible to see this at present time. In writing molds maintained in Istanbul Turkish- Islamic Works Museum .
Arrangement of letters by Râkim is in front line by structure and standing positions of letter.29 In addition there was no certain method applied at the beginning of his art life esthetic improvement of early writing style of Râkim could not be adapted to improvement of early writing style of Râkim could not be adapted to improvement made in spectacular writing style with large letters. After 1230/1815, now , letters in writing style of Râkim started to show themselves nearby their respective structures, but Râkim had observed and complied with usage of letters in their proper arrangement and places.
When evaluation is made of Râkim Efendi had achieved aspect which could in doing so. Mustafa Râkim Efendi had achieved aspect which could not be realized in spectacular writing style with Large Letters till XIX.
The century , especially, he had applied liveliness of writing style of Hâfiz Osman to spectacular writing style with large letters. Also , he was poineer of the ottoman calligraphers in arrangement of letters. He had eliminated line and form deformation in imperial ciphers of the sultans and so created esthetics. Râkim having "Art School" in spectacular writing style with large letters, had been accepted and recognized as only Master by artisans who had followed him.
1M.Uğur DERMAN "Calligraphy" The Turkish Encyclopedia (TE), volume XIX , İstanbul, Ministry of National Education , 1971, p. 52; DERMAN, "Spectacular , Writing Style with Large Letters" İlgi , number 29 (May 1980), Year 1 p. 30 : Ali ALPARSLAN, "Islamic Writing Styles: 3 Spectacular writing style with Large Letters" Our Art World Number 33 (1985) , p. 27: M. Uğur DERMAN, "The Ottoman period in Calligraphy Art"Calligraphy Art in Islamic Culture Heritage (CAICH),Istanbul, Islam History , Art and Culture Research Center (IRCICA), 1992, page 35; Ali ALPARSLAN "Spectacular Writing Style" Religiosity Foundation Islam Encyclopedia of Turkey (DIA), Istanbul Religiosity Foundation of Turkey 1993 , Volume VII, p.265; Muhittin SERİN. Calligraphy Art and Famous Calligraphers (Calligraphy Art), Istanbul, kubbealti Publication, 1999 , p. 89; Ali ALPARSLAN, The Ottoman Calligraphy Art History, Istanbul Yapi kredi Publications, 1999, p. 105.
2DERMAN, TE,p .58 ,ALPARSLAN, The Ottoman Calligraphy Art History, p. 105-106.
3DERMAN,İlgi, p.30; M.Uğur DERMAN "Epitaph of Yeni Cami Public Fountain "Lâle,number 4(December 1986) p.17;ALPARSLAN,"Spectacular writing style with Large Letters"DİA,v.VII, P. 265.
4ÇETİN, Nihad M.- "Birth and Development of Islamic Calligraphy Art (Till the end of Yakut period)". Calligraphy Art in Islamic Culture Heritage (CAICH). Istandbul, IRCICA, 1992 ,p. 17
5Çetin, CAICH, p. 31
6Ali ALPARSLAN, "Importance of Architectural Buildings from viewpoint of Calligraphy Art " Boğaziçi (Bosphorus ) University (Humanities and Social Sciences) Magazine . Number 4-5, 1976-1977 p.3; Çetin,CAICH, p.30.
7Çentin, CAICH, p.20-21
8pencip tip width of tumar writing style is 24 horse tail in comparison with spectacular writing style with Large Letters of which pencil tip width is not specific (of common work horse). And this is equal approximately to 15 mm in measurements of present time ad minimum measure in spectacular writing style with Large Letters is this one. Writing style in one- third measure of that measure is named as "writing style of Arbic script with medium- Large Letters (see, El-Kalkasandi) Ahmed b.Ali). Subhu´l- A´şa, III, Beirut, 1987 , p. 54-61, ÇETİN, CAICH, p.22-23; A;PARSLAN, Islamic History ,p. 450-460 ; M Uğur DERMAN, "Development of Spectacular writing style with Large Letters from the Seljuks to the Ottomans" , IV.National Seljuk Culture and Civilization Seminar Circulars,25-26 April-1994 (A Separate publication). Konya Seljuk University, Seljuk Research Center ,1995 , p.9; ALRARSLAN, The Ottoman Calligraphy Art History , p. 105.
9Adolf GROHMANN, Arabische paleography (I teil), Wien ,1967, Islam el-said and Ayşe parman,Geometric Concepts in Islamic Art, London, World of Islam Festival Publishing Company Ltd 1976,p. 16;Islam el-said and Ayşe parman, Geometric Concepts in Islamic Art,Londo , World of Islan Festival Publishing Company Ltd 1976,p. 131; Ali ALPARSLAN "Servuce of İbn Mukle to Islamic Inscription ", Paleography and Diplomatic Seminer Throughout Tistors,30- April 12- May –1986 Circulars, Istanbul, Istanbul University . Faculty of Art , 1986,p.11; ÇETİN, CAICH, p.24; ALPARSL, Islamic History,p. 463; Abdülkerim ÖZAYKIN, "İbn Mukle", DIA, v. xx, p. 212;M.Uğur DERMAN "Calligraphy Art in the Ottoman Turks" The Ottoman Encyclopedia, Volume XI , Ankara Yeni Turkiye Publications, 1999 , p. 19; Muhittin SERİN, "The Ottoman, p. 27.
10 Mustakimzade Süleyman Sa´deddin. Tuhfe-i Hattatin, Istanbul , Turkish History Council Works , 1928 , p. 331-332; Habib . Calligraphy and Calligrapers, Istanbul, 1305 p. 44 ( There exists "kaside-i raiyye İbn Bevvab maa Şerh "poem written by İbn Bevvab between pages 45-48 about calligraphy and pencil (pen) ; A. Süheyl ÜNBER, life of Calligrapher Ali BİN HİLAL, Istanbul, Yeni Laboratuvar publications, 1958, p. 5; Muhitti SERİN "İbnü´- Bevvab"DIA ,v. XX , p. 534-535.
11Nefeszde, p. 41-43; Suyolcuzade , p. 8; Mustakimzade, p. 575-576; Habib p. 51-54; Selahaddin el-MÜNECCİD, Uakut el-Mustta´simi, Beirut, Daru´l- Kutubi´l- Cedid ,1985, p. 17; Nihad M. ÇETİN, " Yakut Musta´simi" Islamic Eccyclopedia (İA) volume XIII , Istanbul , The Ministry of National Education , 1986, p. 352-357; ÇETİN, CAICH, p. 27; ALPARSLAN, Islamic History, p. 464.
12 Ali ALPARSLAN , "Islamic Writing Styles: 3 Celî Sülüs " Our Art World , number 33, 1985 , p. 29; ALPARSLAN , The Ottoman Calligraphy Art History , p. 107.
13 Ekrem Hakki AYBERDİ. Calligraphers of Mehmet II, the canqueror period . Istanbul , Istanbul Istanbul Conquest Association 1953 , p. 19; ERBAS, Aynur. Inscriptions and Spectacular Writing style with Large Letters of Istanbul Mosques reached from Mehmet II the Conqueror and II nb Bayazid period till our present time. Istanbul , Marmara University Social Sciences Institution, Unpublished Master Degree Thesis, 1990 . p. 98.
14 The Quran. Hicr, 45-48.
15 The Quran. Saff, 13
16 ALPARSIAN, Humanity and Social Sciences , 7 (In respect with inscriptions (epitaphs ) and their reading , see , Abdurrahman ŞEREF "Topkai plaace Imperial "Istanbul, Fetih Cemiyeti publication, Istanbul, 1953 , p. 143, 146, 150, 303,310,315; SERİN,Calligraphy Art , History , p.33-34 )
17In respect with inscriptions and their respective readings, see, Muhittin SERİN, Inscriptions (epitaphs) of Istanbul Mosques from Mehmet II, the Conqueror and II nd Beyazid periods till our present time p.40-45, 46-48,73-77.
18M.Uğur DERMAN "Şeyh Hamdullah Being One of Our Calligraphy Genius"Hayat (Life Magazine), number 47, 1965 ,p.23; DERMAN, CAICH,p. 191; ALPARSLAN. Humanity and Social Sciences , p. 7; ALPARSLAN, The Ottoman Calligraphy Art History , p. 41.
19M. Uğur DERMAN, Turks in Islamic Art , Ankara, Yapi Kredi Bank Publications, 1974 , p. 54; ALPARSLAN, Famous Turkish Calligraphy , p.54;DERMAN , Our Writing Art During Süleman, The Magnificent , period , p. 273; SERİN, Our Calligraphy Art , p. 109-113.
20For more detailed information , regarding to life of Mustafa Râkim Efendi, see , Şânizâde Mehmed Ataullah, Şanizade History I-Ceride-i Havadis printing House, 1973,p. 213-214, Ahmed Lütfi- History of Lütfi (I) Istanbul Amir printing House 1292,p. 189-190. Mehmed Süreyya, The Ottoman registration (II). Istanbul 1308, p. 365 Ahmed Cevdet, History of Cevdet (XII), Istanbul, 1309,p. 141; A. Süheyl ÜNVER "The Calligrapher Mustafa Râkim Efendi, Istanbul, 50 Art poets Series –3 1953, p. 2; Haluk Y. ŞEHSUBAROĞLU, "Calligrapher Mustafa Râkim" Cumhuriyet Newspaper , 12-09.1955 and sebilülmin Volume IX , number 204 (1955) p.58-59; İbmülemin Mahmud Kemal İNAL, The last Calligraphers. Istanbul, The Ministry of National Education , 1970 p. 273-289; M. Uğur DERMAN, Calligraphy art in Islamic Culrure Heritage ( CAICH), Istanbul, IRCICA, 1992, `P. 204, Ali ALPARSLAN, The Ottoman Calligraphy Art History , p. 79 , 117-121; Muhittin SERİN, Calligraphy Art and Famous Calligraphers. Istanbul, Kubbealti publication, 1999 , p. 133-138; Süleyman BERK, Calligrapher Mustafa Râkm`s Esthetic To Celî Sülüs, Erzurum, Atatürk University Social Sciences Institution (Unpublished Doctorate Thesis), p. 9-58)
21In respect structure characteristics of Râkim Letters, see BERK, Calligrapher Mustafa Râkim´s Esthetic To Celî Sülüs, p. 79-82.
22Derman , CAICH, p. 34; M.Uğur DERMAN , Turkish Art from the Beginning Till present Tire, Ankara, Türkiye Iş Bankasi Cultural publications , 1993 ,p. 385.
23İsmayil Hakki BALTACIOĞLU, Calligraphy Art in Turks, Mersin , The Ministry of Culture, 1993, p. 45; DERMAN, Turkish Art from the Beginning Till Present Time , p. 385.
24BALTACIOĞLU, Calligraphy Art in Turks, p. 46, DERMAN , CAICH,p.35 Ali ALPARSLAN, Famous Turkish Calligraphers, Ankara, the Ministry of Culture , 1992, s . 90 ; ALPARSLAN, "Islamic Writing Art". Great Islam History from Birth till our present time. Volume XIV. Istanbul, Çağ publications 1993, p. 441-522 491-491; ALPARSLAN, The Ottoman Calligraphy Art History, p . 118
25DERMAN, CAICH, p. 35, ALPARSLAN, Islamic History, p. 491-492.
26İ. Hakki BALTACIOĞLU, Turkish plastics Arts. Ankara, The Ministry of Notional Education 1971, p. 117.
27Ahmed Süreyya, "Sanayi- i Nefise in Ottomans , Ezcümle Hutut- I bedia",Sirat-i Mustakim, number 174 (14Muharren 1329) p. 282; Ahmet Süreyya (Saltuk) son of the calligrapher , Hasan RIZA Efendi has expressed characteristics of spectacular, cursive writing style of RÂKIM in four articles in this article written by hem. These are briefly , plumpness of Letters , movement of Letters and mutual proportion of Letters and harmony of arrangement of Letters.
28 In respect with collective evaluation of determined works of Râkim , see, BERK, Calligrapher Mustafa Răkim´s Esthetic To Celî Sülüs.
29 BALTACIOĞLU, Calligraphy Art in Turks , p. 52-53.
Sunday, March 25, 2007
Calligraphy is the supreme art form of the Islamic world; even the other Islamic arts - architecture, metal work, ceramics, glass and textiles - draw on calligraphy as their principal source of embellishment.
This has been true from a very early date. As Islam spread from the Arabian Peninsula, first to Iraq, Syria, Palestine and Egypt, and somewhat later to North Africa, Spain, Sicily and, in the East, to Iran, Central Asia, China, India, the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia - to say nothing of Africa - Arabic script spread with it. Since the Islamic revelation - the Koran - is in Arabic, and since all Muslims, whatever their mother tongue, must endeavor to learn Arabic, the script in which the revelation of Islam was recorded entered the cultural traditions of a great diversity of peoples. Slightly modified forms of the Arabic alphabet were quickly adapted to the exigencies of languages completely unrelated to Arabic, such as Persian, Turkish, Hindi, Kurdish, Malay and even Spanish to name but a few. The areas that utilized this script were of course co-terminus with the boundaries of the Islamic state.
At a very early date, the characteristics of the Arabic script, which indicates only consonants and to some extent long vowels, were recognized, and a system of indicating - in writing - short vowels, doubled consonants and so forth was developed. This system consisted of a series of short marks placed above or below the consonant, and indicated how it should be pronounced. At an even earlier date, letters with similar shapes but different pronunciations had been distinguished by the addition of one, two, or three dots above or below the consonant in question. Otherwise, letters such as b, y, th, would have been indistinguishable.
The development of these matres lectionis was undertaken in order to fix the canonical reading of the sacred text, to ensure that when recited no variants might creep in and distort the word of God. Calligraphers have always used these marks to enhance the beauty of their compositions.
The earliest form of Arabic script was probably derived from script used by the Nabateans (See Aramco World, September-October 1965). Called Kufic - after the town of Kufa in Iraq where it attained its most developed form - this script, with its square letter-forms, was perfectly suited to inscriptions on stone and metal, and so was widely used for commemorative inscriptions; it is still used for its decorative qualities.
During the late Umayyad and early Abbasid periods, the greatly increased literacy of the Islamic peoples, and the introduction of inexpensive writing materials - notably paper - led to the development of a number of different styles of calligraphy. More cursive scripts were invented because Kufic was unsuitable for quick notation, and the rules for writing these were codified by a series of famous calligraphers, particularly Ibn Muqla, Ibn Bawwab and Yaqut al-Musta'simi. These men, between the 10th and 13th centuries, laid the foundations for calligraphy, both as a tool of government and as an art form, but later - in the 15th, 16th and 17th centuries - the great calligraphers tended to come from Ottoman Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan and India. In all these places, new developments and styles were created, some for bureaucratic purposes, some for artistic.
It is not surprising, therefore, that even today many of the leading calligraphers of the Islamic world come from non-Arabic speaking areas. One example is Aftab Ahmad, of Peshawar in Pakistan - examples of whose work are presented in the following pages. The son of Muhammad Sharif, also a famous calligrapher, Aftab Ahmad is a man of many talents; an internationally recognized photographer, he is also a well-known ceramicist and calligrapher. Extraordinarily, he is ambidextrous and can write either from left to right or right to left with either hand.
In keeping with the long tradition of Islamic calligraphy, the texts he prefers to inscribe are the shahada, the Muslim profession of faith, and short Koranic texts testifying to the unity of God. He is a master of the repertoire of styles, as the panel reproduced on Pages 26 and 27 illustrates: it contains the shahada written 15 times in different calligraphic styles.
The works of Islamic calligraphers, both past and present, are not always easy to decipher: although the form of individual letters must adhere to the rigid canons of whatever style is being used, clarity is not a paramount goal in artistic calligraphy. Part of the pleasure of looking at decorative calligraphy is the slow dawning of recognition, as the eye traces the letters and discovers a familiar text from the Koran. An example of how the words of a famous quotation are arranged by a master calligrapher, and how they must be read to attain their meaning, is given on this page.
Aftab Ahmad, although working firmly within the long-established tradition of Islamic calligraphy, has also added his own sense of color and movement. Each of his compositions is a work of art, and appeals to the viewer across linguistic and cultural boundaries.
This article appeared on pages 22-33 of the March/April 1984 print edition of Saudi Aramco World.Photograph © Calligrapher Ali Toy, Turkey
"You don't breathe much when you are doing this," Zakariya comments as he begins to write, his reed pen squeaking on the polished surface of the paper.
As he demonstrates his work, Zakariya explains how many steps are involved before he actually sits down to produce a piece of "beautiful writing." Ink, made from the soot of linseed oil he burns in his back yard, is combined with gum arabic and water and stirred for hours. Each sheet of paper used is individually sealed and smoothed with three coats of varnish, burnished and then aged for at least a year.
And in order to make the calligraphy pen, or kalem, Zakariya adds, "You have to learn how to be a wood carver." Woody reeds such as cane or bamboo are preferred, and must be aged for a minimum of four years.
Once the tools, paper and ink are prepared, the next step is choosing the text: preferably a selection from the Qur'an, a quotation from the Prophet Muhammad, a maxim or a poem. Zakariya designs the piece and practices calligraphing the text in order to create a stencil. This stencil, with the outlines of the letters marked with pin-pricks, is called a kalib, or mold. Placing the stencil over the piece of paper chosen for the work, Zakariya lightly dusts it with charcoal powder, transferring the design as a series of dots onto the final surface.
Uttering "Bismillah" ("In the name of God"), Zakariya begins the final stage. "You can do wonderful things when the ink and paper are cooperating," he notes, as his pen travels slowly and precisely across the page. Depending on the complexity of the design, several pens are generally used for each work.
Finished with the design, he cleans up some of the edges with a scraping knife. "One of the ideas of calligraphy is to make the work so neat when it is finished that it looks as if it grew that way, like a plant," he says. The writing is then burnished with a smooth agate set in a handle, to bond it to the paper, and decorative borders or gold illumination may be added.
This article appeared on pages 10-17 of the January/February 1992 print edition of Saudi Aramco World.
Photograph © Fedai Sait/Istanbul
Mohamed Zakariya is a modern man practicing ancient arts. "In a sense, I am a jack-of-all-trades. I like the stimulation and the variety," he explains, as he methodically stirs a mortar of ink in his pleasantly cluttered studio. He was preparing his own home-made black ink for his calligraphy, many examples of which hang on the walls of his small studio. Sundials and intricately engraved brass astrolabes, all made by Zakariya, decorate the tops of bookshelves that overflow with titles in Turkish, Arabic and Rumanian.
Old calligraphy exercises from his tutors in Istanbul lie on a others completed by Zakariya's own students. Above the table, wooden shelves hold brightly colored rows of specially prepared watercolors with names like cadmium red, rose madder and Chinese vermilion. Glass jars of calligraphy pens, carved from bamboo and reed by Zakariya himself, sit neatly arranged on his desk.
Behind the studio, a workshop full of machinery reveals another side of this jack-of-all-trades: Zakariya is as comfortable - and as skilled - working on his 19th-century lathe, or manufacturing his own engraving tools and compasses, as he is guiding a calligraphy pen across paper.
This world of medieval skills is Mohamed Zakariya's; he entered it through the traditional art of Islamic calligraphy some 30 years ago. Once described by Palestinian-American artist Kamal Boullata as "a medieval artisan led by faith and professional expertise," Zakariya is an internationally renowned American Muslim calligrapher, with a penchant for handcrafting working reproductions of historical Islamic and early European scientific instruments.
Faith was the catalyst for California-born Zakariya's introduction to calligraphy. In the 1960's, while still a teenager, he converted to Islam and began teaching himself Arabic. Zakariya recalls how he discovered, through those early studies, that "calligraphy was an important aspect of both Arabic and Islamic life." (See Aramco World, September-October 1989.) During the day, he worked as a machinist in a factory. At night, he pursued his self-taught Arabic and calligraphy studies.
Two trips to Morocco in the early 1960's had introduced him first-hand to a religion that, he says, "attracted me like a magnet." Hardly the average tourist, Zakariya spent most of his time in mosques. During his second visit, while examining a copy of the Qur'an in a small bookstore, he met an Egyptian calligrapher, Abdussalam Ali-Nour, who was to become his first teacher. This was the beginning of an intriguing path that, years later, led him to Istanbul and master calligrapher Hasan Çelebi.
His native curiosity and wanderlust took Zakariya on an extended two-year journey through Europe in the mid-1960's. Living by his wits and working at whatever odd job came his way, he occasionally found himself restoring houses and even performing with a British comedy troupe. While in London, Zakariya spent every spare moment in the Oriental Reading Room of the British Museum, studying historical calligraphy texts.
The rules have changed now, but in those days, he recalls, "you could put something that was actually made within 100 years of the Prophet's lifetime right in front of you and touch it, smell it. You could hold it up to see how the light came through it. I learned a great deal about [ink and paper] from handling these things."
Zakariya returned to California in 1968. Hired by an antiques dealer in West Hollywood, he restored and built reproductions of antiques. "I learned to be a fabulous maker of oddball stuff, like sundials and astrolabes," Zakariya says. His many creations, from reproductions of Renaissance scientific and musical instruments to illuminated manuscripts and celestial globes, led to what he describes as his "one brush with fame," when he was named Scripps College's artist-in-residence in 1970.
Those early years sharpened Zakariya's skills and revealed his exceptional, and as yet untutored, artistic talent. However, it was not until he moved to Washington, DC. in 1972 that he decided to pursue the art of calligraphy as "a serious business." In the following eight years, Zakariya built an impressive reputation and notched up several major accomplishments. He completed his first functioning astrolabe - one of his "dream projects" - and published two books, The Calligraphy of Islam: Reflections on the State of the Art and Observations on Islamic Calligraphy.
Professor Walter Denny, an Islamic art historian at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, reviewed The Calligraphy of Islam back in 1980. "This is the first American book I know that has ever been published on calligraphy as art," he recalls. "As far as I can tell, it is the first book published in modern times by an Islamic calligrapher about his work in any language other than Arabic. I was really quite impressed by the book. I had no idea [the author] was an American."
Yet while critics praised his work, by 1980 Zakariya felt that his calligraphy had reached a standstill. "You should be able to see improvement in your work from piece to piece until you are too old to see," Zakariya says, recalling how frustrated he was at that time.
Then fate intervened. Unbeknownst to him, Dr. Esin Atil, historian of Islamic art at the Smithsonian Institution's Freer Gallery of Art in Washington, sent samples of Zakariya's calligraphy to the Research Center for Islamic History, Art and Culture in Istanbul.
Well acquainted with Zakariya and his work, Atil was convinced that he was "one of the best artists. He not only composes in a traditional manner, using a dozen or more types of script; he does his own illumination, which is extraordinary. Mohamed was the person who started [Islamic calligraphy] in this country way before anyone else showed interest in it."
Dr. Ekmeleddin Ihsanoğlu, director of the Research Center, recalls that Zakariya's early works "reflected his skill and enthusiasm. However, it was apparent that they were the product of a calligrapher who had not received proper instruction." He agreed to accept Zakariya at the Center as a student - if Zakariya was willing to forget everything he had previously learned and start again from the beginning. The challenge was eagerly accepted.
In 1982, Zakariya began a correspondence course with Turkish master calligrapher Hasan Çelebi. "Instruction by correspondence was a very difficult task," Çelebi says. Traditionally, "the teaching of calligraphy requires that teacher and student should be together and should practice visually."
Nonetheless, the lessons, known in Turkish as meşks, were sent back and forth between Zakariya's Arlington, Virginia, home and the Research Center in Istanbul. He studied the thulth and naskh scripts with Çelebi, as well as the nasta'liq script with noted calligrapher Ali Alparslan. Zakariya explains that lessons teach one "how to see, rather than how to work." By reviewing and copying the works of great masters, he says, "one side effect of lessons is that you become a real connoisseur of good calligraphy."
Heath Lowry, director of the Institute of Turkish Studies in Washington, occasionally carried Zakariya's lessons to Çelebi when he traveled to Istanbul. "I don't know of any other Western calligrapher who has gone through a formation like his," Lowry notes. As Zakariya's own work developed, Lowry says, "it was inevitable that it would begin pointing him more and more in the direction of Istanbul. The role of the Turks as the last great calligraphers is and continues to be recognized throughout the Islamic world."
Zakariya devoted himself to his studies with his customary scholarly zeal. The lessons began with individual letters of the alphabet. As he improved, he was given two-letter combinations, and finally, years later, whole sentences to work on. Just as a musician practices scales and exercises, so must a calligrapher repeat his writing exercises again and again to acquire the precision and sureness essential to the art of beautiful writing. One seventh-century practitioner wrote that "calligraphy is hidden in the teaching of a master. Its constancy is maintained by much practice and its continuity is contingent on the religion of Islam."
"I could have become a surgeon several times over in the amount of time it took me to become a calligrapher," Zakariya says. With the exception of one month in 1984, when he was able to travel to Istanbul and study daily with his teachers, his lessons continue to this day through the mail.
In the 1980's, while he continued to labor as a novice under the watchful, albeit longdistance, scrutiny of his teachers, Zakariya's growing mastery of both calligraphy and the moribund art of astrolabe-making attracted widespread attention. He began to exhibit his calligraphy both in the United States and abroad. In 1983, he traveled for the first time to the Arabian Gulf to exhibit his work in Qatar and teach at the Doha Free Art School.
Several years later, in 1986, under the auspices of the United States Information Agency, Zakariya traveled for the second time to the Gulf region. Visiting Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar, Oman and Abu Dhabi, he both lectured and displayed his calligraphy. In that same year he also won his first calligraphy prize, in a competition sponsored by the Research Center in Istanbul. It was to be the first of many such awards.
In June 1990, a two-year-long, ten-state tour of his work, sponsored by the American-Arab Affairs Council, made its last stop in Minneapolis. Since then, he has designed and produced nine large calligraphy panels, using texts from the Qur'an and from poetry, for the exhibition "Images of Paradise in Islamic Art," which is scheduled to travel to five states by the middle of this year.
During that period, between his lessons and frequent exhibitions, Zakariya was hard at work reviving the ancient art of making astrolabes. Said to be the invention of the Greek astronomer Hipparchos of Nicaea in the second century BC, the astrolabe - an engraved brass plate on which brass discs and pointers rotate — is in effect an analogue computer which simulates the apparent rotation of the stars around the celestial pole. Ptolemy of Alexandria described the instrument's principles in his Planispherium, which was translated into Arabic in Baghdad in the ninth century, and Arab astronomers of the following century refined the astrolabe and used it to make extraordinary scientific advances (See Aramco World, March-April 1991, May-June 1982).
Called "the mathematical jewel," the astrolabe can be used for navigation and surveying, for telling the exact time of day or night - essential for fixing the times of Muslims' daily prayers - as an accurate calendar for predicting the seasons, and as a calculator to solve many astronomical problems. Such a wealth of knowledge and precision was, and still is, required to build an astrolabe that the skill was often passed from father to son, as in the case of 12th-century artisans Hamad ibn Mahmud al-Isfahani and his son Muhammad.
Over the centuries, Zakariya says, many of the undocumented techniques used to make astrolabes, such as the engraving process, were lost. Searching through old Arabic manuscripts, however, he managed to unearth the basic mathematical and scientific principles for making them.
"I think I am the only person who makes astrolabes consistently," Zakariya says, and it is little wonder. Depending upon the size and the complexity of its functions, an astrolabe can take from three to six months to complete. With as many as nine parts that move in relation to each other, the design requires extensive geometrical calculations and precision engraving with specially designed tools.
Today one of Zakariya's astrolabes, as well as a celestial sphere from his workshop, are on display in the Aramco Exhibit in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia. Another hangs in the terminal of the King Abdul Aziz International Airport in Jiddah. Both the National Museum in Doha, Qatar, and the Time Museum in Rockford, Illinois, house his elaborate sundials.
Over the past few years, Zakariya has found himself focusing less on his instruments and machine work and more on his calligraphy, "a living and growing culture. It is so interesting and overwhelming that it becomes something you can't do without," he explains. "With me, it has pushed out astrolabes and machine-shop work almost entirely. When I do break the connection and go back to the shop, it's very hard for the first few days. I want to get that pen in my hand again."
From carving his own pens to making his own ink and paper and illuminating his texts, Zakariya has become a traditional Islamic calligrapher in every sense of the word. He is, according to Denny, "a genuine hattat" - Turkish for calligrapher. "Mohamed sees himself as being able to work both in the style of the Ottoman and Iraqi 19th-century calligraphers. I am just amazed that he can work in all the major script styles. He can do everything a hattat was always supposed to do."
Zakariya "has been trained precisely and rigorously in ancient forms," according to Vicki Halper, assistant curator of modern art at the Seattle Museum. Halper worked with Zakariya during a 1990 exhibit at the Renwick Gallery in Washington, which featured his work along with that of three other contemporary calligraphers. Zakariya, she explains, "particularly identifies himself with the tradition because he works completely within it. He is not trying to push the boundaries of his craft into contemporary American idiom."
To the contrary: His work honors and revitalizes the past. Zakariya's success as a calligrapher is reflected in his knowledge of the Qur'an and classic Arabic literature, and in his mastery of the many details and ancillary crafts of the art of calligraphy.
Several years ago, this success was recognized when he became the first American to receive an icazet, or diploma, from the Research Center in Istanbul. A tradition that dates back to the 15th-century, the icazet is only awarded to those calligraphers capable of duplicating the works of the masters, and who have demonstrated as well that they can write a well-known Qur'anic text or Islamic saying on their own.
On May 23, 1988, in the historic 19th-century Yıldız Palace overlooking the Bosporus, Hasan Çelebi presented Zakariya with his icazet, conferring upon him the right to sign his own works and to teach students. Underscoring his student's unique talent, Çelebi noted that "even among Turkish calligraphers, there are not many who both write and illuminate their work. Zakariya does. I am proud to know that he is ably representing this branch of Islamic art in the United States." Research Center director Ihsanoglu added: "It has been a wonderful experience for us to be involved in the making of a great artist who, as far as we know, is the first American calligrapher."
Today, like the jack-of-all-trades he professes to be, Zakariya is consumed with both his work and his hobbies. When he isn't busy writing a book - in Arabic - on calligraphy, retooling his machines for some future project, or preparing his calligraphic works for exhibitions around the country, he can be found reading old Islamic law books - for fun - or teaching himself how to play the baritone horn.
In addition, he remains both a devoted student and a dedicated teacher of calligraphy. "The Turks say that when you are learning calligraphy, it is the happiest period of your life," he says. As his own lessons continue and grow harder, he has taken on six students of his own.
Teaching calligraphy face to face, master to student, he explains, is "the old Islamic method of transferring this knowledge. The axiom is usually, 'If you can't do it, teach it.' But it's exactly the opposite with calligraphy: 'Don't teach it unless you can do it.'" Unquestionably, Mohamed Zakariya does it very well.
This article appeared on pages 10-17 of the January/February 1992 print edition of Saudi Aramco World. More about the Calligrapher http://www.zakariya.net. Photograph © Fedai Sait/Istanbul and Pedalize (inside view of Söğütlü Mosque in Trabzon/Turkey)
"In the name of God the Compassionate, the Merciful!"
These are some of the most frequently used words in the Arabic language. The Holy Koran—the word of God as revealed to Muhammad—begins with them, and so does every Surah, or chapter, but one. Muslims say these words before beginning any undertaking, before eating, before opening a book and, of course, before beginning to pray. They write them at the heads of letters, inscribe them on coins and print them at the beginning of chapters in books. The Prophet Muhammad said, "He who writes Bismillah ('In the name of God') beautifully obtains innumerable blessings."
These words are so important—not only to every Arabic speaker but to Muslims everywhere—that it is hardly surprising that over the centuries they have come to be written in very special ways. Calligraphy—literally "beautiful writing"—is an Arab art, and in writing the Bismillah and a few other phrases, particularly those invoking the name of God, calligraphers surpassed themselves: such phrases, for example, as In sha'Allah, "God willing;" Ma sha' Allah, "As God wills;" Huwa Allah, "He is God;" and Al-hamdu li-llah, "God be praised." Perhaps as important as the Bismillah in calligraphy is the Profession of Faith, or the Shahada: La ilaha ilia Allah, Muhammad Rasul Allah: "There is no God but God, Muhammad is His Messenger."
Calligraphers also devoted great efforts to writing and elaborately decorating the name of God when it stood alone. Others concentrated on the name of the Prophet or sometimes simply his title, Rasul, "Messenger," which can be seen carved on one of the columns of the very ancient mosque in Kairouan, Tunisia (Aramco World, Jan-Feb., 1967).
How did decorative writing come to achieve such importance in religion and art? As is generally known in the West today, figurative art—especially sculpture with its connotation of idolatry—was forbidden to Muslims, and so in compensation the Islamic world raised architecture and the applied arts to a very high level of perfection. Ceramics, glass, metal-work, wood and stone carving, carpets, textiles and embroideries were all elaborately developed. But the art of arts was undoubtedly calligraphy (Aramco World, May-June, 1976).
There were many reasons for this. First, of course, calligraphy was inextricably bound up with the Koran, which many pious Muslims did—and still do—copy by hand at least once in their lives. It was also a skill available to anyone, and since many people, including women, could and did write, interest in penmanship was high and it was much cultivated. Many great men of the Muslim world, as well as professional calligraphers, were famous for the beauty of their handwriting. Lastly, calligraphy was also intimately involved with all the other arts. Look carefully and you will frequently see an inscription on a sword blade or a mosque lamp, painted on a bowl, woven into a prayer carpet or, in relief, around a door or minaret. And here again, one of the favourite phrases is Bismillah al-Rahman al-Rahim.
At the time of the Prophet, Arabic writing was predominantly of a square formal type which later developed into what is known as Kufic. Soon, however, as it became necessary to have a quicker cursive script, nashki evolved, and the older Kufic came more and more to be used only for copying the Koran and for monumental decoration, except in the conservative lands of North Africa, where it was retained for general uses.
As Islam spread, so too did calligraphy. Soon it could be found everywhere, not just in terms of geography, but in new and imaginative forms in art and architecture. Not content with leaving their favorite words running along the line of a page, artists of the Muslim world began to twist them into circles or squares—small to fit a plate or large to decorate a mosque wall. From Kufa in Iraq and from the great pottery centers of Iran came 9th- and 10th-century dishes with the Bismillah shaped like a bird or drawn with one splendid swirl of a brush—so that even to eyes familiar with Arabic script it seems almost illegible. In one particularly beautiful example of the art a bird, whose body is composed of the word baraka, "blessing," holds the word hamd, or "praise," in its beak.
The mosque architecture of Iran and Central Asia also gave calligraphy a new dimension—literally. There, architects wrapped vast raised inscriptions many feet high around the domes of mosques and up the minarets, and on the walls and at the gates they made what looked like labyrinths in turquoise, blue, yellow, black and white tiles.
Once again, these inscriptions might be made up of the name of God, the name of the Prophet, the Shahada, or even a Surah of the Koran repeated over and over again in an infinitely elaborate pattern.
Versions of these can be seen today outside many mosques in Iran, including modern ones. For those who know Arabic, part of the pleasure of gazing upon them undoubtedly comes from the "crossword puzzle" element—staring at an apparently abstract arrangement of colors until the words suddenly leap out, or slowly tracing the inscription letter by letter until the sense becomes clear. Small maze-like inscriptions carved in stone or wood are found everywhere in the Muslim world.
The best place for trying calligraphic innovations, however, was on paper. There are marvelous examples from all over the Muslim world, but the Bismillah, elaborately written in countless different shapes, was especially popular in Iraq, Syria, North Africa and Turkey. The sacred words were given a wide variety of forms. Vases, ewers, mosque lamps and candelabra were thought especially suitable and they are represented over and over again in calligraphy, sometimes using one phrase, sometimes another. Kufic compositions shaped like mosques, or even the outline of one of the holy Cities—Mecca or Medina—were particularly popular.
Another favorite form was an apple or pear with its leaves. This was sometimes used for a holy text, sometimes for genealogical trees, of which a particularly fine example is the family tree of the Sa'ud dynasty, which can be seen today framed in homes, offices and schools all over Saudi Arabia. In this design the male issue of the line is represented by an apple containing the appropriate name, and the female issue by a pear.
From fruit it was a relatively short step to animals. As mentioned earlier, birds were particular favorites. Cranes or storks were the most common, but in Tunisia there are also examples of peacocks and parrots painted on glass and in Iraq pheasants or perhaps quail. Lions were not unknown and occasionally an exceptionally imaginative calligrapher would produce al-Buraq, the winged horse on which, according to tradition, Muhammad made the Mi'raj, or Night Journey from Medina to Jerusalem, and thence to Heaven.
Of course these are by no means the only shapes. Sometimes a Surah of the Koran or other pious phrases would be woven into the form of a boat with the waw's—the conjunction "and" in Arabic—elongated into the oars. Yet another design was the star and crescent of Islam. In one example the star is the Bismillah and the crescent moon the Shahada.
One style was particularly Turkish and derived from the Tughra, or signature of an Ottoman sultan, which was made extremely elaborate to avoid forgeries. The same manner was adopted for the Bismillah, sometimes against a background of flowers.
But these elaborate decorative compositions were not always used exclusively for sacred texts. In Turkey, where calligraphy was particularly popular, a favorite form was a poem of unrequited love written in the shape of an eye weeping tears. All kinds of visual puns of this kind were possible.
Although intricate calligraphy is not practiced as widely in today's Muslim world as it has been during other periods over the last 1,000 years, it is by no means dead as an art form. It was not uncommon as an educated amusement until early in this century, when it declined with the adyent of printing. Now, happily, it is being revived by a number of young artists who are interested in traditional calligraphy. Undoubtedly, as the Middle East resumes its important role on the world stage, the interest will continue to grow. Perhaps the situation can best be summed up by a modernistic piece of calligraphy in the shape of the Hand of Fatimah, which was designed as a greeting card by Lebanese artist Mouna Bassili Sehnaoui a few years ago. It reads Ma sha' Allah, "As God wills."