TR

ICAP

EXHIBITIONS
OVERSEAS EXHIBITIONS

SULTANS OF CALLIGRAPHY

The Islamic culture and civilization is based on the understanding of "Love for the sake of creation." According to the mystic and philosopher Ibn Arabi, the essence of creation is love. This had led to Islamic architecture, music, philosophy, literature, fine arts, and daily life being centered around love.

In Islamic philosophy, Allah created the world and humankind as manifestations of love. Islamic artists base their works around love, with the hope of reaching Allah and obtaining his approval. Islamic calligraphy is one of these art forms. Originating from Arabic script, it later transformed into "Islamic Calligraphy," the shared script of the Muslim world and an independent art form in itself. One of the most important branches of Islamic art, calligraphy has left a deep cultural mark on various Muslim communities for centuries.

It has been defined as the aesthetic and elegant drawing of letters while adhering to specific styles. Its most exquisite examples can be found in the Quran itself and in hadits, prayer journals, scientific and literary works, individuals verses of the Quran, scripts, shrines (mihrabs), epitaphs inside mosques, and official writings such as royal signatures (tuğra) and edicts (ferman).

Baghdad, having been the center of calligraphy for 5 centuries, relinquished its title to Istanbul upon the latter’s conquest by the Ottomans. Istanbul, having transformed into a cultural, scientific and commercial hub after its conquest, became a fertile ground for the formation and development of a distinctive Ottoman calligraphy art form. Calligraphy, taught through an apprenticeship system, survived into the present by constantly reinventing itself.

As in any other Islamic art forms among the Ottomans, calligraphy was held in higher high esteem when compared to other art forms, with calligraphy artists especially revered. Turkey, with its emphasis and rich heritage of calligraphy and associated arts, possesses 3/4 of all written Islamic works.

Mirroring their competency in music and poetry, Ottoman sultans also had a significant expertise in the art form. The works of Sultans and state officials give us a glimpse of their personal sensibilities and their approach to statesmanship. Architecture, music, poetry, and calligraphy are art forms that reflect the character of the Ottoman civilization.

Architecture is shaped by splendor, vastness, peace and tranquility: Ottoman architecture lifts the individual by abstaining from overbearing forms. Its music engulfs the individual in a sea of tranquility and vastness: The joy and melancholy present in Classical Turkish music is simultaneously refreshing and grounding. It cleanses and treats the soul. Poetry acts as a vessel to give voice to the soul and the love for life. Love exists in every form and for eternity. Calligraphy is the combination and synthesis of content with beauty, the tangible with the intangible that fills both the eye and the heart as well. Caligraphy melts the spoken word and substance in the same pot. You touch its writing, hear its voice, and understand its message. All presented in an aesthetic and elegant form.

This collection is made up of works that have been exhibited on April 12, 2013 at Istanbul’s Hagia Sophia Museum and April 18, 2013 at Ankara, as part of the Holy Birth Week. We would like to express our deepest thanks for the individuals, institutions and organizations that helped us realize this exhibition and the publication of the associated book.