Ottoman Inkwell

An Ottoman Courtly Inkwell, Owned by head of the Imperial Chancery Muhammad Khalifa, Signed Rumi, Dated 1120 AH / 1708 AD The poem in Ottoman Turkish at the bottom in naskh script reads:

“Dil-i mahzumu bir kez küşad etsen olmaz mı
Dutalım düşmenin oldum müdara kılsan olmaz mı
Lutf ü ihsan ü mürüvvet cümle kamilden gelür
Her mazarrat kim gelür alemde cahilden gelür”

(Would you not cheer my heart for once?
Even if I was your enemy, could you not be kind?
Favor, benevolence, generosity all come from the dignified
All that is evil comes from the ignorant)

The dedication in Arabic at the bottom in naskh script reads:
Sahib al-hadha al-muhbara ser-zumra-i khulafa al-kuttab Muhammad Khalifa li-ma‘dan al-kuttab Sana 1120
(The owner of this inkwell is the chief of khalifas of scribes Muhammad Khalifa to the heart of scribes)

The Arabic inscription inside the lid in naskh script reads:
“Qala ‘alayh al-salām al-farῑza ba‘d al-…. Wa ba‘d al-maktūbun. Wa qāla ‘Ali karram Allāhu wajhahu ‘alaikum bi husn al-khatt fa innahu min mafātih al-rizq”
(The Prophet said “the duty, following the … and following the written”. And ‘Ali, may God be pleased with him, said “Practise calligraphy since it is one of the keys of livelihood”)

The Poem in naskh script on the inkwell reads:
“Zihi ziba hoş muhbere-i ala
Kim verir ehl-i dile seyri cila
Guya bir dilber-i pakizedir
Seyr iden küttabı eyler mübtela
Tarz-ı Şa‘bandır bu ra‘na tarz-ı pak
Zahir olursa İbn-i Şa‘bandır seza –
Fi Üsküdar”

(What a beautiful, pleasing inkwell this is
Its sight gives pleasure to men of taste…
As if it was a charming beauty,
Every scribe who views it falls in love with it.
This pure form is the style of Sha‘ban,
Therefore it should appear as Sha‘ban’s son (İbn-i Şa‘ban)
In (the district of) Üsküdar (Istanbul).

Rumi is recorded as a master silversmith who produced the earliest dated Ottoman silver inkwells and pencases. He was active during the reigns of Sultan Ahmed II (r. 1691-1695), Sultan Mustafa II (r. 1695-1703) and Sultan Ahmed III (r. 1703-1730). The only comparable inkwell known to us is in the Mesud Hakgüden Collection in Istanbul. Signed by the same artist, Rumi, and dated 1113 AH / 1701 AD. See: Garo Kürkman, Osmanlı Gümüş Damgaları, Istanbul, 1996, p. 80, 81.

Ottoman Inkwell