Extremely Fine Ottoman Qur'an Signed Mehmed Hifzi Armudcuzade

Turkey - Signed: Mehmed Hifzi Armudcuzade - Dated: 1081 AH / 1670 AD - Dimensions: 20.5 x 13 cm

Made up of individually cut sections fitted into a framework, the design based on a central sixpointed star with radiating polygons, hexagons and half-stars carved of light and dark woods including ebony inlaid with thin ivory strips and carved ivory plaques, with late 19th -early 20th century European fruitwood frame. The Mamluks of Egypt and Syria were a powerful dynasty of Turkic slave soldiers who rose to power in the thirteenth century. It was the Mamluks who drove back the Mongol invaders and banished the Crusaders from the Holy Land. Their reputation in battle was matched by their energy as builders and patrons of the arts. Under Mamluk patronage, Cairo was transformed by elaborate domes and minarets, creating one of the most beautiful skylines in the world. Mamluk woodworkers – wood is a precious material in Egypt- excelled in the art of inlaying ivory into furniture destined for buildings commissioned by sultans and amirs. Geometrical designs were favoured for their bold symmetry and formal strength. This panel most likely came from a door or a minbar. It is assembled like a mosaic using individually carved segments, a technique that requires great patience and skill as well as knowledge of geometry and mathematics. The central star and each of the polygonal elements has been cut and carved separately and then inlaid with ivory filaments which act to highlight and define the design. The present panel can be compared with the Qur'an box in the Sultan Hasan Mosque in Cairo, completed in 1359 AD. Both have ivory polygons set against wood geometry. Both incorparate small lozenges containing palmettes, similarly executed border treatment and carved arabesque units.

Provenance: Private UK Collection

Extremely Fine Ottoman Qur'an Signed Mehmed Hifzi Armudcuzademagnifing glass


Turkey, Dimensions: 20 x 12 cm.

Manuscript on cream paper, 243 ff. plus 3 fly-leaves, each folio with 17 lines of neat black nas-ta’liq
script arranged in two columns with double gold intercolumnar rule, headings in gold and contained
in clouds reserved against green or red-hatched ground. Some panels of text with borders of gold and polychrome scrolling vine, some folios with small panels with small clouds-bands framing text, first folio with elegant gold and polychrome illuminated headpiece, preceding folio with illuminated medallion with royal dedication to Sultan Mehmed II, first and final fly-leaves with later owner’s notes and stamps including one of his son Sultan Bayazid II’s imperial seals. In extremely fine Qajar lacquer binding commissioned by the Qajar prince Muhammad Qasim Khan, signed by the artist Lutf ‘Ali Shirazi and dated 1287 AH /1870 AD.

The Royal Dedication in the gold medallion on fol. 1a:

برسم خزانة السلطان الاعظام مالك رقاب الامم ابو المظفر سلطان محمد خان بن مراد خان ابدت

Bi rasm khizānat al-Sultān al-A‘zam Mālik Riqāb al-Umam Abu al-Muzaffar Sultān Mehemmed Khān bin Murād Khān Abbida Saltanatahu

(On the order of the treasury of the greatest Sultan, the ruler of the Necks of Nations, the Father of the Victorious, Sultan Mehmed Khan son of Murad Khan, may his reign be Eternal)

The illuminated medallion at the beginning of this manuscript contains the royal dedication above.
A known bibliophile, the legacy of the Sultan’s love for books resulted in ninety surviving manuscripts dedicated to him – a far greater number than are associated with any other Muslim imperial patron. Of these ninety, twenty are on philosophy and a further five on logic. Ottoman art-historians Raby and Tanindi mention that Mehmed II’s bibliophilia was not a constant phenomenon and that changes in the intensity of
his demand fits well with the periods when he rested from campaign and spent his time in cultural pursuits (Julian Raby and Zeren Tanindi, Turkish Bookbinding in the 15th Century, London 1993, p. 62). For this reason, the mid-1460s was a period of intense artistic creativity.

The illumination of the medallion and the headpiece is typical of mid-15th century Ottoman palace workshops (naqqashkanah), and appears to draw influence from Timurid/Herati manuscripts of the same period. The illumination, with the use of black and bold colours as well as the open format in the arrangement and execution of the design, and indeed is very similar to the heading of an extraordinary Timurid Qur’an in the Khalili Collection (David James, After Timur, Oxford 1992, no.5, pp. 28-33).

The Qajar lacquer binding is of extraordinary quality and bears the signature of the artist Lutf ‘Ali Shirazi and the date 1287 AH / 1870 AD. An additional note on the back cover of the binding, just above the signature, states that the binding of the manuscript was renewed on the order of the above- mentioned Qajar Prince Muhammad Qasim Khan. The juxtaposition of the inscription against the floral background is truly masterful. For mention of the artist Lutf ‘Ali Shirazi please see Muhammad Ali Karimzadah Tabrizi, The Lives and Art of Old Painters of Iran, London, 1990, pp. 561-568, also see Muhammad Ali Karimzadah Tabrizi, Qalamdan, London, 2000, p. 323.

The imperial provenance of this manuscript does not end with Sultan Mehmed II. The last page of the manuscript bears the imperial seal of his son Bayazid II (r. 1481-1512). The imperial library was inventoried under Sultan Bayazid II, and a number of the manuscripts that bear his seal also have an inscription in the Bayazid’s own hand, giving titles and subjects of the works.

The Imperial Seal of Sultan Bayazid II on the last page:

بايزيد بن محمد المظفر دائما

“Bāyazid bin Mehmed al-Muzaffar Dāiman” (Bayazid, son of Mehmed, the always victorious)

The manuscript subsequently left Turkey, finding its way to Persia, possibly as a royal or diplomatic gift, a common practise between muslim courts. The manuscript eventually ended up in the possession of the Qajar royal family. We know this because of the extraordinary inscription on the later lacquered
binding, stating that the binding of the manuscript was renewed in 1287 AH / 1870 AD, on the order of the Qajar Prince Muhammad Qasim Khan, son of Fulana Bagum, descendant of Fath Ali Shah (r. 1797-1834) (Please see Yilmaz Oztuna, Muslim Dynasties, 1996, p. 798). The extremely fine lacquered decoration of the binding indicates the importance given to the manuscript by its Qajar owner Muhammad Qasim Khan. The exit stamp of Persian border control on the first page (fol. 1a), confirms that the manuscript left Iran in 1315 AH / 1897 AD. The inspection seal reads: “Taftīsh shud, 1315” (Inspected, 1897).


Sultan Mehmed II: Commissioned for the imperial Treasury of Sultan Mehmed II (r. 1451-1481), royal dedication in illuminated medallion on the first page: Bi rasm khizāna al-Sultān al-A‘zam Mālik Riqāb al-Umam Abū al-Muzaffar Sultān Mehemmed Khān bin Murād Khān Abbid Saltanatahu [On the order of the treasury of the greatest Sultan, the ruler of the Necks of Nations, the Father of the Victorious, Sultan Mehmed Khan son of Murad Khan, may his reign be Perpetuated]

Sultan Bayazid II (r. 1481-1512): His imperial seal is on the last page.

Qajar Prince Muhammad Qasim Khan: A note on the lacquered binding states that the binding of the manuscript was renewed in 1287 AH / 1870 AD, on the order of the Qajar Prince Muhammad Qasim Khan, son of Fulana Bagum, descendant of Fath Ali Shah (r. 1797- 1834) (Please see Yilmaz Oztuna, Muslim Dynasties, 1996, p. 798).

It has been in a Qajar family collection in London since then.




This is a rare calligraphy by Mir Ali Heravi who also signed his name as Ali al-Husayni. According to David Roxburgh the best known example of this application is the anthology of poetry, made in 1524, for vizier Khawaja Malik Ahmad, who was governor of Herat under Shah Ismail. In Roxburgh’s words: “The anthology bears the signatures of several masters including Ali al-Husayni (that is, Mir Ali), Muhammad Qasim b Shadishah and Muhammad Khandan”. Please see: David Roxburgh, The Persian Album, Yale University Press, 2005, p. 179. An illustrated copy of the Panj Ganjof Abd al-Rahman Jami, similarly signed Ali al-Husayniis in the Golestan Palace Library (inv. no. 709). A Gulistan copied in 975 (1567/68) and signed Mir Ali al-Husayni (Mir Ali al-Husayni al-Katib al-Sultani) in Bukhara is in the British Library (BL Or 5302). It includes six Bukhara-style paintings which were commissioned on Akbar's request. 

Mir ‘Ali al-Heravi was one of the greatest masters of Persian calligraphy. He learned his trade from Zayn al-din Mahmud and Sultan 'Ali Mashhadi, and worked at the court of the Timurid Sultan Husayn Mirza. He lived there until the capture of the city by the Uzbeks in 1528-29, when he, together with other artists, were taken to Bukhara. He was put in the charge of Prince ‘Abd al-‘Aziz Khan and worked in the Royal Library. After some sixteen years, he died in Herat. His recorded works are dated between 914 AH/1508-09 AD and 948 AH/1541-42 AD (Mehdi Bayani 1959, pp.126-31). He passed away in 1544.

Provenance: Private UK Collection 




Turkey, Signed: Ismail al-Zuhdi (d. 1731), Dated: 1138 AH/1725 AD, Dimensions: 25 x 16.8 cm (folded)

An inscription (fol. 1a) states that the album was in the library of Mehmed Tahir Bey (d. 1925) of Bursa, and it was presented by him as a gift in 23 June 1326 AH / 1907 AD. The name of the recipient is not mentioned. Mehmed Tahir Bey, born in 1861, served as a member of the Ottoman parliament between 1907-1912. Arabic manuscript on paper, composed of five panels, with one line of large, sharp and crystalline thuluth script and four lines of extremely fine naskh script beneath, verses separated by foliate gold roundels, polychrome vegetal panels to the sides of the text, outer marbled borders, the final panel with two lines of text in large thuluth script, brown leather boards with gilt knotted motifs and scroll work borders. The text opens with the first verse of the Qur’an (Bismillah) and consists of sayings (hadiths) of Prophet Muhammad. In the colophon line the calligrapher pays homage to the late 15th, early 16th century master calligrapher Sheikh Hamdullah (d. 1520).

Calligrapher Ismail al-Zuhdi the Elder (d.1731)

Ismail al-Zuhdi studied under both Yedikuleli Seyyid 'Abdullah, whilst working as a cobbler, and Anbarizade Dervish Ali. The latter, however, died before granting Ismail Zuhdi with his diploma (ijazat), so he asked Suyolcuzade Mehmed Necib to award it in his place. Sadly, few examples of Ismail Zuhdi's calligraphy exists, and it is said that, according to the Ottoman historian Mustakimzade Suleyman Sadeddin Efendi, "... had he lived longer, he would have been among the 'miracle masters' of calligraphy" (cited in Nabil F. Safwat, Understanding Calligraphy - The Ottoman Contribution, Part One, London, 2014, p.216). He was celebrated for his mastery in imitating the style of old masters. Beside his works on paper he worked on monumental commemorative inscriptions. His best-known monumental calligraphy is located above the main entrance of the ancient Byzantine walls of Istanbul, which were restored on Sultan Ahmed III’s (r. 1703-1730) order, in 1727. His works on paper are very rare. A calligraphic panel by Ismail Zuhdi comprising four lines of bold thuluth is in the Collection of Cengiz Çetindogan (ibid., p.216-7, no. 36). This album displays his mastery in both thuluth and naskh scripts and in both his remarkable skill for interpreting the esteemed style of the late 15th - early 16th century Ottoman master calligrapher Sheikh Hamdullah Efendi (d. 1520). He passed away in 1731 and was buried in Uskudar, close to the Miskinler dervish-lodge. The inscription on his tombstone was prepared by calligrapher Katipzade Mustafa Efendi.

Provenance: Private UK Collection


Finely Illuminated Ottoman Qur'an Section (Juzz)

Turkey - Dated 1231AH/1815AD - Height: 24 cm - Width: 16.5 cm

The present Qur’anic juzz is written in exteremely fine, sharp and precise naskh script indicating the level of stylistic perfection naskh achieved during the 19th century. The quality of both the calligraphy and illumination indicate royal patronage. The juzz includes the following suras (chapters) from the Qur’an: al-Naba, al-Nazi‘at, al-Takvir, al-Infitar, al-Mutaffifin, al-Ishiqaq, al-Buruj, al-Tariq, al-A‘la, al-Ghashiya, al-Fajr, al-Balad, al-Shams, al-Layl, al-Duha, al-Inshirah, al-Tin, al-‘Alaq, al-Qadr, al-Bayyina, al-Zilzal, al-‘Adiyat, al-Qari‘a, al-Takathur, al-‘Asr, al-Humaza, al-Fil, al-Quraysh, al-Ma‘un, al-Kawthar, al-Kafirun, al-Nasr, al-Tabbat, al-Ihlas, al-Falak, al-Nas. The quality both of the calligraphy and the rococo illumination indicates that this manuscript was almost certainly a royal commission. The illuminator of this manuscript is almost certainly responsible for the decoration of a primer prepared to teach reading and writing to the children of the Imperial family and datable to the 18th century (Elifba cuzu, Topkapi Palace Museum, EH 436). According to Nurhan Atasoy “This work’s decorations are in the full-blown Ottoman rococo style”. The bouquets of flowers tied up with ribbons and the floral vase with a rather unusual shape are almost identical to those found in this Qur’an section. See N. Atasoy, A Garden for the Sultan: Gardens and Flowers in the Ottoman Culture, 2002, pp. 190-191 and 194, illustrations. nos. 298-303. Also see: Yildiz Demiriz, Osmanli Kitap Sanatinda Naturalist Uslupta Cicekler, Istanbul, 1986, pp. 35-38. 

Provenance: Private UK collection

Finely Illuminated Ottoman Qur'an Section (Juzz)magnifing glass


Timurid, Dated 903 AH / 1497 AD

The present calligraphy is a rare and important work by Timurid vizier Abdallah al-Marwarid. It demonstrates Abdallah’s mastery in thuluthnaskh and riqa‘scripts. A comparable calligraphy signed by Abdallah al-Marwarid, dated 921 AH / 1515AD, is published in Abolala Soudavar’s Art of the Persian Courts, Art and History Trust Collection, Rizzoli, New York, 1992, p. 157  

Abdallah al-Marwarid (d. 1516)

Timurid court official, poet, scribe, and musician. His father, Muhammad Marwarid, had moved to Herat from Kirman during the reign of Abu Said (855-73/1451-69) and later became that ruler’s vizier. Subsequently he performed the same function for Husayn Bayqara until retiring to become custodian at the shrine of Abdallah Ansari. Muhammad married the daughter of another Timurid vizier, Muzaffar Sha‘bān- kara of Qarabagh (d.1486). Abdallāh Marwarid was a person of many talents. He enjoyed a high reputation as performer on the musical instrument qanun and composed poetry under thepenname (takhallus)Bayānī. He wrote a narrative poem, Khusrau u Shirin and various shorter works which were collected into a dīvān entitled Munis al-Ahbab. Abdallah was a close associate of Husayn Bayqara and served that ruler in various capacities. Shortly after the latter’s accession to the throne in 1470 Abdallah was appointed sadr and served in that capacity for several years. Later he composed official letters and documents and became the keeper of the royal seal. His contemporaries state that he displayed a remarkable aptitude for epistolary composition and was a skillful scribe particularly in the taʿliq script used for correspondence. Abdallah also compiled an insha manual consisting of documents and letters in various styles. During the vizierate of Qavam-al-din Nizam-al-mulk (1486-98), Abdallah withdrew from public life for several years. Writing in 1490-91, Ali Shir Nava’i remarks that Abdallah had resigned his court position and was living in retirement. Following the demise of Qavam-al-din, Abdallah returned to Husayn Bayqara’s service with the rank of amir and was given the privilege of being the first of the amirs to affix his seal on documents, an honor previously accorded to Ali Shir Nava’i. During this period Abdallah became one of Husayn Bayqara’s closest associates. He was, for example, entrusted with ministering to the dying Ali Shir in 1500. He passed away in 1516.

Provenance: Private UK Collection 



Nasta'liq Quatrain Signed Osman Al-uwaisi Al-Qarani

Turkey - End of 17th, early 18th Century - Height: 22 cm - Width: 15.3 cm

Persian quatrain in elegant nas-ta'liq script


Sayyid Osman al-Uwaisi b. Sayyid Muhammad Said b. Osman, better known as Osman al-Uwaisi studied calligraphy under the supervision of master Dedezade Mehmed Said Effendi (d. 1749). He was the Sheikh of the Hirka-i Sherif Camii (the Mosque of the Mantle of the Prophet – ar. al-Burda-) in the Fatih district, Istanbul, and an eminent calligrapher particularly celebrated for his mastery in nas-ta’liq script. He was the great-grand-son of Shukrullah al-Uwaisi, a successor of saint Uwais al-Qarani (d. 657), who brought the Burda (the mantle of the Prophet) to Istanbul on Sultan Ahmed I’s order. When Osman al-Uwaisi was the Sheikh of the Mosque of the mantel of the Prophet, the mosque received pious endowments from members of the Ottoman court, particularly from grand-vizier Corlulu Ali Pasha. He passed away in Istanbul, in 1724. 


Calligrapher Osman al-Uwaisi’s family, the Uwaisis, were the successors of the muslim saint Uwais al-Qarani. Uwais was muslim mystic and martyr of early days of Islam, from Yemen. He lived during the lifetime of Prophet Muhammad, but never had the chance to meet the Prophet in person. The Prophet, who knew Uwais al-Qarani’s affection and loyalty to himself, is said to have sent his mantle (al-Burda) to him as a gift. As reported by the renowned historical scholar Ibn Battuta, Uwais was martyred in the Battle of Siffeen. Uwais's shrine is in al-Raqqah, Syria. Another shrine was constructed in his honour in Baykan, in the city of Siirt, Turkey. The Uwaisi family has been famous for owning and preserving the mantle of the Prophet. 

Provenance: Ex-private UK collection

Nasta'liq Quatrain Signed Osman Al-uwaisi Al-Qaranimagnifing glass


Turkey, 16th Century, Dimensions: 24.6 x 22 cm.

Black ink on paper, a succession of combined letters illustrating various combinations of the letter tā, three lines of large black thuluth script arranged between two lines of smaller black naskh script. The naskh lines include sayings attributed to the legendary Abbasid/Ilkhanid calligrapher Yāqūt al-Musta‘simī about the art of calligraphy (al-khatt).

The present mufradat (letter combinations) belongs to a dispersed album by Ahmed Karahisari. Pages from the same album and its signed last folio is in the Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University. A comparable folio from the Fogg Museum is published in Annemarie Schimmel’s Calligraphy and Islamic Culture, 1984, p. 82.

Ahmed Karahisari (d. 1566)

Ahmed Şemseddin Karahisari was born in Karahisar, in Turkey. Unlike most of the Ottoman calligraphers of his era he did not follow the calligraphy style of the Ottoman master calligrapher Sheikh Hamdullah, but adopted the trend of the ancient Abbasid/Ilkhanid master Yāqūt al-Musta‘simī. He was particularly famed for his mastery in Yaqutian thuluth and naskh scripts. However, apart from a few of his students, this style, following the Yaqutian school, was not widely accepted.

His most famous work is the Qur’an he penned for Suleyman the Magnificent (r. 1520-1566), preserved today at the Topkapi Palace. In terms of the technique and innovations he introduced to calligraphy,
he is considered one of the most important Ottoman calligraphers with Sheikh Hamdullah (d. 1520) and Hafiz Osman (d. 1698). His best-known monumental calligraphies are those he designed for the Süleymaniye Mosque in Istanbul. Among the followers of Karahisari, his student Hasan Celebi followed his path and produced works in his distinctive style.

The present work, with its crisp Yaqutian letters, stylised sharpness and monumentality, is attributable to the great master who died in 1566.

Provenance: Private US Collection



Turkey, Signed by: Ömer Fahreddin Efendi, Approved by: Ömer Faik Efendi (d. 1919) and Muhsinzade Abdullah Efendi (d. 1894), Dated: AH 1297/1879-80 AD, Dimensions: 39.7 x 31.2 cm.

Comprising an upper line in bold thuluth script, two lines beneath in neat naskh script, two cartouches underneath in khatt al-ijazah (also known as riqā‘) script containing the details of the ijazat, decorated with polychrome rococo flowers against a gold ground punched with chintamani (iğne perdahtı tr.) motifs, with borders of further rococo elements. This Ottoman calligrapher’s diploma gives the name of the student as Ömer Fahreddin Efendi, and identifies his calligraphy teachers as Ömer Faik Efendi and Muhsinzade Abdullah Bey, both renowned masters. Comparable Ottoman calligrapher’s diplomas have been published by Mohammad Ali Karimzadeh Tabrizi in Ijazat Nameh – Icazet Name, London, 1999, pp. 171, 174, 175. For a similar calligrapher’s diploma in the Turkish and Islamic Art Museum, Istanbul, see Filiz Çağman & Şule Aksoy, Osmanlı Sanatında Hat, Istanbul, 1998, p. 32.

Ömer Faik Efendi (d. 1919)

His father was from Kara Ereğlisi. His family’s name was Kürekçioğulları. He was born in 1855 in Istanbul, in the Ayasofya neighbourhood. He studied calligraphy with many masters and got his diploma from Bahri Efendi in 1871. He wanted to improve his artistic skills and asked master Kazasker Mustafa Izzet Efendi’s advice. Kazasker told him to work with his best pupil Mehmed Şefik Bey. Ömer Faik improved his knowledge in thuluth and thuluth jali scripts under Şefik Bey’s supervision. He was appointed calligraphy tutor to Suleyman Agha school. He designed the monumental inscriptions of the Bala Architectural Complex
(Bâlâ Külliyesi tr.) in Istanbul. He died in Istanbul in 1919.

Muhsinzade Abdullah Efendi (d. 1894)

Muhsinzade Abdullah Bey was a celebrated Ottoman master calligrapher of the 19th century. He studied calligraphy under the supervision of the famous court master Kazasker Mustafa İzzet Efendi (d. 1876). He was the grandson of Muhsinzade Damad Mahmud Pasha and the son of Mehmed Bey, the director of Sultan Abdulhamid II’s imperial stables. He was famous for his mastery in many different scripts. He lived in his water- side mansion, on the shores of the Bophorus, in the district of Kuruçeşme. He died in 1894.

Provenance: Private UK Collection



Turkey, 18th Century, 19.8x13 cm.


As his nisba al-Bursawi indicates the calligrapher Raif Ali was from the city of Bursa in Turkey. He was active in the first half of the 18th century. The present specimen signed by him displays the decorative repertoire favoured by the Ottomans during this period. The text is a Turkish quatrain addressing and praising an unnamed dignitary.  

Provenance: Private UK Collection 





Turkey, Signed and Dated 1326 AH / 1907 AD, 27.2 x 33 cm

The calligraphy in hand is a true masterpiece of Ottoman calligraphy documenting the degree of finesse reached in the first decades of the 20th century. It is undoubtedly one of the finest works of the court calligrapher Hasan Rıza Efendi with its extremely sharp, well-proportioned letters and highly finished letter finials both in thuluth and naskh scripts. The thuluth text comprises a hadith of the Prophet Muhammad; “the degree of knowledge is the highest of degrees”.

Hasan Rıza Efendi (d. 1920)

Born in the Üsküdar district of
Istanbul in 1849, Hasan Rıza Efendi
studied the six pens under the famous master calligrapher Yahya Hilmi Efendi. Later on he also studied under the supervision of master Mehmed Şefik Bey. Mehmed Şefik Bey introduced him to
the great master of Ottoman calligraphy Kazasker Mustafa İzzet Efendi who hugely inspired the art of Hasan Rıza Efendi. He was appointed court calligrapher after Mehmed Şefik Bey, and taught calligraphy in the palace school called Muzika-i Humayun. He was particularly celebrated for his mastery in thuluth and naskh scripts. He was responsible from the calligraphies of the Cihangir Mosque, the Mosque of Sultan Selim I in Istanbul as well as the monumental names of the four righteous caliphs in the maqam al-Ibrahim in the Haram al-Sharif of the holy Kaba in Mecca. He passed away in 1920, in Istanbul.

Provenance: Private French Collection 



Turkey, Second half of the 16th Century, Dimensions: 28.3 x 19.1 cm

The present cut-paper calligraphy is a rare work by the Ottoman decoupage master Fahri of Bursa. It displays his mastery in executing cut-paper calligraphy without interfering with the proportions of the letters. See; Blair, Sheila. Islamic Calligraphy, Edinburgh University Press, 2006, p.56. A remarkable collection of Fahri’s cut-paper calligraphies is found in the calligraphy album of Sultan Ahmed I in the Topkapi Palace Museum Library (TSMK H. 2161). A comparable decoupage by the celebrated master is published in Süheyl Ünver – Gülbün Mesara’s Türk İnce Kağıt Oyma Sanatı, Türkiye İş Bankası Yayınları, Ankara, 1980, p. 12.

FAHRI OF BURSA (d. 1617)

The greatest of Ottoman paper-cutters Fahri of Bursa is best known for his extraordinary decoupage composition, known as Gülistan (the rose-garden), presented to Sultan Ahmed I (r.1603-1617), now located in the so-called Album of Murad III, in Vienna, Austrian National Library (Cod. Mixt. 313). The same album also includes other fine examples executed by Fahri. He is the only paper-cutter (qa‘ati) mentioned by the Ottoman chronicler Mustafa ‘Āli in his history of calligraphers and artists (Manāqib-i Hunarwarān) written in 1580 and one whose work deemed worthy of royal albums. The artist was celebrated for his unparalleled skills in executing garden scenes and floral compositions. His works have been praised by many authorities and considered unsurpassable. He passed away in 1617.

Provenance: Private French Collection



Turkey, Signed: Safakzade Hafız Mustafa Tevfik, Dated: 1302 AH / 1884 AD

Arabic manuscript on paper, written in fine naskh script in black ink, signed with a four-page Turkish poem bearing the title: ketebe-i manzûme (signature in poetic form). The format of this Qur’an is extremely unusual, appearing to be without precedent. The frontispiece and Arabic text of the Qur’an follows the traditional format. Exceptionally however the manuscript includes four further pages of poetry
in Ottoman Turkish which gives a commentary on the production of the Qur’an as well as biographical information about the calligrapher, his father, his two calligraphy tutors the date completion date, etc.

Selected couplets from the poem are transliterated and translated below:

Bihamdillâh temâm oldu bu mushaf Okuyan ola dü-âlem müşerref
(Thank God this Qur’an is completed
May those who read be prosperous in this life and the next)


Oku Kur’ân’ı rûha sad safâdır
Yazan Tevfik Hâfız Mustafâ’dır

(Read, the Qur’an has many spiritual benefits, Its calligrapher’s name is Tevfik Hafız Mustafa)

Şafakzâde demekle şânı meşhûr
Ede Hak dîn ü dünyâsını ma’mûr

(Better-known as Şafakzâde,
May God make him prosperous in this world and the next)

Mukaddem vâlidim eyledi himmet
Ede mevlâ makâmın bâğ-ı cennet

(At first, I studied calligraphy with my father

May God place him in Heaven’s gardens)

Onun nâmı Ömer Hâfız Efendi

Taki hem ehl-i Kur’ân idi gitti

(His name was Ömer Hafız Efendi He lived and died as a pious man, a follower of the Qur’an)

Muahher hüsn-i hat bahşetti bîhad
Bize üstâdımız Hâfız Mehemmed

(After my father’s demise I studied calligraphy Under our master Hafız Mehemmed)

Ona Kara-Mehmed-zâde denir
Hattın ger görse Hamdullâh beğenir

(Better-known as Kara-Mehmed-zâde, his calligraphy is so beautiful that even the legandary Hamdullah would have liked it if he had been alive)
[Sheikh Hamdullah (d. 1520) was the first great master of Ottoman calligraphy).
Sene bin üç yüz iki ibtidâsı
Bu mushaf-ı şerîfin intihâsı

(This noble Qur’an was completed
In the year one thousand three hundred and two).

This Qur’an is written in very fine naskh script and richly illuminated. The illumination on the frontispiece is particularly remarkable. It is an exceptional manuscript because it includes four further pages of poetry in Ottoman Turkish which gives a commentary on the production of the Qur’an as well as biographical information about the calligrapher, his father, his two calligraphy tutors the date completion date.

Provenance: Private Belgian Collection



A Fine Illuminated Ottoman Qur'an, Copied by Safi-Zade Ahmed Zihni Kutahi (d. after 1845)

Turkey, 19th Century Calligrapher Ahmed Zihni Kutahi

Born in the city of Kutahya as a member of the Safi-zade family, Ahmed Zihni learned calligraphy from Hasan Feviz, the student of master calligrapher Osman the Mad (Deli Osman, d.1805) and son-in-law of Ibrahim Afif Efendi (d.1767). Ahmed Zihni Kutahi's only recorded work is a Qur'an dated 1262 AH/1845 AD in the collection of the Turkish and Islamic Arts Museum, Istanbul. The present Qur'an is noteworthy for its surah headings which are recorded with unusual amounts of detail: not only the number of verses in each surah are inscribed but also the number of words and letters.

A Fine Illuminated Ottoman Qur'an, Copied by Safi-Zade Ahmed Zihni Kutahi (d. after 1845)magnifing glass


A Unique Qasida al-Burda Copied by Muhiddin Al-Amasi

Turkey, 15th-16th century

Muhiddin al-Amasi came from a family of distinguished calligraphers. His father was Celal Amasi and his brother was calligrapher Mehmed Cemal Amasi, both well-known in Isfahan and Herat. Muhiddin al-Amasi’s exceptional talent, particularly in naskh script was so highly revered that his aunt’s son, Shaykh Hamdullah, was to refer Muhiddin al-Amasi to copy a Qur’an for Suleyman the Magnificent which he himself refused. Muhiddin al-Amasi was to refuse it as well, as mentioned by Ekrem Hakki Ayverdi: ‘In due course one thousand flori was paid for this job but following Suleiman’s invitation Muhiddin refused to leave Amasya and said: It would be very difficult for us to leave our homeland for any duty whatsoever’ (E. Ayverdi, Fatih Devri Hattatlari, Istanbul, 1953, p.48).

The poem in the present work’s colophon also praises Muhiddin al-Amasi’s hand. After publishing this poem in his Menakıb-i Hunerveran (‘Epic Deeds of Artists’), Mustafa Ali, the well-known Ottoman historian, counted him among the leading ‘seven masters of the Rumis’ which in his opinion were ‘…Shaykh Hamdullah of Amasya, Dede Chelebi, Muhiddin of Amasya, Jamal of Amasya, Abdullah of Amasya, Ahmed Karahisari and Sherbetchizade Ibrahim’ (E. Akin-Kivanc, Ed. Trans., Mustafa Ali’s Epic Deeds of Artists, Boston, 2011.)

Due to a eulogy written in the colophon with smaller naskh script in praise of Celaloglu and the characteristics of the script, Ekrem Hakki Ayverdi has recorded this manuscript as the only known work of Muhiddin al-Amasi which has consequently been accepted by the leading authorities on calligraphy (M. Serin, Hattat Seyh Hamdullah, Istanbul, 2007, p.19). Except for the present Qasidat Al-Burda, no other work by Muhiddin al-Amasi is known to exist in any private or public collections. Formerly belonging to the personal collection of the leading scholar and architect Ekrem Hakki Ayverdi (1899-1984), Muhiddin al-Amasi’s Al-Burda represents a prized addition to any collection of calligraphy.

A Unique Qasida al-Burda Copied by Muhiddin Al-Amasimagnifing glass


Rare and Important Peri, Attributable to Ottoman Court Painter Veli Can

Turkey, 16th Century

This drawing belongs to small group of peri (nymph) drawings produced in Istanbul and Tabriz in the 16th century. The nasta’liq inscription above the drawing, reads ‘peri-zad’. Similar peri drawings by Veli Can are found in the Topkapi Palace Museum Library (H.2162, fols. 8b-11a) in Istanbul, and the Musee Jaquemart-Andre, (Album 261) in Paris. The margin decoration in gold, consisting of intertwined double-rumis can also be observed on the margins of similar mid-16th century works produced in the Ottoman court atelier such as the collection of Turkish poems in the Österreichische Nationelbibliothek (inv. no. N. F. 122), in Vienna. Attributable to Veli Can, the second master of the so-called saz style following the famous Shah Quli, the present drawing is displays the Ottoman court taste for siyah-qalem drawings in the second half of the 16th century.

Veli Can

Ottoman court painter. According to the Ottoman chronicler Mustafa Ali, he was a student of the Safavid court artist Siyavush and came to the Ottoman court at Istanbul in 1580. Veli Can, one of the leading court painters of the Ottoman court came from Tabriz and worked under the famous Shah Quli in the court atelier. Mustafa Ali claimed that, despite Veli Can's gifts as a draughtsman, his style did not change and his work remained the same throughout his career. His name appears in the registers of the corporation of Ottoman artists for 1595-1596 and 1596-1597 with a daily salary of seven akche, a mediocre sum, which bears out Mustafa Ali's assessment. He was among the painters who worked for the second volume of the Hunername as well as the royal copy of the Zubdat al-Tawarikh, produced for Sultan Murad III (r.1574-1595). He was celebrated for his works in the siyah qalam technique. He specialized in saz compositions and peri drawings.

The large number of attributions to the artist had made the definition of his style impossible until Denny discovered a tiny hidden signature on a drawing (Istanbul, Topkapi Palace Library inv no. H. 2836). From this drawing, depicting a bird and a grotesque head in foliage, he has convincingly assigned three other drawings (Istanbul, Topkapi Palace Library inv no. H. 2147, fol. 23v and H. 2162, fol. 8v; Paris, Musee Jacquemart-Andre, MS. 261) to the artist. The rounded serrations of the leaf edges and bold, black sweeping lines that form the spines of the leaves place these drawings squarely in the saz, or non-historical Ottoman court style of the late 16th century.

Rare and Important Peri, Attributable to Ottoman Court Painter Veli Canmagnifing glass


Extremely Rare Imperial Ottoman Firman of Sultan Mahmud II (r. 1808-1839)

Signed by Court Illuminator Hezargiradizade Ahmed Ataullah Efendi - Turkey - Signed: Zahhabahu Hezargradizade Al-Sayyid Ahmed Ata (Hezargradizade Al-Sayyid Ahmed Ata illuminated it) - Dated: 1250 AH / 1834 AD - Dimensions: 168 x 78 cm.

Ottoman manuscript on paper, 13ll. of diwani curving upward, alternatively in gold and red ink, punctuated with gold and polychrome illuminated rosettes, the headpiece containing the large gold tughra of Sultan Mahmud II within a floral medallion bordered with long radiating sunrays, this medallion on blue ground bordered on three sides with extremely fine illumination, the right and bottom borders of the text filled in with dense gold foliage, signed by the illuminator in the bottom left corner.

This large and richly illuminated firman of Sultan Mahmud II concerns the acquisition of gold by agents for minting of new coins by the Imperial treasury. It is dated the 5th of Shawwal 1249 AH (15 February 1834). In 1834 the Ottoman treasure took its first step towards de facto bimetallism by accepting gold and silver as legal tender, in an attempt to join towards bimetallism and gold standard.

Ottoman Court Illuminator Hezargradizade Ahmed Ataullah

Ahmed Ata was a remarkable artist who was appointed illuminator and book binder of the Ottoman palace. He was credited with inventing a specifically Ottoman interpretation of the rococo style to which he gave his name and which is known as Ata Yolu (the Ata style), please see Çiçek Derman’s article on this subject “The Art of Tezhib in the Ottoman Centuries with its Styles and Artists”, published in The Great Ottoman Civilisation: Culture and Arts, vol. IV, Ankara, 2000, pp. 680-686.

Hezargradizade Ahmed Ata was celebrated for Ottomanizing European rococo motives introduced to the art of Ottoman illumination in this period by adding local decorative elements. As discussed by Derman in her article, Ahmed Ata had a careful and patient way of working on shaded flower designs. Due to the difficulty of executing its painstakingly rich elements only a few works were created in the ‘Ata style and only one has been documented. The only comparable recorded work illuminated by Ahmed Ata is the Qur’an manuscript in the Istanbul University Library (inv. no. K.A. 54), originally from the Library of Sultan Abdulhamid II in the Yildiz Palace, Istanbul. The illumination of this manuscript is signed by Hezargradizade Ahmed ‘Ata and dated 1252 AH. This shows that Ahmed ‘Ata worked on the Istanbul University Qur’an two years after the present firman.

Imperial Ottoman firmans featuring a similar design, bearing tughras with radiating medallions were favoured by the Ottoman imperial chancery by the mid-19th century. The radiating decoration surrounding the tughra represents the power of both the imperial monogram and the hand writing of the Sultan which is located on the right side of the tughra. This inscription in red ink and in thuluth script reads an royal command in Ottoman Turkish; Mucebince amel oluna (Should be done as required). Comparable firmans from the reign of Sultan Mahmud II bearing the same command from the Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts in Istanbul have been published by Ayşegül Nadir in the exhibition catalogue Imperial Ottoman Fermans, Istanbul, 1986, pp. 144-148.

It is an extremely rare and important Ottoman firman both in terms of its increadibly fine illumination signed by court illuminator Ahmed Ata and its very fine, sharp calligraphy.

Provenance: Private Belgian Collection

Extremely Rare Imperial Ottoman Firman of Sultan Mahmud II (r. 1808-1839)magnifing glass


An illuminated Dua al-Usbuiyyah, copied by Abu Muhammad Abu Al-Makarim Al-Murshidi

Persia, Timurid or Aqqoyunlu, 15th Century

Transcribed by Abu-Muhammad Abu-Makarim al-Murshidi, the present manuscript is a superb copy Dua' al-Usbuiyyah (prayers for each day of the week). Combining thuluth and naskh scripts in gold outlined with black ink was a technique particularly favoured by Ilkhanid, Jalayirid, Timurid and Aqqoyunlu patrons. The decorative repertoire seen here, particularly the minute hatching between the cloud bands and blue foliage, is close to other examples produced in fifteenth-century Shiraz.

Very similar decoration can be observed in the Qur'an from the library of Sultan Bayezid II (r.1481-1512), copied and illustrated in Aqqoyunlu Shiraz in the mid-fifteenth century, now preserved in the Turkish and Islamic Arts Museum, Istanbul (TIEM inv.no.509). A second closely-related manuscript is a Mathnawi of Mawlana Jalaluddin Rumi, dated 888 AH/183 AD, in the Bibliotèque Nationale, Paris (Suppl.Persan 1495).

Abu Muhammad Abu al-Makarim al-Murshidi

Better known as Abu al-Makarim Ibn Ali Murshidi, Abu Makarim was a court calligrapher active during mid-fifteenth-century Persia, under Uzun Hasan (r.1457-78) and Sultan Yaqub (r.1478-90). Only two other works by Abu al-Makarim are known: the first is a manuscript copy of the Qasida al-Burda in thuluth and naskh scripts, accompanied by its Persian translation and dated 873 AH/1468 AD; and the second a copy of the Qur'an, executed in thuluth script and dated 875 AH/1470 AD, now in the Topkapi Saray Palace Museum Library (TSM inv.no.K.13).

An illuminated Dua al-Usbuiyyah, copied by Abu Muhammad Abu Al-Makarim Al-Murshidimagnifing glass


Illuminated Manuscript Of The Sayings Of Khawaja Abdallah Al-Ansari

Signed: Mahmud b. Ishaq al-Shihabi - Written in the city of Balkh - Dated 971AH / 1563 AD - Height: 23 cm - Width: 14.8 cm

Richly decorated with illuminated sections and birds. Lacquered binding decorated with gold shams motif and saz leaves. Seals of Shah Safi II (Suleyman I, r. 1666-1694) and Nasr al-Mulk Naib al-Saltanat and of Ottoman owners including Sultan Mahmud II’s court physician Mustafa Mes‘ud Effendi (dated 1228/1812). The text is in Persian. Khawaja Abdullah al-Ansari of Herat (1006 -1088) also known as Pir-i Herat (the chief saint of Herat) was a famous sufi who lived in the 11th century in Herat. He was one of the outstanding figures in Khorasan in the 11th century, famed as a commentator of the Qur’an, traditionist, polemicist, and spiritual master, known for his mastery in oratory and poetic talents in Arabic and Persian. His shrine, built during the Timurid period, is still a popular pilgrimage site. Nasir al-Mulk Na'ib al-Saltanah (Abu'l-Qasim Khan Qarahqozlu Hamadani), one of the ex-owners of the manuscript, was educated in Oxford and entered the Royal service after his return to Iran. He receieved the title Nasir al-Mulk after his grand-father's death in early 1305 (1887-8). Among his posts were Minister of Treasury in 1325 (1907-08); Prime Minister for only a couple of months, when he resigned without Shah's permission and was about to be sentenced to death when the British intervened and instead, he left for Europe to return after Muhammad 'Ali Shah was deposed. He was appointed Na'ib al-Saltanah to the young Ahmad Mirza in 1329 (1911-12) and kept his post up the time Ahmad Mirza became king in 1322 (1913-14). He left Iran to return later and died in 1346 (1927)' (M. Bamdad, Dictionary of National Biography of Iran,1700-1960, vol. 1, Tehran, 1966, pp. 66-70).

Mahmud b. Ishaq al-Shihabi

The calligrapher Mahmud b. Ishaq al-Shihabi is one of those mentioned by the biographer Qadi Ahmad because his nas-ta‘liq script was highly prized not only among the Shaybanid Uzbek rulers but also in Iran among the Safavid rulers and, in India. According to Qadi Ahmad, Mahmud b. Ishaq came from a village near Herat and may have been born there between 1510 and 1520. His father, Khawaja Ishaq, became mayor of Herat but was forced to leave with his family and children in 1528, when the city was seized by the Shaybanid ruler Ubayd Khan Uzbek. The famous calligrapher Mawlana Mir Ali Heravi (d. 1544) was travelling with the same group of captives from Herat to Bukhara and took as his pupil Khwaja Mahmud, who received education and made such progress in Bukhara that his writing was preferred by some to that of his master, Mir Ali. By 1530–31, Mahmud b. Ishaq had already written a major work, The Collection of Wise Sayings of Ali. Khwaja Mahmud spent some time in Bukhara but after the death of Ubayd Khan in 1539 evidently took up residence in Balkh, where he is said to have joined the service of Shah Husayn Balkhi Shihabi and thus added the title Shihabi to his own name. Qadi Ahmad writes, “Many people assembled round him and he had no need of making inscriptions and producing specimens; therefore his writing is scarce.” Apart from the Collection of the Wise Sayings of Ali of 937 (1530–31) and the Yusuf va Zulaykh¸ manuscript of 964 (1557), he wrote a further manuscript after having returned from Balkh to Bukhara to work for the Shaybanid ruler Abu’l Ghazi Abdullah b. Iskandar (1557–98). He may have died in 991 (1583), when he was in his late sixties or early seventies.”

Provenance: Private UK collection

Illuminated Manuscript Of The Sayings Of Khawaja Abdallah Al-Ansarimagnifing glass


Calligrapher's Diploma (Ijazah) Given To Mehmed Hasib Pasha's Son Mehmed Eshref Beyefendi By His Calligraphy Teachers Mehmed Shefik Bey And Abdullah Zuhdi Bey

Turkey - Dated 1272 AH / 1855 AD - Height: 22.9 cm - Width: 30.2 cm

Arabic manuscript on paper, 3 lines to the page, written in thuluth and naskh and the rest in ijaza script, in black ink within cloud bands, set against a gold ground with pin-pricked cintamani motifs and polychrome rococo decoration, outer margins of scrolling ribbons and flowers, laid down on stout paper. The present ijazeh was given to Mehmed Eshref Bey Efendi, son of Mehmed Hasib Pasha, and signed by his tutors Abdullah Zuhdi and Mehmed Shefik, in 1272 AH/1855 AD. The calligrapher is the son of Mehmed Hasib Paşa who was the minister of pious endowments (evkaf naziri tr.) between 1844 and 1848. The teachers who granted this diploma, Abdullah Zuhdi and Mehmed Shefik, were both court calligraphers. Mehmed Shefik studied calligraphy with Ali Vasfi and then with Mustafa Izzet Efendi. In 1845 he was appointed teacher of calligraphy to the Muzika-i Hümayun, the imperial brass band. Together with the master calligrapher Abdulfettah, he was sent by Sultan Abdulmecid (r. 1839–61) to Bursa to repair the inscriptions in the Ulu Cami (congregational mosque), which had been severely damaged in the earthquake of 1855. His inscriptions there are among his finest works. During the three years he spent on this project he also wrote inscriptions in other mosques. He passed away in 1880. Abdullah Zuhdi was born in Damascus and came to Istanbul as a child. He studied calligraphy first under the supervision of Rashid-i Eyyubi and later Kadıasker Mustafa Izzet Efendi. He became a famous for his mastery both in calligraphy and painting. Sultan Abdulmecid who appreciated his works, ordered him to design the monumental calligraphic bands of the Haram al-Sharif in Medina. He stayed in Medina and worked on the monumental inscriptions of the mosque of the Prophet Muhammad. He then moved to Cairo and lived there until his death in 1879.

Provenance: Ex-private UK collection

Calligrapher's Diploma (Ijazah) Given To Mehmed Hasib Pasha's Son Mehmed Eshref Beyefendi By His Calligraphy Teachers Mehmed Shefik Bey And Abdullah Zuhdi Beymagnifing glass


Highly Important Copy Of The Qur'an Signed By Huseyin Hilmi Al-Uskudari

Turkey - Signed and Dated Sha'ban 1249 AH / December 1833 AD - Text panel: 10.8 x 5.8 cm - Binding: 18.5 x 12.5 cm

A remarkably fine copy, both in terms of its calligraphy and illumination. Arabic manuscript on paper, 309ff. plus six fly-leaves, each folio with 15ll. of crystalline black naskh script, the rosette verse markers each worked in a different manner in gold and polychrome, sura headings in white naskh script on gold ground within illuminated cartouche with floral decoration, text within black-ruled two-colour gold frame, section markers in white naskh script within finely illuminated floral medallions, with catchwords, opening bifolio with very finely illuminated margins on gold ground, text followed by a folio decorated with large floral composition, followed by the colophon stating that this is the scribe's eighth copy of the Qur'an, in original green morocco binding with flap, with two-colour gold floral decoration, with gilt brown doublures. The nisba of the calligrapher “al-Uskudari” indicates that he was born in the Uskudar district, on the Asian shore of Istanbul, also known to the West as “Skutari”. The crystalline precision of the naskh script points the calligrapher’s excellent pedigree, linking him to calligraphy masters of Istanbul who almost always share a distinctive, sharp hand, hardly found elsewhere. The naskh script does not follow the usual Ottoman standards which are built on the canonical proportions invented by the legendary masters Sheikh Hamdullah Efendi (d. 1520) and Hafız Osman Efendi (d. 1698). The naskh script features less soft, more solid and sharp proportions which links the calligrapher to Mahmud Celaleddin Efendi (d. 1829), the founder of this distinctive style. Mahmud Celaleddin Efendi and his student Mehmed Tahir Efendi, the calligraphy tutor of Sultan Abdulmecid (r. 1839-1861), mastered this new style. The illumination of the frontispiece is remarkable since it displays an eclectic approach, rarely found in Ottoman manuscript illumination, gracefully joining classical Ottoman and European decorative repertoire.

Provenance: Ex-Mohamed Makiya Collection

Highly Important Copy Of The Qur'an Signed By Huseyin Hilmi Al-Uskudarimagnifing glass



Turkey, Dated: 1181 AH / 1767 AD., Dimensions: 117 x 50 cm.

This firman of Sultan Mustafa III (r. 1757-1773) written in six lines of divani script, is about the Endowments of the Holy Shrine of Prophet Muhammad in Medina. It appoints the chief-eunuch of the imperial Ottoman Harem Bashir Agha as chief inspector of the endowments. It is a rare decree discussing the organisation of the Holy Shrine’s income from royal endowments and Bashir Agha’s duties. The text is written in black, red and green ink. The name of the Prophet and words referring to his shrine and Qur’anic quotations are written in gold. Green ink is used in firmans where mention of the Prophet and the holy places are made. This is the reason why the imperial monogram of the Sultan (tughra) is also in green. The dome of the Prophet’s tomb in Medina, the subject of this firman, is also in green (Ar. Qubba al-Hadra, al-Masjid al-Nabawi). Today the tomb is part of the Prophet’s Mosque which was established and built by the Prophet himself. It is the third mosque built in the history of Islam, and one of the largest mosques in the world. It is the second- holiest site of Islam, after the Great Mosque in Mecca. One of the most notable features of the complex is the Green Dome in the south-east corner of the mosque, where the tomb of Prophet Muhammad is located. The tughra reads “Mustafa Khan bin Ahmed Khan Al-Muzaffer Daiman” (Mustafa Khan, son of Ahmed Khan, the always victorious). The expression following the titulature, “the always victorious”, is identical to the “semper victor” used following the titulature of the Roman emperors. This firman with its sharp, neat, well-proportioned calligraphy, is a rare and important document concerning the tomb of Prophet Muhammad, the second most holy site of Islam.

Provenance: Private French Collection



Rare And Fine Calligraphy In Thuluth And Naskh By Ottoman Court Calligrapher Ibrahim Daimi

Turkey - Signed and Dated (11)71 AH / 1756 AD - 14 x 19.9 cm

The present, extremely fine calligraphy comprises a Bismillah in muhaqqaq and hadiths of the Prophet Muhammad in naskh script. The original illumination reflects the taste of the period with its characteristic floral decorative repertoire applied on a gold background.

Ibrahim Daimi (d. 1756)

In his youth Ibrahim Daimi was one of the servants of Ahmed Ağa who served Grand-vizier Hekimbaşı-zade Ali Paşa. He became a member of the Mevlevi sufi order. He studied thuluth and naskh scripts under the supervision of the master court calligrapher Şeker-zade Mehmed Efendi, who worked for the imperial palace during the reign of Sultan Ahmed

III (r. 1703-1730). Ibrahim Daimi was employed in the Galata Sarayı (the Galata Palace) as a scribe and then was appointed as calligraphy tutor to the Topkapi Palace. He passed away in Istanbul, in 1756. He is buried in the Karaca Ahmed cemetery, just next to the grave of the legendary late 15th century master Sheikh Hamdullah Efendi (d. 1520). A Qur’an copied by this calligrapher, endowed by the chief-eunuch Haci Beşir Ağa, is in the library of the Ayasofya Mosque, Istanbul. Two of his works in thuluth and naskh scripts are published by Şevket Rado, in Türk Hattatları (1980), p. 158

Rare And Fine Calligraphy In Thuluth And Naskh By Ottoman Court Calligrapher Ibrahim Daimimagnifing glass


Important Calligraphic Panel Signed Mehmed Es'ad Al-yesari

Turkey - Signed: Mehmed Es'ad al-Yesari - Dated (11)96 AH / 1781 AD - Dimensions: 35.8 x 49cm

Calligraphy in jali Nas-ta’liq script, signed by the famous Ottoman court calligrapher Mehmed Es’ad al-Yesari. The couplet in Persian reads:

"Fānist jihān dar u vafā nīst
Bāqī hama ūst jumla fānīst"

(This world is perishable and has no fidelity,
Only God is eternal, the rest is mortal)

Mehmed Es’ad al-Yesari (D. 1798)

Yesari Mehmed Es'ad was born in Istanbul, the son of Kara Mahmud Aga. The nickname al-Yesari derives from the fact that he was left handed. In fact he was also paralyzed on the right side and afflicted with tremors on the left, making his talent for calligraphy, and in particular the nas-tal'iq script even more notable. He first studied with a master of nas-ta'liq, Shaykh al-Islam Wali al-Din Efendi (Veliyüddin Efendi) and then with Dedezadeh Muhammad Sa'id Efendi from whom he received his calligrapher's diploma (ijazah) in 1754. 

The present panel (levha), dated AH 1196, corresponds to the very beginning of what can be described as Yesari's career peak with his innovative style, between AH 1196/1782 AD and AH 1200/1786 AD. Having closely followed the style of the great Safavid master of nasta'liq script, Mir 'Imad (1554-1615) - he was sometimes known as 'Imad-i Rum, the 'Imad of Anatolia, Yesari began to develop his own style which led to an new Ottoman method. Yesari Es'ad was appointed calligraphy instructor at the Imperial Palace by Sultan Mustafa III (r. 1789-1807) and Sultan Selim III (r. 1789-1807) admired his monumental inscriptions. He wrote the inscription of a panel in the mihrab of the Hagia Sophia and others for the Tomb of Sultan Mehmet II, the Barracks of the Black Eunuchs at Topkapi, the Beylerbeyi Mosque and the Aynali Kavak Sarayi which are amongst the finest examples of nas-ta‘liq in Ottoman monumental calligraphy. His other recorded works are calligraphic samples, one dated AH 1193/1779-80 AD which he copied from Mir 'Imad (Mahdi Bayani, Ahval va Asar-e Khosh-Nevisan, Vol. III, Tehran, 1348, p. 633).

Provenance: Private UK Collection

Important Calligraphic Panel Signed Mehmed Es'ad Al-yesarimagnifing glass


Ottoman Calligraphy in Jali Thuluth Signed Mahmud Cemaleddin

Alayka 'awn-Allah (May God's divine aid be upon you)

Dated 1300 AH / 1882 AD

Ottoman Calligraphy in Jali Thuluth Signed Mahmud Cemaleddinmagnifing glass


Jami, Tuhfat al-Ahrar, copied by Muhammad Qasim, Persia, Safavid

Persia, Safavid - First half 16th century

This exquisite version of Jami’s Tuhfat al-Ahrar, originally in the library of Suleyman Shah I, was copied by Muhammed Qasim Ibn Shadishah, one of the leading masters of nasta'liq script during the reign of Sultan Husayn Bayqara in the late Timurid/early Safavid period.
The text begins with the opening verses of Auhadi’s Jam u Jam, followed by the complete text of 'Abd al-Rahman Jami’s Tuhfat al-Ahrar. The frontispiece is attributable to Shaykhzade on account of its close resemblance to the frontispiece of the Bustan of Sa'di formerly in the Art and History Trust Collection (where it is attributed to Shaykhzade, see Soudavar 1992, pp.195-96, and sold in these rooms 8-9 October 1979, lot 261). The present manuscript is of royal provenance, as indicated by the Persian note on the fly leaf stating that this manuscript was once included in Suleyman Shah's library (r.1666-94).

Muhammad Qasim Shadishah, as he is referred to by Malik Dailami, was one of the leading masters of the nasta‘liq script characteristic of the early Safavid period. According to Dailami, he studied under Sultan ‘Ali Mashhadi (d.1520), whose students included Safavid court calligraphers such as 'Abdi Nishapuri, Rustam ‘Ali, Sultan Muhammad Khandan, and Sultan Muhammad Nur. Sultan ‘Ali Mashhadi is also mentioned as Muhammad Qasim’s teacher by Shams al-Din Muhammad Vasfi (Thackston 2001, p.33 and Roxburgh 2001, p.101), although Dust Muhammad mentions him as the student of Maulana Sultan Muhammad Nur and Maulana Sultan Muhammad Khandan (see Bayani 1966-69, p.1:272-279, Thackston 2001, pp.10-11, 21, 25, fol.12a/3, and Soucek 2003, pp.52-53).

There are seven recorded works of Muhammad Qasim Shadishah, as follows:

Muhammad Qasim b. Shahdishah participated in the production of an anthology of poetry, dated in 1524, for the Safavid vizier Khawaja Malik Ahmad, the governor of Herat under Shah Isma'il. The anthology bears the signatures of 'Ali al-Husayni, Muhammad Qasim b. Shadishah and Muhammad Khandan (see Roxburgh 2005, p.179).

Shaykhzade, a court painter of the Safavid period active between 1510 and 1550, is famed for his signed works and collaborations with renowned calligraphers such as Muhammad Qasim Shadishah. Spending his early career in Herat, his style was influenced by Bihzad, who is recorded by the Ottoman chronicler Mustafa 'Ali Efendi as his tutor. He then moved to Bukhara to work under the royal library-atelier patronised by Ubaydallah Khan. Shaykhzade’s painting style evolved slowly as he continued to work with the same late Timurid elements of design. By the 1520s, his paintings were akin to the work of the best illuminators, filled with fine arabesque patterns and intricate geometric motifs designed in a minute scale.

Jami, Tuhfat al-Ahrar, copied by Muhammad Qasim, Persia, Safavidmagnifing glass


Selections From The Poetry Of Mir Ali-shir Nava'i in Turkish, Copied by 'Abd al-Rahim al-Ya'qubi, Persia, Aq-Qoyunlu

Dated 881 AH/1480 AD

Produced under the royal patronage of the Aq Qoyunlu Sultan Ya'qub, copied and signed by the court calligrapher Abdurrahim Yaqubi (Khawarazmi), this manuscript is the earliest dated copy containing the poems of Ali-shir Nava'i, the great master of early Turkic literature. Its regal provenance is confirmed by the scribe’s reference to al-Sultani, as well as his nisba, Ya'qubi, (indicating relation or origin), signifying that he was in the service of Sultan Ya'qub, who commissioned the manuscript.

Sultan Ya’qub b. Hasan Aq Qoyonlu was the ruler of Western Persia from 1478 to 1490. As the patron of this manuscript, he is depicted in the miniature below the colophon, in line with the known tradition. Another miniature beneath the colophon which depicts the presentation of the manuscript to its patron is the Divan-i Husayni in the Topkapi Palace Museum Library (inv.no. EH 1636, f.123a). The patron is identified as Sultan Husayn Bayqara, to whom the head of the kitabkhana is presenting the manuscript, confirming this custom (published in Filiz Cagman’s article, 'The miniatures of the Divan-i Husayni and the influence of their style', Fifth International Congress of Turkish Art, ed. G. Fehér, Budapest: Akademiai Kiado, 1978, p.245.

As an Aq Qoyunlu Sultan, Ya'qub was very interested in Chaghatay poetry and is known to have also commissioned a copy of Mir Haydar Khawarazmi’s Chaghatai poem Makhzan al-Asrar ('Treasury of Secrets') completed on 25 Jumada I 883 AH/24 August 1478 AD, now in the New York Public Library (Pers. Ms.41, see S. Blair, Islamic Calligraphy, Edinburgh University, 2006, p.52).

Khawarazmi was particularly close to the Sultan and adopted the pen-name Anisi (friend), which was apparently bestowed upon him by Ya'qub himself in recognition of their friendship. He also signed as Sultani (Royal) and Yaqubi (belonging to Sultan Yaqub, see Bayani 1966-69). The son of Abdurrahman Khwarazmi, who was one of the founders of the canons of nasta'liq script, Abdurrahim was apparently born and raised in Shiraz, where he practised calligraphy from an early age as indicated by a fragment of calligraphy now in Istanbul stating that it was copied during his eleventh year.

Working as the royal scribe at court, Abdurrahim gained fame thanks to his association with Sultan Ya'qub. He also worked for two other members of the Aqqqoyonlu dynasty, Kalil b. Hasan and Rostam b. Ya'qub, as well as completed a copy of Nizami’s Khamsa, originally commissioned by the Timurid prince Abu al-Qasim Babur (r.1447-57), passing unfinished to Qaraqoyunlu Jahan Shah’s son Pir Budaq and eventually to the Aqqoyunlu ruler Kalil (now in the Topkapi Palace Museum Library, inv.no. H.782). Although after the death of Sultan Ya'qub, officials of the Aqqoyunlu state continued to patronise artists, Abdurrahim worked as a teacher for calligraphers such as Esedullah Kirmani, Muhammad Kirmani and Molla 'Ali Sultan, who served at the Ottoman Sultan Suleyman’s court.

(Mir) 'Ali-shir Nava'i, also known as Nizam-al-Din ʿAli-Shir Herawi (1441-1501), generally known under his pen-name, Nava'i ('the melodic' or 'musical'), was an important politician, mystic, linguist, painter, and poet. Born and raised in the city of Herat, he is remembered in Uzbekistan's history as one of the founding fathers of Uzbek literature and a great contributor to Chagatai works, significantly adding to the development of the Uzbek language.

Whereas the earliest recorded dated manuscript with a lacquered binding is the Divan of Sultan Husayn Bayqara, dated 1492 (Topkapi Palace Museum – Emanet Hazinesi: 1636), the present manuscript, dated 1480, predates the Topkapi manuscript, marking it out as one of the earliest surviving examples of Islamic lacquer (see J. Thompson, and S. Canby, Hunt for Paradise: Court Arts of Safavid Iran, 1501-1576, Skira, 2003, p.185).

Loose pages from this manuscript have been preserved in stately and private collections, notably in the Art and History Trust Collection (published in Soudavar 1992, p.117). Notable stylistic parallels can be drawn between this manuscript and the Divan-i Selimi (the collected poems of Sultan Selim I, r.1512–20) now in the Istanbul University Library, inv.no. F.1330, displaying its influence on Ottoman manuscript illustration (see Atil 1987, p.70).

Selections From The Poetry Of Mir Ali-shir Nava'i in Turkish, Copied by 'Abd al-Rahim al-Ya'qubi, Persia, Aq-Qoyunlumagnifing glass


An Extremely Rare and Important Manuscript Copy of Dua Al-Usbuiyyah Copied by Mehmed Cemal Al-Din Amasi, Turkey

Turkey - Dated 888 AH/1483 AD

The present work belongs to a small group of early Ottoman manuscripts produced by calligraphers of the so-called Amasya school in the fifteenth century. The text of the manuscript consists of seven prayers, each dedicated to one day of the week.

Other than the piece to hand, there is only one other known manuscript copied by Mehmed Cemal Amasi, a Qur'an in the Museum of Turkish and Islamic Art (Inv. No.97), Istanbul, dated 1507. The Istanbul Qur'an provides ample testimony to the scribes proficiency in Naskh and Riqa' scripts. However, the real mastery of Mehmed Cemal can be observed in the present manuscript, with the employment of three different calligraphic styles; Muhaqqaq, Thuluth and Rayhani. The manuscript was transcribed twenty-four years earlier than the Istanbul manuscript and furthermore, the gold applied on the whole text and the finesse of the binding indicate a royal patronage. We have many good reasons to believe that the patron of the manuscript was Sultan Bayazid II's elder son Prince Ahmed (d.1516), governor of Amasya.

Prince Ahmed's interest in the arts is well known and other works of art are recorded which bear benedictory inscriptions in his name. Indeed it is possible that the Prince might have employed Cemal Amasi as a response to his father's sincere affection for Shaykh Hamdullah, the court calligrapher in Istanbul.

Calligraphic works of Amasi masters are extremely rare, and they display an innovative approach to the canonisation of certain scripts, marking a turning point in the history of Islamic calligraphy. Documenting the departure from the school of Yaq'ut al-Mustasimi, works of Amasi calligraphers mark the beginning of a new era in which the proportions of the six main pens (aqlam sittah) were re-established. Mehmed Cemal Amasi's Dua al-Usbuiyyah is a masterpiece of early Ottoman calligraphy, displaying the crystalline perfection of the scribe's hand in three different calligraphic scripts, whilst documenting the birth and evolution of the Amasya school which had an immense impact on the formation of the canonic styles of Ottoman calligraphy.

Mehmed Cemal b. Celal al-Din Amasi (d. circa 1510)
Born in Amasya, Mehmed Cemal Amasi studied calligraphy under the supervision of his father Celal al-Din Amasi. He was responsible for the monumental inscriptions of the Mosque of Sultan Bayazid II, built in 1486 in Amasya. Mehmed Cemal Amasi was a relation of the famous court calligrapher Sheikh Hamdullah (d.1526), and it is likely that he moved to Istanbul after Hamdullah's arrival there in 1481. His brother Muhiddin Amasi, his father Celal Amasi and his grandfather Ahmed Amasi were all leading calligraphers of the period.

An Extremely Rare and Important Manuscript Copy of Dua Al-Usbuiyyah Copied by Mehmed Cemal Al-Din Amasi, Turkeymagnifing glass



Turkey, Dated 1284 AH/1867 AD, Dimensions: 27.5 x 36.5 cm

Comprising an upper line in bold thuluth script in black, two lines beneath in neat naskh script, two cartouches underneath containing the details of the ijazat, decorated with polychrome rococo flowers against a gold ground punched with cintamani motifs (iğne perdahtı), laid down on an album page with borders of further rich rococo designs. This Ottoman calligrapher’s licence gives the name of the student as Isma’il Fakhri Efendi, and the teachers as Ibrahim Sukuti, and Mehmed Hulusi.

His second teacher, Mehmed Hulusi, was from Kastamonu. He was a pupil of calligrapher Mahmud Raci and calligrapher Ali Vasfi. His most celebrated student was Mehmed Shevki Efendi. He was appointed as preacher to the Nusretiye Mosque. He passed away in Istanbul, in 1874. Please see Sevket Rado’s Turk Hattatlari, Istanbul, 1980, p. 215.

Provenance: Private Collection from the United Arab Emirates