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.