Arts of the Book: Manuscripts, Folios, Bindings
Manuscript Of An Ottoman Qur’an
Ottoman, circa 1500 CE
Materials and technique
Ink, opaque watercolour, and gold on paper
39.2 x 26.5 cm
This manuscript is one of the greatest early Ottoman Qur’ans. The colophon in Ottoman Turkish on folio 278r identifies the scribe as Shaykh Hamdallah ibn Mustafa. Although the patron of the manuscript is not named, it may have been Sultan Bayezid II (r. 1481-1512 CE). Shaykh Hamdallah (d. 1520 CE) was one of the most celebrated Ottoman calligraphers. He revised the six canonical scripts of Yaqut and influenced generations of Ottoman calligraphers. Nearly fifty Qu’rans and numerous prayer books and single sheets of religious texts are credited to his hand. A native of Amasya, Shaykh Hamdallah taught the future Ottoman sultan Bayezid II calligraphy while the latter was governor there. Thus began a lifelong relationship that continued throughout the entire reign of Bayezid II. The complete opening chapter of the Qur’an appears on this elaborate double frontispiece in naskh script, a specialty of Shaykh Hamdallah and a standard script for Ottoman Qur’ans. The elongated letter sin in the basmallah and the far-reaching nun that wraps under the gold roundel verse markers add rhythm to the calligraphy and are hallmarks of Shaykh Hamdallah’s style.
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