In The Beginning Was The Word . .

Sixty years ago, in the middle of my newt, slow-worm and birds’ nesting period, I was ‘introduced’ to two amazing images that left indelible impressions and a passion that has lasted to this day.

The first was of the classic view of the Lion Courtyard at la Alhambra and the second was of Arabic calligraphy. The impact of those images kindled a fire that smoldered over the years. I determined that one day I would spend time at the Alhambra and some ten years ago we had an emotional reunion. Here in Turkey, with its history and tradition of calligraphy, I have been able to enjoy and indulge my passion for the Arabic script with visits to exhibitions and some modest collecting.

J and I were in Istanbul recently to visit with friends and take in a couple of exhibitions, we added the Sakip Sabancı Müzesi in Emirgan to the list because of its fantastic collection of Arabic calligraphy and books. The museum is housed in and around the former family mansion and the rooms and beautiful gardens give a fascinating insight into the life and lifestyle of the Sabancıs.

The astonishing private collection of calligraphy and books is exhibited in an extension to the old house that brings you the very latest concepts in display – the Sabancı Museum is a very classy place indeed. There is also a classy entrance fee policy (in my opinion) which gives free admission to ‘wrinklies’ over 65 and there’s a classy restaurant to boot!

All-in-all this is a really worthwhile place to visit – here are a few full-frontal photos of my passion/obsession – maybe they will turn you on too!

beautiful example of the calligrapher’s art

‘Priceless’ in every sense

illuminated Qur’ân

iPad video showing the craftsman at work

‘Besmele-i Şerif’ by Nesrin Şatır (my collection – not original but Fine Art reproduction)

by Tuğrakes Hakkı Bey (1873-1946) Fine Art repro from my collection

tuğra of Sultan Muhmud II by modern master İsmet Ketin on raw silk (my collection)

Berat or citation period of Abdulhamit II (my collection)

original by modern master İsmet Ketin signed and dated 1992 (my collection)

a naive tuğra of Şehzade Ahmed by young calligrapher Bahçet Dinger (my collection)

. . and finally the star of my collection – an original page of the Holy Qur’ân dated approx 1630-40.

a precious piece of history

Alan Fenn, Okçular Köyü

20 thoughts on “In The Beginning Was The Word . .

  1. Oh, Alan, We’re blown away! We are also great lovers of Arab script but really haven’t taken the time to learn much. Your private collection is truly wonderful – the ‘star’ of your collection is priceless. We will have to make it up to the Sabanci for this exhibit – no excuse, really. (BTW, we’re also impressed that they have respect for the elderly up there!).

  2. So very beautiful, each piece look like a piece of art – Sabanci Museum is one of my favorite too, they really do a great job. You are in the right place to enjoy calligraphy : )

  3. Beautiful. It’s truly amazing how hard work, talent and awesome dedication can turn the skill of writing into an art form. Thanks again for sharing this.

    1. . . they are beautiful, something that that I never tire of looking/studying. Glad you enjoyed the post.

  4. Alan– this Arabic calligraphy is absolutely gorgeous – amazing works of art. It is interesting to compare and contrast to Chinese calligraphy. Traditionally who were the calligraphers? Were they just men? What level were they at on society?

    1. traditionally they were men who were employed by the rich and powerful to produce documents and, in the case of the Ottomans, amazing tuğra (tuhra) or signatures and religious works. The best of them were revered and honoured. These days there are a number of brilliant women calligraphers here in Turkey who produce wonderful pieces.

  5. Its gorgeous. I obviously didn’t understand the script but it was just beautiful to look at. The calligraphy looks pretty much similar to the Chinese calligraphy. The photo of the Illuminated Quran is really beautiful. You are really lucky, Alan, that you got to see some beautiful work of art. Thanks a lot for such a great share!

    1. I’m delighted that you enjoyed the post – I’m sorry for the delay in replying, your comment was flagged and with everything that is going on here in Turkey I was a little distracted.

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