W.672: Album of Ottoman Calligraphy

An album (muraqqa‘) of calligraphy in the form of an accordion book put together by an anonymous collector, probably in the 12th century AH/ 18th CE. It consists of leaves bearing fragmentary passages from the Qur’an (Sūrat al-baqara, 2:65-68 and Sūrat al-nisā, 4:103-106), some sayings of the Prophet Muhammad, and two sheets of pen exercises (ḳaralama). Folio 5a bears the name of the celebrated Ottoman calligrapher Şeyh Hamdullah (Ḥamd Allāh al-Amāsī, d. 926 AH /1520 CE).

Calligraphy Folios
Seyh Hamdullah
Turkey, 16th century; decorative borders 18th century

These two pages are attributed to Seyh Hamdullah (died ca. 1520), the most celebrated calligrapher in 16th-century Ottoman Turkey. He was particularly known for his mastery of the “Six Pens,” which refer to a series of rounded scripts developed during the 13th century in Iraq. The Six Pens were often employed for religious texts. These folios are inscribed with passages from Hadith literature (accounts of what the Prophet Muhammad did or said) and are written in naskh and thuluth, two of the Six Pens. Naskh, the smaller hand, is used for the text on the lower portion and thuluth for the top lines. The marbled decorative borders date to the 18th century.

Paper with ink, paint, and gold
W.672, fols. 2b–3a, acquired by Henry Walters