An illuminated Qur'an attributed to Shaykh Hamdullah (b. circa 1436-37
Lot 10
An illuminated Qur'an attributed to Shaykh Hamdullah (b. circa 1436-37, d. 1520), known as Ibn al-Shaykh al-Amasi Ottoman Turkey, probably Constantinople, late 15th Century
£40,000 - 60,000
US$ 67,000 - 100,000
Auction Details
An illuminated Qur'an attributed to Shaykh Hamdullah (b. circa 1436-37, d. 1520), known as Ibn al-Shaykh al-Amasi Ottoman Turkey, probably Constantinople, late 15th Century An illuminated Qur'an attributed to Shaykh Hamdullah (b. circa 1436-37, d. 1520), known as Ibn al-Shaykh al-Amasi Ottoman Turkey, probably Constantinople, late 15th Century An illuminated Qur'an attributed to Shaykh Hamdullah (b. circa 1436-37, d. 1520), known as Ibn al-Shaykh al-Amasi Ottoman Turkey, probably Constantinople, late 15th Century An illuminated Qur'an attributed to Shaykh Hamdullah (b. circa 1436-37, d. 1520), known as Ibn al-Shaykh al-Amasi Ottoman Turkey, probably Constantinople, late 15th Century
Lot Details
An illuminated Qur'an attributed to Shaykh Hamdullah (b. circa 1436-37, d. 1520), known as Ibn al-Shaykh al-Amasi
Ottoman Turkey, probably Constantinople, late 15th Century
Arabic manuscript on paper, 372 leaves, 13 lines to the page written in elegant naskhi script in black ink, diacritics and vowel points in black and red, gold roundels between verses, sura headings in gold on red cross-hatched panels with floral motifs in blue, one double-page frontispiece in colours and gold, oval shamsa in colours and gold containing a pious inscription in riqa' script in white, marginal verse, hizb, and juz markers in naskhi script in blue ink, occasional stylised marginal floral devices in colours and gold, colophon states that the manuscript was copied by Shaykh Hamdullah, ownership inscription in Turkish below, some smudging, 19th Century tan morocco with floral tooled design in gold, worn, in modern slipcase
172 x 120 mm.

Footnotes

  • Provenance:
    Formerly in the possession of Pertevniyal, wife of Sultan Mahmud II (reg. 1808-39) and mother of Sultan Abdulaziz (reg. 1861-76).
    Christie's, Islamic Art and Manuscripts, 27th April 2004, lot 51.

    Pertevniyal, who died in 1883, was best known for her charitable endowments, including fountains and schools, though the most prominent are the Pertevniyal Valide Sultan Mosque (1868-71) and the Pertevniyal Lyceum in Aksaray. The ownership inscription reads:
    Mahmud Han gancasi Abdulaziz Han hazretlerinin Validesi Pertevniyal her kim kiraat ederse hayir dua matlub olunur
    'The bud of Mahmud Han the mother of his grace Abdulaziz Han whoever reads [the Qur'an] blessing [for her] is demanded.'

    Shaykh Hamdullah and his influence:
    Shaykh Hamdullah, who was born in Amasya in northern central Anatolia, was in effect the creator of Ottoman calligraphy and perhaps its greatest exponent. He learned and developed the six scripts from Hayreddin Mar'ashi, a follower of the 13th Century calligrapher Yaqut al-Musta'simi. Hamdullah taught Prince Bayezid, son of Mehmet the Conqueror, while the former was governor of Amasya. He had already been employed at court and is known to have copied at least two medical manuscripts for Sultan Mehmed II. On the prince's accession to the throne as Sultan Bayezid II (reg. 1481-1512), Hamdullah went with the new Sultan and became master scribe in Constantinople. It is reported that the Sultan - such was his respect for him - used to hold Hamdullah's inkwell for him as he wrote. Secure in his position at the palace, and receiving a substantial salary, he perfected his calligraphy, making naskhi script the most elegant and legible for use in manuscripts of the Qur'an.

    Copying the Qur'an occupied most of Hamdullah's career. He is said to have produced 47 copies, as well as other religious and calligraphic works. After Bayezid's death, under Sultan Selim I, Hamdullah retired to a Naqshbandi establishment near Constantinople (he may have migrated to this order of sufis from the Suhrawardi order, in which his father had been a shaykh). It has been suggested that his retirement was due to his close association with the Halveti Order. It was well known that the new Sultan distrusted the Halveti Brotherhood, and believed that their patron, Koca Mustafa Pasha, was involved in the death of his grandfather and uncle Cem. When Suleyman the Magnificent acceded to the throne he asked Hamdullah to copy a Qur'an for him, but the scribe declined on the grounds of ill health, and did in fact die shortly afterwards. (See J. Raby, Turkish Bookbinding in the 15th Century, London 1993, pp. 96-100 and 166-67, no. 23). His work continued to have great influence on Ottoman calligraphy until the breakup of the Empire: he was known as Qiblat al-Khuttat, the Calligraphers' Point of Orientation.

    Although there are many calligraphic album pages signed by or attributed to Hamdullah, there are very few signed copies of the Qur'an in private collections. Several Qur'ans copied by him are in Turkish public collections: there is one written for Sultan Bayezid II in 1496, now in the Topkapi Palace (EH 72; see D. J. Roxburgh (ed.), Turks: a Journey of a Thousand Years 600-1600, London 2005, pp. 296-97, no. 253, p. 441). Three other copies are in the Topkapi Library, dated 1492, 1499 and 1503 respectively (see The Anatolian Civilisations III, Istanbul 1983, E. 14 & 16). A copy from the collection of Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan was exhibited in Geneva: see T. Falk, ed., Treasures of Islam, Geneva 1985, no. 105; and ibid., Islamic Calligraphy, Geneva 1988, no. 37. For a Qur'an in the Nasser D. Khalili Collection with very similar sura headings and verse markers, see D. James, After Timur, Oxford 1992, pp. 70-75, no. 18.

    For further reading:
    M. U. Derman, Letters in Gold: Ottoman calligraphy from the Sakip Sabanci Collection, Istanbul, New York 1998, pp. 19, 46-48.
    M. Celal, Seyh Hamdullah, Istanbul 1948.
    F. E. Karatay, Topkapi Sarayi Muzesi Kutuphanesi Arapca Yazmalar Katalogu, I. Kur'an, Kur'an ilimleri, Tefsirler, Istanbul 1962.
    N. F. Safwat, The Art of the Pen, Oxford 1996.

    Available for inspection are copies of the results of a radiocarbon test conducted by the Brussels Art Laboratory, Nuclear Section; a letter discussing the attribution to Shaykh Hamdullah by Professor F. Deroche, Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes, Paris; and a letter from Professor J. J. Witkam, University of Leiden, expressing his opinion on the manuscript.
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