An illuminated levha with the name of the celebrated Sufi Sayyid Abu'l Hasan 'Ali ash-Shadhili incorporated into an Imperial tughra, signed by the Ottoman Sultan Ahmad III (reg. 1703–1730) Ottoman Turkey, Constantinople, dated AH 1138/ AD 1725-26
Lot 22*
An illuminated levha with the name of the celebrated Sufi Sayyid Abu'l Hasan 'Ali ash-Shadhili incorporated into an Imperial tughra, signed by the Ottoman Sultan Ahmad III (reg. 1703–1730)
Ottoman Turkey, Constantinople, dated AH 1138/ AD 1725-26
Sold for £11,875 (US$ 19,390) inc. premium

Lot Details
An illuminated levha with the name of the celebrated Sufi Sayyid Abu'l Hasan 'Ali ash-Shadhili incorporated into an Imperial tughra, signed by the Ottoman Sultan Ahmad III (reg. 1703–1730)
Ottoman Turkey, Constantinople, dated AH 1138/ AD 1725-26
black ink with some colour and gold, on a rectangular panel of speckled cream-coloured thick paper, borders ruled in gold and black, inner spaces of tughra filled with intertwining gilt vegetal motifs interspersed with deep red flower heads decorated with blue dots, flanked by two European-style floral sprays possibly added at a later date, some discoloration, two holes repaired otherwise in good condition, laid down with some creasing on a rectangular wood panel, outer borders decorated with an undulating gilt tulip motif, backed with red velvet
paper 210 x 351 mm.; panel 276 x 414 mm.

Footnotes

  • Provenance:
    From the estate of Ambassador George C. McGhee (1912-2005), US Assistant Secretary for State for the Near East, South Asia and Africa 1949; US Ambassador to Turkey 1951-53 and to Germany 1963-68. His interests were wide-ranging and he collected primarily during the 1940s-70s.

    Proceeds from the sale of this lot will be used to support the programs and operations of the McGhee Foundation, Middleburg, VA.

    The inscriptions read: hazret-e shaykh sayyid 'ali abu'l-hasan shadhili qaddasa sirrahu, 'His Excellence Shaykh Sayyid 'Ali Abu'l-Hasan Shadhili, [God] sanctify his secret'; and min khameh-ye ahmad bin muhammad khan sannat AH 1138, 'From the pen of Ahmad bin Muhammad Khan AD 1725-26'.

    For a comparable panel from an Imperial album written by Sultan Ahmad III, dated 1727, in the Topkapi Palace Library, see The Anatolian Civilisations III: Seljuk/Ottoman, Istanbul 1983, pp. 290-91, E. 314.

    The Ottoman Sultan Ahmad III, the son of Sultan Muhammad IV, was known as 'The Hunter' and his reign called the 'Tulip Age' because of the popularity and fashion for that flower in Constantinople and Europe in the early 18th Century. He was well educated by the most famous scholars of the day and was known as a poet and calligrapher. Sultan Ahmad was a cultivated patron of the arts and literature and it was during his reign that Ibrahim Muteferrrika set up a printing press using Arabic and Ottoman Turkish letters in Constantinople. He established good relations with England and France and gave refuge to Charles XII of Sweden after his defeat by Peter the Great of Russia.

    Like many of his ancestors who were also poets and calligraphers, Sultan Ahmad would have been familiar with the works of celebrated Sufis such as Rumi, Ibn 'Arabi and ash-Shadhili, and many of the Sufi orders which were firmly established in Konya and Sivas and other towns in Anatolia and in other parts of the Ottoman Empire.

    Abu'l Hasan ash-Shadhili (1196-1258) was an influential North African scholar and Sufi who founded the Shadhili Sufi Order. He was born near Ceuta in Morocco and descended from a family of Sayyids of the Hasani Idrissites. Ash-Shadhili travelled extensively in Tunisia, Egypt and Iraq in search of knowledge at the hands of famous scholars and Sufis. He died in Humaithra, Egypt, while on his way to perform the pilgrimage to Mecca in 1258.
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