Arabic manuscript on paper, 465 leaves, 11 lines to the page, written in fine Nasta'liq script in black ink, verses separated by segmented gold florets pointed in blue and red, surah headings in white Thuluth script against gold within rectangular panels decorated with polychrome flowers, catch words, marginal devices composed of stellar motifs emanating floral sprays and punched with cintimani motifs, opening double-page illumination in colours and gold with text in cloud bands, the decoration consisting of polychrome vegetal cartouches with an outer border of zig-zag design filled with a rigorous pattern of interlacing split-palmettes and flowering vines, colophon with foliate endpiece in gold, red morocco binding with doublures with gilt-stamped corner pieces and medallions, outer boards with corresponding medallions filled with chinoiserie cloud bands and interweaving flowers, the outer borders filled with large scrolling leafy tendrils, with flap, fitted box with silk and metal-thread decoration in the rococo style, including the tughra of Sultan Abdulmecid (r.1839-61)
Copying the style of Shaykh Hamdullah, particularly in Naskh and Thuluth scripts, and producing replicas of his outstanding works has been a prestigious act among Ottoman calligraphers since the master's decease in 1520.
Among these replicas, the most celebrated is the album signed by Hafiz Osman Efendi (d.1698) in the Topkapi Palace Museum (Inv.No.A.3655). Hafiz Osman has stated in the colophon of this album that he copied an early album by Shaykh Hamdullah letter by letter. Similarly, the Shukrullah Khalife Album (Topkapi Palace Museum. Inv.No.H.2230) was copied from an early album by Shaykh Hamdullah. Furthermore, in the early eighteenth century, calligrapher Mehmed Şeker-zāde was sent to Medina to produce a copy of a Qur'an manuscript by Shaykh Hamdullah in the tomb of the Prophet (Müstakim-zade, 1928, p.419. Suyolcu-zāde, 1942, p.68). This Qur'an manuscript is in the Süleymaniye Library (Yeni Camii No.3).
The present Qur'an, whilst sadly having had its colophon tampered with, shares all the calligraphic style and finesse, as well as the crystalline finish that mark it out as the work of Hafiz Osman, copied from an earlier Qur'an by Shaykh Hamdullah. The re-written part of the colophon of the Qur'an must have originally read:
"Katabahu Osman al-Hafiz (nuqila) min khatt Hamdullah al-Ma'ruf bi-ibn al-Sheikh hamidan-allahi..."
The quality of the illumination and binding of the present Qur'an indicate a royal commission during the seventeenth century, whilst the presence of the beautifully made silk and metal-thread case bearing the tughra of Sultan Abdulmecid (r.1839-61) suggest that during the mid-nineteenth century the manuscript may have undergone conservation, which included the making of a bespoke protective case.
Hafiz Osman (d.1698)
After Shaykh Hamdullah and Ahmed Qarahisari, Hafiz Osman is considered the greatest Ottoman calligrapher. Born in Istanbul in 1642, he perfected his own particular style of Naskh script, which would go on to influence future generations of Ottoman calligraphers. He was also a great teacher and numbered the sultans Mustafa II (r.1695-1703) and Ahmed III (r.1703-30) among his students. A Qur'an copied by Hafiz Osman and dated 1082 AH/1671 AD was sold in these rooms 20 November 1986, lot 326. A panel of calligraphy by Hafiz Osman is included in this sale as lot 110.
Müstakim-zade, Süleyman Saadeddin. Tuhfe-i Hattatin, Istanbul, 1928
Suyolcuzade, Mehmed Necib. Devhatul Kuttab, Istanbul, 1942
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