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20 January 2014 “500 Years of Islamic Calligraphy Exhibition is Open
“500 Years of Islamic Calligraphy Exhibition is Open

The Ministry of Culture, in cooperation with Turkish Sakip Sabanci Museum has organized an exhibition showcasing exceptional masterworks of Islamic calligraphy, which was officially opened by H.E Shaikha Mai Bint Mohammad Al-Khalifa, at the Bahrain National Museum . The prized show was inaugurated in the presence of many diplomats and lovers of historical calligraphy and art heritage. Sakip Sabancı Museum’s collection consists of a documentation of different historical periods, state and Sultans heritage, Turkish writer’s, select samples from the early Turkish painting, and works of foreign artists who had worked in Istanbul during the last period of the Ottoman Empire.

Expressing her happiness at the ever-strengthening solidarity, friendship and comprehensive co-operation between the two countries, H.E Shaikha Mai Bint Mohammad Al-Khalifa, Minister of Culture hoped the Islamic calligraphy heritage would promote unite art lovers all over the region and the world, saying “ Manama, city of art, is capable to embrace aesthetics and beauty wherever they might be and whenever they come”. The Minister of Culture added saying that “ We are here to witness the unique beauty of this rare collection, which does not only documents Turkish history, but also the whole region, unraveling Man’s relationship with the language of art, as being reflected in weaving his destiny with threads of creativity”.


The Sakıp Sabancı Museum Collection of the Arts of the Book and Calligraphy consists of more than 200 examples illuminated Korans, prayer books, calligraphic compositions, albums and panels written by well-known calligraphers, illuminated official documents bearing the imperial cipher of the Ottoman sultans as well as calligrapher’s tools, all produced during a period extending from the end of the 14th century to the 20th century. Sakıp Sabancı (d. 2004) started collecting primarily calligraphic works and illuminated Korans in the 1970s. The founder of Selected examples of illuminated Korans and prayer books dating from the 16th to early 20th centuries, with calligraphy by Istanbul artists, some of whom served as calligraphy teacher to the sultans, large calligraphic panels, again by Istanbul artists, that were hung on walls like paintings, and albums of calligraphic compositions will be included in the planned exhibition in BahrainMuseum, which is attached to Sabanci University, was the late Sakip Sabanci, one of Turkey's leading businessmen. In the 1970s, he began to collect paintings by Turkey's leading artists and foreign painters who worked for the Ottoman sultans, as well as illuminated manuscripts and calligraphy.

Today Sakip Sabanci’s collection of rare books and calligraphy is exhibited at the Sakip Sabanci Museum (SSM). This is the only museum in Istanbul and Turkey with a permanent exhibition of illuminated manuscripts and calligraphy. the Arts of the Book and Calligraphy Collection was re-launched with a new design and a contemporary display, including 200 works of Islamic Art written by well-known calligraphers, all produced during a period extending from the end of the 14th century to the 20th century


Among the private collections in Istanbul, SSM has the finest collection of Turkish-Islamic arts of the book. Selected examples of illuminated Korans and prayer books dating from the 16th to early 20th centuries, with calligraphy by Istanbul artists, some of whom served as calligraphy teacher to the sultans, large calligraphic panels, again by Istanbul artists, that were hung on walls like paintings, and albums of calligraphic compositions will be included in the planned exhibition in Bahrain. SSM also has a collection of outstanding examples of Turkish painting. Besides handwritten Qurans and prayer manuals, there are framed inscriptions, calligraphic collages, deeds of trust, decrees bearing the stylized signature of the sultan, and documents such as titles of privilege and royal patents, as well as calligraphic instruments on exhibit here, including, for example, a decree, dated December 1459, written in the Divanî script and bearing the signature of Mehmed the Conqueror; a Quran penned by Bayezid II’s son, Crown Prince Korkut; a verse panegyric written for Bayezid II; a calligraphic exercise in the Thuluth script by Ahmed Karahisarî, a renowned calligrapher from the period of Süleyman the Magnificent; a silver inkpot and writing set belonging to the 17th century calligraphic master, Hafız Osman; pen-cases, and many other items

Since 1989 the collection has been exhibited in major European and American museums. In 2002 Sakip Sabanci donated his historical mansion in Emirgan a district on the Bosphorus in Istanbul where he had lived with his family for many years to Sabanci University to use as a museum. From 1989 onwards the collection was exhibited in major museums abroad. The keen interest attracted by these exhibitions cemented Sakıp Sabancı and his family’s resolve to further enlarge the collection and encouraged the idea of founding a museum Examples of those depicting the arts of the book and calligraphy and landscapes in oil showing Istanbul and its environs by painters who lived in Istanbul in the 19th and 20th centuries have also been selected to show in the exhibition.

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