Calligraphy in Istanbul
There’s a saying that goes, ‘the Quran was revealed in Mecca, recited in Egypt, and written in Istanbul.’ This is 100% accurate. Ottoman calligraphers were the cream of the calligraphy crop, and their legacy lives on today. Schools of art in Istanbul often have a calligraphy faculty, and there exist several master calligraphers in the city who received their Icazets (calligraphy degrees) from the last generation of Ottoman masters, so their teaching creates an unbroken link back to the most famous masters in the history of Islamic art.
Stores like this exist all over the city, selling calligraphy and leaves out of illuminated manuscripts. In the covered market, since most of it caters to stupid tourists, the calligraphy is usually total crap, created by people who didn’t have an Icazet. But in the Sahaflar Carsisi, outside the covered market, there are several professional stores which sell not only framed calligraphy but professional reeds from south-west Iran, professional ink, papers, and calligraphy supplies.
I went there 3 days in a row because I made friends with the owner of one the shops, Ali, who studied for his Icazet from Davut Bektas, one of the best calligraphers in Turkey. The store is like a little secret hideout for all the calligraphers, students and teachers, of Istanbul and from abroad. In the course of the 3 days I was there I met an Iraqi calligrapher from Baghdad named Tariq and a Syrian named Anas, a calligrapher who received his Icazet from Hasan Celebi, the best and most renowned calligrapher in the world, as well as a dozen or so Turks, all studying for their Icazets. It seems calligraphy has been experiencing a renaissance in Turkey, as the second generation of non-Ottomans comes of age.
Happy Birthday Aunt Sue!