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Ottoman Book on Calligraphy - Manuscript Zoom

Ottoman Book on Calligraphy - Manuscript


A beautifully handcrafted early 19th century book with the basics of the Arabic alphabet and calligraphy includes gilt manuscript with the letters, their combinations and the basic verses taught in schools.

Author: Anon.
Place and Year: [Ottoman Empire, probably 1820s].
Code: 67758

8°: [16] reverse collation, manuscript in black ink with gilt details, with first and last page originally mounted on endpapers, original gold paper boards, red cloth spine, blue endpapers with embossed floral details, two heart shaped paper labels with manuscript in black ink and grey and red pencil in Ottoman language on the front endpaper (first two pages fragile in margins due to the gilt decoration, with small loss of paper, but not effecting the illustrations or the script, tears in the second page repaired with old tape in margins and not affecting the manuscript on the back, the rest of the sheets in generally good clean condition with tiny holes and very light staining in the margins of some sheets, last two pages with tiny worm holes in white margins, gilt boards slightly age toned and with light wear on the corners)


The beautifully made primer with the basics of the Arabic script was made in the Ottoman Empire in the early 19th century, probably for pupils from a noble or rich family training in calligraphy.

The first two pages, elaborately illuminated with floral patters and gilt background in the margins, list in charts the basic letters. Written over the right chart are the verses from the Quran:

اعوذ بالله من الشيطان الرجيم [I seek refuge in Allah from the cursed Satan] and
رب يسر ولا تعسر رب تمم بالخير [My Lord, make things easy, never make them hard, my Lord complement this matter with goodness].

The study of script of Arabic letters in traditional schools always started with the latter phrase. The teacher writes the phrase and the student re-writes it until he or she reaches an acceptable level to move to the letters.

The sign on the upper part of the left part says:

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم [In the name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate].

The first two elaborately made pages are follower by 28 pages with gilt charts including various combinations of the letters.

The last four pages are inscribed by verses on the alphabet, starting with the word game on the Arabic alphabet:

أبجد هوز حطي كلمن سعفص قرشت ثخذ ضظغ

and with verses from the Quran, which the students had to transcribe to perfect their writing.

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