History of the Osmanli Calligraphic Tradition

Şeyh Hamdullah (d. 1520) is known as the “father of Ottoman calligraphy.” Indeed, the renowned artist ushered in a new age of calligraphic arts in the Ottoman empire with his revitalization of the so-called six scripts (sulus [thuluth], nesih [naskh], muhakkak, reyhani, tevki’ [tawki], and riqa’), especially nesih (naskh). Şeyh Hamdullah succeeded in this important task around the year 1485, after he had undergone a four-month period of spiritual seclusion. This accomplishment promoted him to the position of spiritual founder (pîr) of Turkish calligraphy.

 

The Ottoman Turks have been at the forefront of this remarkable and fascinating art, “hüsn-i hat,” or “hat” in short (from ‘khat’ in Arabic), for over five centuries. Despite originating from elsewhere and from amongst others, the most magnificent examples of hüsn-i hat are from Turks who adopted the art with tremendous religious fervour and passion.

As students of calligraphy, we strive to learn the tools and techniques of the art, but equally important are the people, our teachers, who preserve and carry this tradition in every generation. One such person who played a major role in the development and revival of the tradition of Arabic calligraphy in our time is undoubtedly Turkish Grand Master Hasan Çelebi.

Hasan Çelebi Hoca is by far the most distinguished representative of the art of Islamic Calligraphy in modern times. A student of the last representative of the Ottoman school of calligraphy, Hamid Aytaç Hoca, he is our current link to the tradition of Arabic calligraphy. A venerated teacher who has been teaching this art since 1976, he has produced many notable and successful calligraphers including Mohamed Zakariya, Davut Bektaş, Ayten Tiryaki, Ferhat Kurlu, Ahmet Kutluhan, Efdaluddin Kilinc, Muhammad Hobe and our teachers Haji Noor Deen and Shahryanshah Sirajuddin.