Visit To Calligraphy Exhibition, Dibeklihan Art Village – 11 June 2010

Visit To Calligraphy Exhibition, Dibeklihan Art Village – 11 June 2010

A group of H3A members visited Dibeklihan for an exclusive lecture on the fine art of Ottoman calligraphy, gilding and mother-of-pearl inlay work by the academic calligrapher Dr Naser Can.

We were introduced to the history and styles of calligraphy under the Ottoman and Persian empires as we walked through the Yıldız Kenter art Gallery at Dibeklihan Arts Village.

Dr. Naser Can was born in Tabriz in Iran, learned Persian, Arabic and Turkish, and in 1979 emigrated to Turkey and gained entry to Istanbul University.  During his studies he gained a position at Topkapı Palace Museum, where in the 1990s there was a revival of interest in and restoration of Ottoman fine decorative arts.  While there he found a new letter, 500 pieces of work and qualified for his PhD.

The Turkish Ottoman word Hatlar used in fine arts includes three branches of decorative arts: calligraphy, where the Arabic language is written in different script; illumination, where the borders and decorations are finely painted; and miniatures which are finely painted scenes of people or animals.

The Ottomans excelled at calligraphy, an art that developed after the Prophet Muhammad died when the successors decided to write the then only, orally recalled passages of the Koran/Qur’an.  The first caliph (successor) was a good calligrapher, and so the practice began.  The first script style was Sufi but others have been developed since.  In Iran the art of calligraphy died out for a time but the Persians excelled in miniatures developing depth and perspective that the Ottomans never achieved.

The materials used in the work are natural, ideally, and the finest brushes are, by repute, made with the hairs from the back of the neck of a cat!  One of the works we saw, for example, had a dense material for the wide border and background and the paint was made out of aged soot from a wood fire and gum arabica.  This latter is a rare and difficult material to source though, as a member of the Iranian Society of Calligraphers, Dr Can can obtain it.

We went on to admire works of mother of pearl by Şehmus Okur and gilding by Serpil Kutluğ around the gallery, before thanking Dr Can for his time and to congratulate him on his work which was on display for the first time outside Istanbul.

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