Turkey (Part 3 & 4) Calligraphic Heaven & Typographic Roots

On the northern hemisphere it is the unofficial last day of summer, just time for one more postcard from sunny Turkey.

Turkey Part 3: Calligraphic Heavens in Istanbul and Konya

Hagia Sophia, Exhibition: Love of the Prophet in the Language of Calligraphy 
The massive Byzantine structure of the Hagia Sophia was erected in 360 as a church, converted to a mosque in 1453 and was finally transformed it into a secular space by Ataturk in 1935. Brilliant decorations delight from both faiths plus we ran across the exhibition, Love of the Prophet in the Language of Calligraphy, which was showing on the ground floor. The 99 pieces came from the collection of Mehmet Çebi. Some of the work was easily 6 feet across or 6 feet high. Hard to show scale here but it is also hard to imagine what sort of writing instrument was used to make these powerful strokes. An explanation of the art from the show brochure states the purpose, “For Muslims who avoid visual representations depicting human beings, especially that of the prophets, the millenary expression within the Islamic tradition allowing for the portrayal of the person of Prophet Muhammad has been the hilya, his pen portrait.”

Ahmet Bursali

Large scale calligraphic works in the Hagia Sophia
Illuminated Koran in the Istanbul Archaeology Museum

A tughra is a calligraphic monogram of an Ottoman sultan. This we believe is the tughra of Selim III,
Sultan of the Ottoman Empire (1789-1807)
Tughras on the entrance door of Topkapi Palace, Istanbul
The tughra was meant primarily for documents and architectural plaques but can be seen on cars, tractors and a
 variety of unexpected places.

Shrine of Mevlana Museum/ Mevlana Mah, Konya

It is embarrassing to admit we’d never heard of Jelaluddin Rumi, the 13th century mystic poet, before arriving in Konya. His shrine is located inside of a complete compound of buildings dedicated to Sufism, a mystical practice of Islam. We had seen the whirling dervish prayer ceremony in Istanbul but this was infinitely more moving. Combine the plaintive flute music that floated over the space with the darkened lighting, the pilgrims, palms held up, crying before the draped tomb and rich tapestries embroidered with golden calligraphy. It makes an impression.

Sufi Whirling Dervishes in prayer, Rumi shrine in rear. (not our pic)
Again we did not take this picture because photography is not allowed and we believe that sacred places are not meant for casual tourist photography. 
(But someone did and posted it on the web…so here it is.)
Rumi’s tomb in a man-made calligraphic heaven.
Taken from a text on the shrine, another view of Rumi’s Tomb

Part 4: Exploring Lettering Roots in the Ruins 
Ephesus, Aphrodisias, Hierapolis, Cappadocia

Temple of Aphrodite, Aphrodisias

The Library of Celsus in Ephesus
Roman and Greek lettering on the Celcus library facade
Greek in brush strokes, note the terminals on the A

Lettering inside an early Christian rock chapel in Cappadocia.
Outside of the rock church in the historical region in Central Anatolia. Homes and churches were carved in the soft rock formations as hiding places for Christians.

Good bye summer 2012

All text and images ©2012 Designhistory.org

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