'Abd-al-Qadir-Hisari

2

Calligraphic Galleon

Calligrapher:  'Abd al-Qadir Hisari


Illustrated single work

dated A.H. 1180/ A.D. 1766–67

Geography:  Made in Turkey

Culture:  Islamic

Medium: Ink and gold on paper

Dimensions:  H. 19 in. (48.3 cm) W. 17 in. (43.2 cm)

Credit Line:  Louis E. and Theresa S. Seley Purchase Fund for Islamic Art and Rogers Fund, 2003

Accession Number:  2003.241

The hull of this sailing ship comprises the names of the Seven Sleepers and their dog. The tale of the Seven Sleepers, found in pre-Islamic Christian sources, concerns a group of men who sleep for centuries within a cave, protected by God from religious persecution. Both hadith (sayings of the Prophet), and tafsir (commentaries on the Qur'an) suggest that these verses from the Qur'an have protective qualities.

Flanked by two other galleons on the horizon, this carefully drawn imperial calligraphic galleon sits on a row of waves containing aphorisms. The imperial galleon with its wind-filled sails is an example of the sophistication of the Ottoman calligraphic tradition. The distinctive Ottoman imperial insignia (tughra), located on the stern of the square galley, dedicates the drawing to Sultan Mustafa bin Sultan Ahmed III (r. 1757–74) (38.149.1). The prow, deck, hull, and stern of the galleon are a calligram (an image made out of calligraphic phrases). It contains the names of the seven sleepers of Ephesus and their dog Qitmir (35.64.3). The standard on the stern of the boat contains the apotropaic Throne verse (2:255) from the Qur'an. The combination of Qur'anic verse and the names of prophets, saints, and heroes found in the Qur'an endows this calligram with amuletic, auspicious, and talismanic powers. In the sky, like a sun disk, the dated signature of the calligrapher reads: Abdu'l Qadir al-Hisari in Aksehir in A.H. 1180 / 1766 A.D. The frame is composed of Ottoman Turkish poetry venerating the Prophet Muhammad.