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.