Sultanahmet, Istanbul, Turkey
Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts
Hegira 911 / AD 1505
Ahmad bin Hasan Qalib-i Fani.
Walnut, ebony, ivory, bone, mosaic-inlay technique.
Height 82 cm, width 56 cm
The body of the cabinet is shaped like a six-sided prism sitting on top of arched feet. A pyramidal cover with 12 sides rises from a 12-cornered drum.
The walnut boards of the cabinet are decorated with inlaid ivory. In some places ebony is used. On the cover, vertical ivory plaques and medallions with pendants have been arranged from the top downwards. The plaques are carved with intricate designs of palmette leaves, Chinese-inspired floral motifs, and spiralling tendrils. On the base of the dome, on top of the drum, carved ivory plaques have been arranged horizontally. These bear Qur'anic verses (2: 255 and 59: 22–4) in thuluth script carved in relief. On the cover itself, as well as its sides, are plaques with more Qur'anic verses 48: 28–9; 3: 18–9; 27: 30).
On the sides of the body, bands of ivory delineate horizontal rectangular panels. The interiors of the corners of these panels have corner pieces of ivory featuring arabesques and palmettes. In the centres of the panels are carved ivory plaques with relief inscriptions in thuluth script which state in Turkish that the cabinet was made in the name of Sultan Bayezid II (r. AH 886–918 / AD 1481–1512) and gives the year hegira 911 / 1505. An ivory plaque beneath the last line of this inscription contains the signature of the maker of the cabinet, again carved in relief: 'Work of Ahmad bin Hasan Qalib-i Fani'.
The arches at the base of the cabinet are decorated with mosaic designs of inlaid ivory coloured green. The three-section finial at the top of the cover is made of ebony and ivory. The interior of the cabinet has three partitions for storing the Qur'an and juz (one-thirtieth) sections thereof.
This wooden Qur'an cabinet inlaid with ivory was made for Sultan Bayezid II by master Ahmed bin Hasan in AH 911 / AD 1505. The rendering of the surfaces and balanced use of materials reflect the stylistic characteristics of Ottoman woodwork of the first half of the 10th / 16th century.
Sultan Bayezid II (r. AH 886–918 / AD 1481–1512)
According to the inscription on the object, it was made in 911 / 1505.
The object was transferred from the tomb of Sultan Selim II (974-82/ 1566-74) in the Ayasofya Mosque, Istanbul, to the Museum in 1926.
Anadolu Medeniyetleri III, Selçuklu-Osmanlı, Istanbul, 1983, No. 19.
çığ, K., “İmzalı Eski çekmece,Cüz ve Hilye-i Saadet Mahfazaları ve Sanatkarları”, Milletlerarası Birinci Türk Sanatları Kongresi, Ankara 1962, pp.101–19.
Levenson, J. A., Circa 1492: Art in the Age of Exploration, Washington D.C., 1991, p.194.
Ölçer, N. et al, Museum of Turkish and Islamic Art, Istanbul, 2002, pp.252–3.
Rogers, J. M., and Ward, R. M., Suleiman the Magnificent, London, 1990.
Gönül Tekeli "Qur’an cabinet" in Discover Islamic Art, Museum With No Frontiers, 2017. http://www.discoverislamicart.org/database_item.php?id=object;ISL;tr;Mus01;21;en
Prepared by: Gönül Tekeli
Translation by: Barry WoodBarry Wood
Barry Wood is Curator (Islamic Gallery Project) in the Asian Department of the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. He studied history of art at Johns Hopkins University and history of Islamic art and architecture at Harvard University, from where he obtained his Ph.D. in 2002. He has taught at Harvard, Eastern Mediterranean University, the School of Oriental and African Studies, and the Courtauld Institute of Art. He has also worked at the Harvard University Art Museums and the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore. He has published on topics ranging from Persian manuscripts to the history of exhibitions., İnci Türkoğluİnci Türkoğlu
İnci Türkoğlu has been working as a tourist guide and freelance consultant in tourism and publishing since 1993. She was born in Alaşehir, Turkey, in 1967. She graduated from the English Department of Bornova Anatolian High School in 1985 and lived in the USA for a year as an exchange student. She graduated from the Department of Electronic Engineering of the Faculty of Architecture and Engineering, Dokuz Eylül University, Izmir, and the professional tourist guide courses of the Ministry of Tourism in 1991. She worked as an engineer for a while. She graduated from the Department of Art History, Faculty of Letters, Ege University, Izmir, in 1997 with an undergraduate thesis entitled “Byzantine House Architecture in Western Anatolia”. She completed her Master's at the Byzantine Art branch of the same department in 2001 with a thesis entitled “Synagogue Architecture in Turkey from Antiquity to the Present”. She has published on art history and tourism.
Translation copyedited by: Mandi Gomez
MWNF Working Number: TR 36
Islamic Dynasties / Period
On display in
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