The Palace and the Arts
‘With their distinguished place in society, the court calligraphers were highly respected by the sultans.’
Calligraphy was led by the palace calligraphers (hattats) who, with their distinguished place in society, were highly respected by the sultans and allowed to view, read and study the most valuable manuscripts in the palace library. Interest and respect for calligraphy never waned throughout the centuries, and despite the corruption seen in other branches of the fine and decorative arts, the art of calligraphy continued to develop and adapt to the taste of different periods.
In the 19th century the Ottoman sultans, preferring a different lifestyle, moved to the Western-style Dolmabahçe and Yıldız Palaces. The end of life in Topkapı Palace saw a change in the sultans’ aesthetic taste and thus the palace workshops came to an end, and the ties between the palace and artistic practice were loosened.
Writing box

Reign of Sultan Abdülmecid I (r. Hegira 1255–78 / AD 1839–61)
Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts
Sultanahmet, Istanbul, Turkey
All the Ottoman sultans were trained in a branch of the arts. Sultan Abdülmecid, who was a very skilled calligrapher himself, used this writing box for his calligraphic practices.