Milestones In Writing
1-THE İNCE MINARELI MADRASAH
Built in 1354 by the Seljuk vizier Sahip Ata for the teaching of science, the İnce Minareli, or Slender Minaret, Madrasa has on its portal inscriptions that exhibit the aesthetic and scientific sensibilities of the period. Inscribed on it are the Al-Fatiha and Al-Ya Sin suras of the Quran in Seljuk Thululh, together with geometric and vegetal motifs carved in relief.
2-THE TREATY OF KADDESH
Known to have been written in the 13th century B.C., the Treaty of Kaddesh, which is preserved in the Istanbul Archaeological Museum today, is the first treaty ever signed between two states. Written in the Akkadian language, the tablet bears the signatures of the Egyptians and the Hittites.
3-THE ORKHUN INSCRIPTIONS
The most important monuments of pre-Islamic Turkish culture are, without a doubt, the Tonyukuk, Kul Tigin and Bilge Khagan inscriptions. These texts, inscribed in stone, illuminate the history of the Turks prior to Islam, describing the philosophy of the Turkish state, its social structure and organization, as well as its rulers and their responsibilities to the people. In short, they illuminate both the internal and external structure of Turkish society. The Tonyukuk inscription was erected around 726 at Nalayh, some 40 km east of the Mongolian capital, Ulan Bator. The Kul Tigin and Bilge Khagan inscriptions were erected in 732 and 735 near Lake Koshu Tsaidam in the Orkhon river valley some 460 km to the west. The Tonyukuk inscription consists of two stones. Mentioned here in particular are his acts of founding the second Göktürk State and bringing the other Turkic tribes in Central Asia to submission, as well as the rise of the state and similar topics. The Kul Tigin and Bilge Khagan inscriptions on the other hand describe events in Bilge’s own words. After mentioning the creation of the world, the inscription goes on to chronicle the independence won in protracted struggles by Bumin, father of the founders of the Göktürk state, and his brother or uncle Istemi Yabgu, the failures of the succeeding khagans, their betrayal of the people and complicity with the Chinese, and the intrigues engaged in by the Chinese to divide the Gök Türks.(Prof. Dr. Ahmet Taşağıl-Mimar Sinan University)
Its foundations laid in 1232, the Alhambra Palace is considered one of the finest examples of Islamic architecture from the period of the Andalusian Muslims. The calligraphic inscriptions on its walls are barely distinguishable from decorations and aesthetic patterns.
5-THE FIRST HOLY QURAN
The first transcriptions of the Holy Quran, commissioned in six copies by the Caliph Othman, are exhibited in various museums around the world today. Its was thanks to these Qurans, one copy of which is preserved in Topkapı Palace, that the Holy Book was sent to major Islamic centers like Mecca, Damascus, Egypt and Yemen.
6-THE MONUMENTUM ANCYRANUM
Inscriptions recounting in his own words the deeds of the first Roman Emperor Augustus were engraved in Latin on the interior walls of this temple’s pronaos (vestibule) and in the locally spoken form of ancient Greek on the southeast facade of the cella. Known as the “Queen of Inscriptions”, they constitute the sole example of a bilingual inscription that has survived intact to our day from the Eastern Roman Empire.(Prof. Dr. Musa Kadıoğlu-Ankara University)
7-THE EGYPTIAN OBELISK
Although the columns and obelisks that are an integral part of Istanbul’s identity have succumbed to natural disasters and destruction over time, some of them have managed to remain standing today. The obelisk brought from Egypt and erected on the Istanbul hippodrome by the Roman Emperor Theodosius in 390 A.D. is an example of Egyptian hieroglyphics. The obelisk, which stands 24.87 meters high together with its plinth and weighs 200 tons, was originally erected in front of the Temple of Karnak at Luxor to commemorate a victory won by Thutmose III, who ruled Egypt in 1150 B.C.
8-THE FOUNTAIN OF HAMIDIYE
Hamidiye Fountain, commissioned in 1903 by Sultan Abdülhamid II, and adorned with the calligraphy of Sami Efendi, is located in the Yıldız Palace garden. It is one of the most beautiful testaments to Turkish stone workmanship for its architecture as well as its inscription.
9-THE NEVŞEHIR TABLETS
The inscription is called TOPADA and is near the village of Acıgöl in Nevşehir. It dates to the 8th century BC and concerns the deeds of a "Great King" called Wasusarma, who was subsequently removed from power by the Assyrian Empire.
10-THE CALLIGRAPHER SULTANS
The Ottoman sultans' interest in calligraphy could be said to be the bridge that has brought this art to our day. Sultan Bayezid II, Mahmud II, Mustafa II, Ahmed III, Suleiman II, Murad IV, Ahmed I, Sultan Aldulmejid and Vahdeddin Efendi were all calligrapher sultans. You may see this panel by Almed III and more at Topkapı Palace Museum.
11-THE WRITING AND FLOW OF TIME
“Whispers of Extinct Languages - II” is an exhibition that bears witness to the evolution of calligraphy from its birth in pictures and describes the influence of writing and language on societies. You can visit the exhibition at Kadir Has University’s Rezan Has Museum, April 24 to July 1.
12-LOVE FOR THE PROPHET IN ISTANBUL
The collection of personal effects of the Prophet Muhammad not previously exhibited together can be seen in the “Love of the Prophet” exhibition, April 8 to July 15, to mark the 1,443rd year of His birth. The first part of the exhibition can be visited at the Topkapı Palace Imperial Treasury. The second part of the exhibition, at the Hagia Sophia, features a collection of calligraphic works on the theme of the Prophet.
13-ON THE TRAIL OF MODERN CALLIGRAPHY
You can visit “On the Trail of the Letters”, a modern calligraphy exhibition by an architect, Ali Toy, who has distinguished himself in both the classical and modern forms of calligraphy, at Zeytinburnu Culture Center through May 10.