Lessons in calligraphy, foreign languages, and literature were an essential part of the curriculum for Ottoman royal children, particularly the princes, who had private tutors at the Ottoman palace. Thus, they learned to read books in different languages and write with a calligraphic hand at an early age. Members of the dynasty wanted to own rare and illuminated manuscripts, commissioned their production, and founded libraries, to which they donated books from their collections.
Some members of the dynasty with a talent for and interest in calligraphy wrote manuscript texts and calligraphic inscriptions such as kıt’a and levha. Like other contemporary calligraphers, Sultan Ahmed III (r. 1703-1730) and other calligrapher sultans wrote inscription panels known as levha to be hung on walls. Archival documents show that from the 19th century onwards, records were kept of the calligraphic panels in the palace that were written by the sultans. Their large number suggests that the sultans wrote them both before their succession and during their reigns.
Calligrapher sultans regarded it as almost a spiritual duty to write inscriptions to hang on the walls of mosques they founded or repaired, as well as other sacred spaces. Sultans who were not accomplished calligraphers had the buildings they founded decorated with inscriptions in styles they chose according to their personal tastes. Others who were skilled at calligraphy, like Sultan Abdülmecid (r. 1839-1861), commissioned typefaces in the calligraphic styles they preferred and encouraged printers to use them. These individuals grew up with a love of books and created a fertile environment for the production of calligraphy, in which they themselves were involved.
Dr. Ayşe Aldemir began her undergraduate studies at Hacettepe University Department of Art History in 1995 and graduated in first place in 1999. The same year she began a postgraduate degree at Bilkent University Department of Archaeology and Art History and completed all the classes. In 2000 she was awarded a scholarship by Sabancı University to attend a Paper Conservation and Restoration program in Italy, and in 2003 she graduated from the Palazzo Spinelli, Istituto per l’Arte e il Restauro in Florence. In 2007 she enrolled in the master’s degree program at Yeditepe University Department of Art Management, graduating in 2009. She was awarded her doctorate in Turkish Islamic Arts by Mimar Sinan University of Fine Arts Department of Art History in 2021. She has worked at Sabancı University Sakıp Sabancı Museum since 2003 as curator of the Arts of the Book and Calligraphy Collection.