Ayşe Aldemir

Members of the Ottoman dynasty who were calligraphers

November 5, Saturday 16:30 – Sakıp Sabancı Museum

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.


November 5, 2022

09:00 — 10:00

Morning Coffee


Welcome Remarks: Meltem Müftüler Baç

The Dean of Sabancı University Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences


Welcome Remarks: Nazan Ölçer

Director, Sakıp Sabancı Museum


Gerry Leonidas

Arabic typography: a paradigm for research-informed practice


Titus Nemeth

Building bridges: the case for a book that straddles two worlds

11:30 — 12:00

Coffee Break


Orlin Sabev

The Ottoman transition from scribal to print culture: the layout of the Müteferrika prints


Emanuela Conidi

An approach to the study of Arabic foundry type


Onur Yazıcıgil

The Ottoman printers’ 8 pt Naskh typeface and its Turkish type maker Mehmed Emin Efendi

13:30 — 14:30

Lunch Break


Borna Izadpanah

Naskh types from Europe, Ottoman Empire, and Russia in nineteenth-century Iran and their legacy


Özlem Özkal

A curious case of Ottoman Typography: detached Arabic Letters

15:30 — 16:00

Coffee Break


Thomas Milo

Script grammar: a linguistic approach to digitising Islamic script


Ayşe Aldemir

Members of the Ottoman dynasty who were calligraphers


November 6 — 7, 2022

10:00 — 17:00

Borna Izadpanah & Rainer Erich Scheichelbauer

Arabic-script type design workshop: considering the past, designing for the present

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