Calligraphy Qalam: An Introduction to Arabic, Persian and Ottoman Calligraphy uses interactive tools to interest new audiences in Arabic, Ottoman and Persian calligraphy.

Seyh Hamdullah
(1436-1520 A.D.)

Full name:

Hamd Allah al-Amasi, known as Seyh Hamdullah (Seyh is the Turkish word for sheikh)

What he did:

  • Founder of modern Turkish calligraphy
  • Refined the six standard scripts, and was highly esteemed for his writing in the naskh and thuluth scripts (he followed the tradition of Yaqut al Musta‘simi)


  • Born in the region of northern Anatolia
  • Member of a dervish order
  • Studied calligraphy under the master Hayreddin Mar‘asi
  • When his calligraphy student Bayezid II became sultan in 1481, Hamdullah became a member of the royal court
  • The sultan so respected Hamdullah that he held the calligrapher’s inkwell while he wrote
  • When Bayezid II died, Hamdullah fell into disfavor and retired to the country
  • Wrote 47 copies of the Koran, several of which still exist in the Topkapi Palace Museum Library in Istanbul

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Calligraphy by Seyh Hamdullah

Calligraphy by Seyh Hamdullah

Calligraphy by Seyh Hamdullah

Calligraphy by Seyh Hamdullah

"Apart from the obvious beauty of Ottoman calligraphy, what appeals to me is the important relationship between master and apprentice, and the infinite capacity of this art to renew itself from one generation to the next."
~ Sakıp Sabancı, Turkish philanthropist

From: Derman, M. Ugur. Letters In Gold: Ottoman Calligraphy from the Sakıp Sabancı Collection. New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1998.