The largest-ever hilye-i şerif exhibition presents 200 examples of classical and modern calligraphic art and 300 antique and unusual rosaries at Istanbul’s Lütfi Kırdar Congress and Exhibition Hall.
The “Aşkı-Nebi ve Zikir Taneleri” exhibition presents the collection of a contemporary Turkish calligraphy collector, Mehmet Çebi, in the world’s largest hilye-i şerif exhibition ever. Unique classical and modern hilye-i şerif and rosaries by master artists are displayed in the exhibit.
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan wrote a foreword for the catalogue of the exhibition and said he appreciated Çebi’s work. “The steps that Çebi took toward this exhibition pave the way for a transformation in Turkey. I hope that this exhibition will enrich our cultural world.”
Erdoğan called the event the “world’s largest hilye-i şerif exhibition.”
“Besides developments in civilization, politics and the economy over the last 10 years, our country has made a distinguished name for itself in the field of science and art. Those who had previously come to Istanbul to collect old calligraphy now come to the city to get new calligraphy, rosaries and hilye,” Erdoğan wrote in the foreword.
200 hilye-i şerif and 300 rosaries on display
The exhibition’s calligraphy collection is known as “hilye-i şerif” (noble description), hilye-i saadet (description of felicity) or “hilye-i nebevi” (the prophetic description) and describes the physical and spiritual features of the Prophet Muhammad as well as his behavior. The works compiled what scholars of the period wrote about the Prophet Muhammad’s characteristics and physical appearance and have an important place in Islamic literature.
Ottoman-era rosaries made of many precious materials like ivory, amber and coral are also on display. There are also rosaries made by contemporary rosary artists using materials like fish teeth, ivory and rhino horn.
Calligraphy artist Seyit Ahmet Bursalı, one of the artists in the exhibit, said he had been working as a calligrapher for 12 years and displayed 17 works in
Çebi said Erdoğan had asked them to open a bigger exhibit. “The last exhibition had only works displaying hilye-i şerif, but this one also includes rosaries. This is the largest exhibition in the world in this field. We have some 300 rosaries and 200 hilye-i şerif works. Most of them are from the Ottoman period.”
Artists such as Hasan Çelebi, Fuad Başar, Hüseyin Türkmen, Mustafa Cemil Efe, Eyüp Kuşçu, Fevzi Günüç, Gürkan Pehlivan and Levent Karaduman also contributed to the exhibition, and international calligraphers such as Ahmet Faris Rızk, Cevat Huran, Said Abuzeroğlu, Abdürrezzak Karakaş, Muhammed Cevatzade, Habip Ramazanpur and İhsan Ahmedi are also participating in the exhibit.
The exhibition, organized by Istanbul Antik Art and supported by Halkbank and Doğuş Group, opened on Jan. 26 under the auspices of the Prime Ministry. In addition to Erdoğan, Culture and Tourism Minister Ömer Çelik, Health Minister Mehmet Müezzinoğlu, Defense Minister İsmet Yılmaz, Doğuş Group CEO Hüsnü Akhan, Halkbank General Director Süleyman Aslan and many artists and art lovers attended the opening ceremony.
The exhibition will continue through Feb. 4 at Istanbul’s Lütfi Kırdar Congress and Exhibition Hall.