On the picture: A sultan’s ‘tuğra’: a calligraphic monogram, seal or signature of an Ottoman sultan, that was affixed to all official documents and correspondence. It was also carved on his seal and stamped on the coins minted during his reign. Each sultan generally chose the precise form of his ‘tuğra’ on the day of his accession from specimens prepared for him in advance by the court calligrapher. The first ‘tuğra’ belonged to Orhan I (1284–1359), the second ruler of the Ottoman Empire and it evolved until it reached the classical form in the ‘tuğra’ of Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent (1494–1566). From the early 18th century on, the Imperial ‘tuğra’ tended to grow larger and more elaborate, ironically opposite to the size and importance of the Ottoman empire, which was shrinking.
Islamic calligraphy, also known as ‘Arabic calligraphy’, is the artistic practice of handwriting, calligraphy, and by extension, of bookmaking, in the lands sharing a common Islamic cultural heritage. This art form is based on the Arabic script, which for a long time was used by all Muslims in their respective languages. Ottoman Turkish calligraphy is associated with abstract arabesque motifs on the walls and ceilings of mosques as well as on the page. The calligrapher can pursue different goals: the pure beauty of the line, the readability of the text, the monumentality of the inscription, symmetry, dynamic flow, even the suggestion or contours of an object.
Muslims used calligraphy to represent God, because they denied representing God with images. It is especially revered among Islamic arts since it was the primary means for the preservation of the Koran. Suspicion of figurative art as idolatrous led to calligraphy and abstract depictions becoming a major form of artistic expression in Islamic cultures, especially and particularly in religious contexts.
Correspondent: J.M.Criel, Antwerpen.
Source: (amongst others) Wikipedia.