Journal of Ottoman Calligraphy

Lectures & Editorials on Calligraphy

Hafiz Osman (b Istanbul, 1642; d Istanbul, 1698)

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(b Istanbul, 1642; d Istanbul, 1698)Ottoman calligrapher. Son of a muezzin at the Haseki Sultan Mosque, he memorized the Koran at an early age and became known as Hafiz (Arab.: ‘he who knows the Koran by heart’). The Ottoman grand vizier Mustafa Pasha encouraged him to study with the Dervish ‛Ali Mustafa al-Ayyubi (d 1668) and then with Nafaszada Sayyid Ismail Efendi. Hafiz Osman attained his degree at the age of 18 and spent most of his life teaching and writing. His pupils ranged from the Sultans Mustafa II (reg 1695–1703) and Sultan Ahmad III (reg 1703–30) to poor students for whom he set aside one day a week. Considered the second most important Ottoman calligrapher after Seyh Hamdullah, Hafiz Osman evolved a simple, pure style of naskh based on that of Yaqut al-musta‛simi and Seyh Hamdullah. This style became the model for later calligraphers such as Mustafa Raqim Efendi, Mahmud Cemaledin Efendi (d 1829) and Mustafa Izzet Efendi. Hafiz Osman was also responsible for the development of dīvānī jalī, an ornamental script used in the chancelleries for official documents. In addition to transcribing many copies of the Koran (e.g. Istanbul, U. Lib., A. 6549), single pieces and albums of exercises, he was one of the first to pen large calligraphic descriptions of the Prophet Muhammad (Arab. hilya; e.g. 1691; Dublin, Chester Beatty Lib., MS. 2). He was paralysed three years before his death and was buried in the Koca Mustafa Pasha cementery.

D. James: Islamic Masterpieces of the Chester Beatty Library (London, 1981), no. 40
H. Lowry: ‘Calligraphy: Hüsn-i hat’, Tulips, Arabesques & Turbans: Decorative Arts from the Ottoman Empire, ed. Y. Petsopoulos (London, 1982), p. 173; no. 174
The Anatolian Civilisations III: Seljuk/Ottoman (exh. cat., 18th Council of Europe exh.; Istanbul, 1983), no. E.309

Photography/ Text © HAT SAN’ATI Tarihçe, Malzeme ve Örnekler, Istanbul. Text:

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Written by calligrapher

May 7, 2007 at 5:29 pm

One Response

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  1. Masha Allah, very informative site, especially for practising calligraphers. I am searching for a larger version (hi-res) of Kazasker Mustafa Izzet’s calligraphic specimen, “Kamaalul Joodi Al I’tizaar Ma’ahu” which is actually a Hadis. I am trying to source the Hadis with the help of Ulama. I have a very small copy of it. The close-up will help other calligraphers also to study the detail. If you have the specimen in your archives and can feature it on this site it will be splendid.

    Yusuf ibn Aiyyoub

    July 17, 2009 at 9:36 pm

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