Album of Alphabetical Exercises (Murakkabat) by Mehmed Shevki

Location: Ottoman Turkey

Materials: ink and gold on coloured papers; folios edged in leather; in contemporary binding of brown morocco leather with gold-decorated turquoise-paper overlay, and gilt-leather slip case

Dimensions: 11 folios; 20.7 x 30.2cm

Accession Number: MSS 239

Other Notes:

In albums of murakkabat, the basic shapes of the letters of the Arabic alphabet are shown in their combined forms (as opposed to albums of mufradat, where they are shown in isolation). The letters are outlined with red dots, to show their correct proportions (mi‘yar al-huruf).

Mehmed Shevki, who signed this album, was a pupil of the calligrapher Mehmed Hulusi (Khulusi). He was a secretary in the Ministry of War, and taught calligraphy to Sultan ‘Abdülmejid I (r 1839–1861) and to the children of Sultan ‘Abdülhamid II (r 1876–1909). 


text copied in thulth and naskh scripts; signature is in riqa‘


N.F. Safwat, The Art of the Pen. Calligraphy of the 14th to 20th Centuries, The Nasser D. Khalili Collection of Islamic Art, volume V, London 1996, cat.12, pp.28–31.
S. Vernoit, Occidentalism. Islamic Art in the 19th Century, The Nasser D. Khalili Collection of Islamic Art, volume XXIII, London 1997, cat.48, p.93.
J.M. Rogers, The Arts of Islam. Masterpieces from the Khalili Collection, London 2010, cat.279, p.243.