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Yaqut al-Musta῾simi

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The Grove Encyclopedia of Islamic Art and Architecture What is This? Provides in-depth historical and cultural information on over a thousand years of Islamic art and architecture

Yaqut al-Musta῾simi

(d. Baghdad, 1298).

Ottoman calligrapher. Yaqut served as secretary to the last Abbasid caliph, al-Musta῾sim (r. 1242–58), and reportedly survived the sacking of Baghdad by the Mongols in 1258 by seeking refuge in a minaret. He perfected the “proportioned script” developed by Ibn muqla and refined by Ibn al-bawwab, in which letters were measured in terms of dots, circles and semicircles (see Calligraphy, §III, C). By replacing the straight-cut nib of the reed pen with an obliquely cut one, Yaqut created a more elegant hand. A master of the classical scripts known as the Six Pens (thuluth, naskh, muḥaqqaq, rayḥān, tawqī῾ and riqā῾), he earned the epithets “sultan,” “cynosure” and “qibla” of calligraphers. He is said to have copied two manuscripts of the Koran each month, but surviving examples are rare (e.g. 1294; Istanbul, Topkapı Pal. Lib., E.H. 74). Despite their small size, a typical folio (see fig.) has 16 lines of delicate naskh script, with verse markers in the margin, and appears quite spacious. He had six famous pupils; their names vary in the sources but the most famous are Ahmad al-suhrawardi, Yahya al-sufi and Haydar. Yaqut's work was prized by later collectors and calligraphers; Koran manuscripts transcribed by him (e.g. 1283–4, Istanbul, Topkapı Pal. Lib., E.H. 227; 1286–7, Tehran, Archaeol. Mus., MS. 4277) were often refurbished with splendid illumination under the Ottomans (r. 1281–1924) and Safavids (r. 1501–1732) or bound in albums.

Bibliography

  • Enc. Islam/2
  • Qāżī Aḥmad ibn Mīr Munshī: Gulistān-i hunar [Rose-garden of art] (c.1606); Eng. trans. by V. Minorsky as Calligraphers and Painters (Washington, DC, 1959), pp. 57–61
  • M. Lings: The Quranic Art of Calligraphy and Illumination (London, 1976), pls. 23, 26–8
  • Y. H. Safadi: Islamic Calligraphy (London, 1978)
  • The Age of Sultan Süleyman the Magnificent (exh. cat. by E. Atıl; Washington, DC, N.G.A.; Chicago, IL, A. Inst.; New York, Met.; 1987–8), no. 13
  • S. S. Blair: “Yaqut and his Followers,” Manuscripta Orientalia, ix/3 (2003), pp. 39–47; Persian trans. “Yāqūt wa pīravānish,” Ayene-ye Miras (Mirror of Heritage), iii/2 (Summer 2005), pp. 102–28
  • D. Roxburgh: The Persian Album 1400–1600: From Dispersal to Collection (New Haven, 2005)
  • S. S. Blair: Islamic Calligraphy (Edinburgh, 2006), pp. 242–50
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