Mufradat Page


This fragment contains what would have been the first page of an album of calligraphic mufradat (alphabetical) exercises. Such albums include al-huruf al-mufradah or, in the Ottoman tradition, huruf-i muqatta'a (the single letters) of the Arabic alphabet in sequence, followed by letters in their composite form (in the Turkish tradition, murekkebe, literally "pairs"). Exercise books appeared by at least the 17th century in Ottoman Turkey and continued well into the 20th century. They were used as books of calligraphy exemplars to introduce students to the Arabic alphabet and the practice of beautiful handwriting. They also bear witness to the chain of transmission of calligraphic knowledge throughout the centuries. This folio's first three lines include the single letters arranged in alphabetical order. In the middle of the third line appears a light blue and gold stippled rosette intended to separate the free-standing letters at the top from the sequence of composite letters at the bottom. The composite letters combine the second letter of the alphabet ba (b) with subsequent letters of the alphabet. Between each line of text appear curved wavy lines executed in black ink intended to fill the otherwise unadorned, empty spaces in the composition. The letters are written in a black Nasta'liq script on a beige paper and surrounded by cloud bands executed in light blue and white ink. Between the bands and the rectangular frame appear a number of illuminated flower motifs placed on a gold background stippled with three-dot incisions. The work's frames combine single colors with an internal white-and-gray marbled paper. The paper and frames are placed onto a thicker light-green piece of paper decorated with gold flecks.

Last updated: April 27, 2016