Mustafa Âli’s Epic Deeds of Artists (Islamic History and Civilization)

  • Book Title:
 Mustafa Ali Epic Deeds Of Artists
  • Book Author:
Esra Akin
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In Orhan Pamuk’s fascinating novel My Name is Red,whichtakesplacein Istanbul of  ,chief imperial painter Master #Uthman tells the young Qara a story that the unfortunate and resentful painters of Sulayman the Magnificent had recounted to the Sultan, who they believed favored calligraphers over painters, in order to illustrate the precedence of the art of painting over calligraphy. “As anyone who pays close attention will note, however,” the master adds, “the real moral of the story is about blindness and memory.”

In the story told by the painters, after he captured Herat, #Abd al-Latif, son of Timur’s grandson Ulugh Beg, mobilized a group of artists to assemble and arrange an album of paintings in honor of his father, as was common practice among rulers of the time. Alas, rushed by the new ruler, before they could assemble a new album, the artists mixed up the paintings and the captions that had been selected from unbound collec-tions. Witnessing the chaos, #Abd al-Latif gathered all the miniaturists in Herat and ordered them to identify and sort out the illustrations. After heated discussions, they were not able to reach a consensus on the iden-tities of most of the works, so the artists decided to seek the help of the long-forgotten chief royal painter.

When they found the old master, however, people were alarmed to see that he was now blind. Regardless, the old man asked that a seven-year-old boy be brought forward to look at the illustrations and describe what he saw. As the boy did what he was told, the old man identified all of the paintings one by one. When the task was complete and the new album was bound successfully, #Abd al-Latif asked the old mas-ter by what secret he, a blind man, could identify those paintings that other master illustrators could not distinguish even when they could see them. “God created this worldly realm so that, above all, it might be contemplated,” the old man replied. “Afterwards he provided us with words so we might share and discuss with one another what we’ve seen. But we created stories with these words and assumed that illustrations were painted so as to depict these stories. In truth, painting is the act…..

About the book

The earliest known Ottoman literary source about the lives and works of calligraphers, painters, limners, and book-binders of the Ottoman and Persianate worlds, Mustafa ?‚lis (1541-1600) Epic Deeds of Artists (1587), was hitherto considered to be primarily a biographic dictionary.

Based on a comprehensive reading of the descriptive and analytic tools of ?‚lis biographical writings as well as his passionately penned personal reflections on sixteenth-century attitudes toward art and artists, this critical edition by Esra Akn-Kvan?§

 brings to the fore the significance of Epic Deeds not only as a guide to the connoisseurs and aficionados of the time, but also as a fascinating commentary by a prominent intellectual on the spiritual meaning and material value of art.

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