One of Turkey's most important contemporary calligraphy collectors, Mehmet Çebi, recently opened an exhibition entitled "Contemporary Calligraphy and Tasbih," in Qatar Museums' Al Riwaq Gallery.
Held under the direction of the Presidency of the Turkish Republic and open until June 17, the exhibition includes a collection of remarkable calligraphic works dating from the 1960s to the present that focus on the beauty and sublimity of Islam through art. Also included in the collection are rare Hilye-i Şerifs, which are writings on the Prophet Muhammad's appearance and characteristics, and tasbihs (prayer beads) made of precious materials.
In the collection of "Zikir Taneleri" (Beads of Dhikr), visitors can view remarkable tasbihs from the Ottoman era made of precious coral, amber, tortoise shell, ivory and pebble, as well as contemporary tasbihs made of ivory, amber and rhino horn. The collection has also those materials, which are used for the production of tasbihs, being illuminated with silver and precious stones.
The principle of the "tawhid" ("unity") in Islamic communities forbids physically portraying the Prophet Muhammed. Instead, artists prefer to portray him through text by referenc
ing the remarks of people who once knew him. As a result, hilyes have become an expression and symbol of the respect and longing that the Muslim community has for their prophet.
About Mehmet Çebi
As one of Turkey's most important contemporary calligraphy collectors and the founder of the world's first Hilye-i Şerif and Tasbih museum in Süleymaniye, Istanbul, Mehmet Çebi has been collecting precious tasbihs, rare calligraphy and tezhib (illumination) works since 1986. Çebi has held numerous exhibitions in Turkey and abroad displaying his calligraphy and Hilye-i Şerif collections, creating unique exhibitions with his modern approach. He has nearly 3,000 calligraphy and Hilye-i Şerif works and close to 6,000 tasbihs - most of them dating back to the Ottoman Empire - in his collection. Having held exhibitions in many countries, including the Vatican and the United Arab Emirates, Çebi also holds international Hilye-i Şerif contests.