The Blue Mosque, Istanbul

About a month ago, I returned home from a 3-week research trip to Istanbul. Istanbul is a beautiful city and I love spending time there, so although I was working very hard, this visit was an absolute pleasure. I was in Turkey to continue my studies in Islamic manuscript illumination(or tezhip / tezhib as it is called in Turkish and Arabic). It had been quite a while since my last visit and I was a little anxious that I might be out of practice. However, once I started classes, everything seemed to come back to me and I think I made pretty good progress!

Sticking the calligraphy on to a handmade paper, using a mixture of starch and water.

I bought a piece of calligraphy out to Istanbul that I planned to illuminate. I was very lucky, as it was written by the very talented Dr. Nassar Mansour (and I am now going to shamelessly plug Nassar’s new calligraphy book on Amazon!) Some time ago, Nassar and I decided to do an exchange with our artwork – he received two of my hand-painted silk scarves in return for a piece of his calligraphy… I am convinced I got the better deal!
“What would you like me to write? Asked Nassar.
“Hmmm… Well, I think I’d like to gift the calligraphy to my parents to say “thank you” for all of the love and support they’ve shown me over the years”, I replied.
“I like this idea! Why not choose one of their favourite verses from the Qur’an?”

A little detail of the work-in-progress. I have applied three different colours of shell-gold paint, gouache and calligraphy ink to the illumination.

And so I chose verse 177 from the second chapter of the Qur’an. Here is the translation:
“In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful
It is not righteousness that ye turn your faces towards East or West;
But it is righteousness to believe in Allah and the Last Day, and the Angels, and the Book, and the Messengers;
To spend of your substance out of love for Him, for your kin, for orphans, for the needy, for the wayfarer, for those who ask, and for the ransom of slaves;
To be steadfast in prayer, and practise regular charity, to fulfil the contracts which ye have made;
And to be firm and patient in pain (or suffering) and adversity, and throughout all periods of panic. Such are the people of truth, the God-fearing.”

Illuminated painting, a work-in-progress. (c) Ayesha Gamiet 2011. This is a picture of the work to date. I will keep you updated on my progress!

I chose this verse, partly because I know that it is very beloved to both my parents, but also because for me, it encapsulates the way they live their lives, and the values that they have instilled within us, their children.
Wish me luck in completing it!
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7 Responses to Istanbul

  1. Your Dad! says:

    As-salaamu’alaykum Ayesha!

    Mum and I are enjoying our visit to Cape Town. It’s good to see how your work is progressing on that very special gift. This is something that will inshAllah become an heirloom to be handed down to our future generations… it’s a labour of love and a work of art that we deeply appreciate.

    Keep up the good work and the high standards, and we pray that Allah will illuminate your way through life as brilliantly as you are illuminating His words.

    Lots of love

    Mum and Dad

    Cape Town, 22nd November 2011

  2. Aminah Patel says:

    MashaAllah Ayesha,

    I don’t check your blog as much as I’d like to, but as I’m looking now, I am once again blown away!

    This is such a wonderful undertaking, and what a marvellous gift from your friend. Do send me pictures of the finished piece!

    Love you and miss you

    Aminah xxx

  3. Ayesha says:

    Salaam Aminah! It’s so nice to see you commenting here – I’m glad you’re enjoying the work! Now you know what I’m getting up to. I will keep you updated on my progress.

    Did you see the handmade books in the blog post below? I’m planning on making some for you and Ismail too, when I next get a chance.

    Miss you too!

    Much love,


  4. Sabirah says:

    Salams Ayesha,
    How it radiates love and beauty,

  5. Rabia says:

    Wow, this is so sweet. Is it done yet? How big is it I’m wondering? Difficult to tell here. Beautiful mashallah.

  6. Pingback: Works in progress… | Ayesha Gamiet - Art, Illustration and Design

  7. Line says:

    Hi, do you know where in Istanbul I can buy bookbinding equipment?

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