İsmail Hakkı Altunbezer was born (1873-1946) in the Kuruçeşme quarter of Istanbul to a family of calligraphers. His father Mehmed İlmi Efendi (1839-1924), a student of Kazasker Mustafa İzzet Efendi (1801-1876), was İsmail Hakkı’s first teacher of calligraphy.
After his graduation with an education in painting from the Sanayi-i Nefise Mektebi (Academy of Fine Arts), he became a student of Sami Efendi (1838-1912) at the Office of the Imperial Chancery of State, and in addition to learning the divani, jeli divani and jeli thuluth styles of calligraphy from his master, after learning to inscribe the tuğra (imperial monogram) he was raised to the status of birinci tuğrakeş (primary scribe of the monogram) at the Sublime Port. In addition to signing the tuğra on formal documents such as decrees, edicts and proclamations issued by the Chancery of State, tuğrakeş İsmail Hakkı Altunbezer also produced the divani and jel divani calligraphy of these manuscripts.
Altunbezer gave lessons in the inscription of the tuğra and in jeli thuluth calligraphy at the school of calligraphy (Medresetü’l-hattatin) opened in 1915, and after the Alphabet Reform was instituted in 1928, he began to give lessons in the gilding of manuscripts.
In this new addition to the Sakıp Sabancı Museum Collection, the work of İsmail Hakkı Altunbezer displays the end of a paragraph and the attribution to the calligrapher in orpiment on a dark ground that has been prepared as a template.
These templates for calligraphy are produced with techniques called iğneleme and silkeleme, which consist of perforation and dusting. The calligrapher writes his inscription on dark-colored paper with orpiment ink, and places a second paper under it; he then proceeds to make perforations around the contours of the script at close intervals with a tool consisting of a long needle mounted on a handle. In this manner the script is copied onto the lower paper; the paper underneath is called the lower template.
The lower template is then arranged on the paper onto which the inscription is to be transferred, and a cloth covered with charcoal dust is rubbed over the pinholes, allowing the pattern of the script to be transferred to the surface underneath. This process is called yazı silkelemek, ‘shaking’ the script. In the Calligraphy Pattern with Hakkı’s signature, the perforations from the needle-pricking process are visible.
This work was purchased and joined the Sakıp Sabancı Museum Calligraphy Collection in April, 2009. The Museum Collection also includes two panels by the calligrapher (130-0246-IHA ve 130-0406-IHA).
Bibliography: Muhittin Serin, Hat Sanatı ve Meşhur Hattatlar, İstanbul, 2003; 90-91, 178-182.