Students discover an ancient Turkish art form
By Lauren Highfill
Student Chad Wilson making a Turkish tughra design.
With a simple piece of chalk, Turkish congressman and artist Mehmet Sahin demonstrated a complex work of art unfamiliar to most Americans. Sahin drew several examples of “tughra” designs during a visit to Associate Professor of Art Sandra Bird’s Turkish Art History course last month.
“A tughra is the calligraphic seal of a sultan,” said Bird. “The artist constructs letters and symbols through the variation of thin and thick lines. It was really lovely to see.” History professor Hakki Gurkas’ class in Middle East history also joined the art history class for Sahin’s demonstration.
Turkish Congressman and calligrapher Mehmet Sahin presenting his work to a student.
Using patience and precision, Sahin
constructed the basic letters of the Arabic and English alphabet in calligraphy and talked to the audience about their distinctions. After observing the mesmerizing demonstration of Sahin’s calligraphy, the students had the opportunity to try it for themselves. “Many of the students did extremely well,” said Bird. “Several were completely enthralled with the process.”
Studio art majors seemed to be particularly interested in the session. “They discovered new skills that they could use in their own art making,” said Bird. Carissa Bulau, an art student majoring in graphic design, enjoyed not only Sahin’s demonstrations of the tughra and calligraphy, but also his insight into Turkish life. “His visit really gave us a feel of their culture and history,” she said. “Calligraphy is an everyday aspect of the Turkish culture, and is important to their religion as well. It was nice to get that inside look at Turkish art.”
Mehmet Sahin’s visit was made possible in part by the Istanbul Center in Atlanta who are partnering with KSU for the 2008-2009 “Year of Turkey” program.