Hilye-i Şerif and Prayer Beads Museum

Phone Number:
(0212) 512 12 32


Kepenekçi Yokuş Eminönü
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10:00am - 5:00pm

The Hilye-i Şerif ve Tesbih Müzesi (Hilye-i Şerif and Prayer Beads Museum) is located in a restored 16th-century religious school close to Süleymaniye Mosque. The word tespih comes from an Arabic word for "praise," and the these beads are used for reciting specific prayers after the usual prayers five times a day. The museum has a large variety of tespih, varying in material, size, shape, style, and age. Rare materials include mammoth tusk, ivory, amber, ram's horn, and coca wood. Many Turkish and Ottoman tespih feature ornate tassels or turban-like knots of silver thread.

The Hilye-i Şerif part of the museum’s name refers to works of highly decorated calligraphy describing the Prophet Muhammad. Because images of the Prophet were strongly discouraged, Ottoman artists wrote the Prophet’s physical characteristics in calligraphy and bordered this with lushly colored abstract designs. The idea is that by reading the text, quoted from the Hadith, the viewer can reconstruct a mental image of the Prophet. It is also believed that looking at these artworks can offer protection from illness or misfortune. Although this might seem a limited art, the many variations in color, design, and calligraphic styles on display at the museum prove otherwise.

Entry to the museum is free of charge. 

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