Inventory no.: 1452

Ottoman Gold Inlaid Scissors


Gold Overlaid Calligrapher’s Scissors

Ottoman Turkey

19th century

length: 20cm, weight: 85g

This pair of scissors from nineteenth century Turkey, probably Istanbul, is of cast steel. The handles are of elegant oval-shaped form with curved twines that lead to short, wide blades.

The blades – inside and out – are overlaid with gold in scrolling foliage patterns. The handles also have gold decoration on the lower section.

Korans and indeed any other books or documents had to be written by hand prior to the advent of Arabic typeset. Scissors such as these were part of the calligrapher’s tools of trade. They were used to cut paper sheets to the correct size prior to binding. Such scissors were used to cut only the finest paper. Thicker paper was cut using shears.

This pair is in immaculate condition.

For a related example, see Maddison & Savage-Smith (1997, p, 393.)


UK art market.


Maddison, F. & E. Savage-Smith, The Nasser D. Khalili Collection of Islamic Art: Science, Tools & Magic, Part One: Body and Spirit, Mapping the Universe, The Nour Foundation, 1997

McWilliams M. & D. Roxburgh,

Traces of the Calligrapher: Islamic Calligraphy in Practice c. 1600-1900, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, 2007.

Melikian-Chirvani, A.S.,

Le Chant du Monde: L’Art de l’Iran Safavide 1501-1736, Somogy Editions D’Art, 2007.

Inventory no.: 1452