Iskender Mysore commemorates the iconic design of Iskender Usta (also known as the ‘Istanbuli’ model in collector’s circles).
Iskender Usta’s work dates back to the late 70s, and today his tasbihs fetch the highest prices in the world—vintage Faturan and Bakelite models command up to $30,000 per strand.
A tasbih is an object of love. So, no surprise, the great ustas chisel their masterpieces from some of the finest materials in the world. Coral, precious metals, exotic and aromatic woods, impossible-to-carve stones, and other luxury materials that add esteem and reverence to this age-old instrument of devotion.
I know masters who refuse to carve tasbihs where the design doesn't reflect meaning. And any dhakir knows that each separator, each curve and notch is rich in mystical symbolism. Grace, glory, and eternal beauty are significant to those who appreciate the purpose of a classic Turkish tasbih.
An elegant tasbih shouldn't just enable you to pursue those exalted attributes, but is crafted in a way that manifests them as well. Very few come as close to such manifestation as this santal beauty, made from sinking-grade vintage red Mysore heartwood from the 1970s and 80s.
To celebrate Iskender Usta’s place in tasbih history, we selected precious vintage carving material that dates back to his era. Not to mention, in a centuries-old tradition, carving sinking Mysore is unheard of in Turkey. So, Iskener Mysore is a first of its kind that honors the grandmaster in the world of Ottoman tasbih, and lets you be part of the story.
In your hand, you immediately notice from the relative heft that this is sinking sandalwood. It's not clunky, won’t weigh you down, and feels satisfying to roll through your fingers.
Then, the two disk-shaped dividers draw you in. Each one is delicately carved in perfect symmetry and positioned to create the distinctive whirling dervish effect that reflects the balance and beauty of the human form while separating the first ten beads from the remainder of the thirty-three.
Each 12 mm bead is a flawless hand-made oval showcasing the grain of the wood (polished just enough to enhance its natural luster), glide past your fingers, and gracefully turns the act of Remembrance into an act of beauty.
The imama, all-wood tassel, and finial complete the harmonious form of the dervish, by which tasbihs in the Turkish tradition are distinguished, recalling the pursuit of grace, glory, and eternal beauty that this piece embodies with elegant simplicity.
Hold the tasbih closer, and you're greeted by an uncanny sweet santal aura surrounding each bead. As you inhale, you could almost taste the rich, resplendent Mysore oil retained in this precious heartwood.
Amidst the mass-produced beads marketed as ‘Mysore’ (an eyesore to anyone who's seen, and held, a finely crafted tasbih), few are actually carved from Indian sandalwood. Not to mention vintage, sinking Mysore. And none are exquisitely made with such meticulous attention to detail by a master carver.
Once you get your hands, and your eyes, and your nose on this masterpiece, I’m certain you’ll discover that a work of beauty inspires you; moves you to never want to be without a tasbih in your hand, in a way dangling a generic string of beads around never could.
In addition to your Iskender Mysore tasbih, you'll also receive a 100ml Schott Duran bottle filled with the carving powder collected during the making of your tasbih. Sprinkle a few grains on your heater, feel the smooth finish of the beads roll around your thumb, and relish the otherworldy aroma of sinking Mysore for a sandalwood experience like no other.