Ottoman children’s Memento Mori

In 1595, Mehmet III in taking the throne of his father Murad III, ordered the execution of his 19 brothers. While this was done to stop any civil turmoil over the inheritance of the throne, it caused a backlash and was never repeated.

These kaftans were placed over the grave of the boys.
vandachildkaftanzigzag This kaftan is 83 cm high, with a hem line of 78.2 cm. It is made of brocaded silk with zigzags filled with cintāmaṇi. It is in the Victoria and Albert Museum.

CIS:752A-1884 This kaftan is is brocaded silk and gold wrapped thread in roundel patterns. The kaftan is currently on display in the Victoria and Albert Museum.

vandachildkaftancresent This kaftan has a height of 79.8 cm and a hem line of 79.8 cm. It is currently in the Victoria and Albert Museum.

vandachildkaftantulip This kaftan has a height of 76.7 cm and a hem line length of 50.2 cm. It is made of silk lampas, with metal wrapped silk thread woven throughout. It is currently in the Victoria and Albert Museum.

vandachildkaftantiger This kaftan is a silk lampas weave in a tiger stripe pattern. It has a length of 71 cm and a hem line length of 78.5 cm. It is currently in the Victoria and Albert Museum.

Recommended reading
The Renaissance and the Ottoman World edited by Anna Contadini, Claire Norton. Via Google Books.

Courtly Encounters: Translating Courtliness and Violence in Early Modern Eurasia edited by
Sanjay Subrahmanyam. Via JStor.

Islamic textiles & dress reading list as suggested by the Victoria and Albert Museum.

The Rålamb Costume Book via the National Library of Sweden.

An exhibit in South Australia

The Art Gallery of South Australia recently held an exhibit called Paradise on Earth: Flowers in the Art of Islam.

I would like to thank Mistress ffride wlffsdotter for the use of her photos and her support of the Guild!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA This dish is an Ottoman 16th century iznik.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA The decoration is of a hunting dog and rabbit in an earthenware glaze.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA This dish is also 16th century Ottoman iznik.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA The decorations are of tulips and poppies.

Ebru paper marbling

Paper marbling (known as ebru) was done in Turkey and Persia in the 16th century. It was thought to have spread from the east through Anatolia from the 13th century but the earliest examples found are late 16th century. This is dated to 1540, as it was dated and signed by the artist himself. It is currently in the Topkapi Saray Museum. There is also one in the same time period in the Brooklyn Museum, though this one is Persian- The marbling is done by swirling oil pigments mixed with ox-gall in a viscose fluid (water with gum tragacanth). The paper is carefully laid on top, which means that every paper with marbling is a unique design. This YouTube clip shows how it is done- And this one- The main problem with dating the ebru paper is that the paper is used to re-bind manuscripts. So while the manuscripts could be 13th century, the binding itself (or the backing of individual pages) could be 17th or even 18th century. This picture is a Persian woman adjusting her aigrette and is dated to 1590. The ebru is a later date. The painting is in the Freer & Sackler Gallery.
Recommended reading
The Art of Marbling on The Ottomans.Org.
Ebru: The Art of Paper Marbling on
Ebru (Paper Marbling) by B. Akbal-Delibas.
The Digital Art of Marbled Paper by B. Tevfik Akgun. JStor article.
Ebru: The Cloud Art by Robert Arndt. Via Saudi Aramco World Magazine.

A few Ottoman hangings

This embroidered hanging is 202 cm by 136.5 cm and made of linen embroidered with silk. It was thought to have been made between 1570-1699 C.E. The stitches used are atma, closed herringbone, double running, chain with Romanian couching used later. The hanging is made of three separate pieces sewn together after the embroidery on each piece was completed. The main design is tulips, surrounded in a cell formation with an oval medallion and blue leaves on a diagonal. The textile is in the Victoria and Albert Museum.
This is a piece of a hanging, also thought to have been made between 1540-1699 C.E. This textile is 42 cm by 55 cm, also made of linen with silk embroidery. The stitches used are surface darning on the diagonal. The design is tulips surrounded by blue hyacinths, within a hexagonal cell design of small flowers and green stems with leaves. This textile is in the Victoria and Albert Museum.
This textile is thought to be part of a hanging constructed like the first textile. The size is 119 cm by39 cm, made out of linen with silk. The stitched used are chain stitch and regular surface darning over five threads. The design is a heart medallion with a tulip and pomegranates in reserve (or voided). The medallions are surrounded by white flowers and blue leaves on the diagonal. The border (as seen around the top and the very left) is a leaf motif in blue, red, white and green. The piece of hanging is in the Victoria and Albert Museum.

These embroideries are mentioned in the book Ottoman Embroidery by Marianne Ellis and Jennifer Mary Wearden. While the book doesn’t have many close up pictures of the embroideries, there is a section in the back that gives many detailed descriptions of the different stitches and how to do them.

For those interested in Ottoman embroidery and happen to be in Washington, the Textile Museum will be having an exhibition in September about Ottoman embroidery. The Sultan’s Garden: The Blossoming of Ottoman Art will run from September 21st, 2012 through to March 10th, 2013.

Recommended reading
A Book of Old Embroidery by Albert Frank Kendrick and Charles Geoffrey Holme. This is available to download from the Internet Archive.

Encyclopedia of Needlework by Therese de Dillmont. Through Project Gutenberg.

Kohl containers

This is a Fatimid rock crystal Kohl container, made between 939–1010 C.E. The jar would have had a glass rod in it, to apply the Kohl, which was made out of burnt frankincense, almond shells or Safflower plants. This is a Mamluk ivory inlaid with niello Kohl container, made between the 14th–15th century. The applicator was attached by chain. This is an Ottoman cast silver Kohl bottle. It is dated to 1594 C.E. and was hammered and incised. The applicator stick was attached to the bottle with a chain, through the “tail” of the bird.

Taken from Museum With No Frontiers website.

An Ottoman dagger handle

This is an Ottoman dagger hilt, made out of walrus ivory. The dagger is carved with arabesque knots and foliage. The size is 10.6 x 4.6 x 2.2 cm. There is no blade on the handle and no other details about the hilt. The item is currently in the Walters Art Museum.
Recommended Reading
Metal Working & Jewelry on the Turkish Cultural Foundation.
Two Aspects of Islamic Arms and Armor by D. G. Alexander. JStor article.
An Exhibition of High Ottoman Art by Oleg Grabar. JStor article.
Paintings in Silver and Gold: The Decoration of Persian Metalwork and Its Relationship to Manuscript Illustration by Linda Komaroff.
Decorative Motifs Used on the Ottoman Flag Finials by Jaroslav Martykán. Via Google Docs.
Arms & Armors: From the Permanent Collection by Helmut Nickel. JStor article.
Oriental Metalwork in the Gambier-Parry Collection by B. W. Robinson. JStor article.

Some dances from Uzbek, Turkey & Armenia

This is a dancer named Marguerite Kusuhara doing a sufi dance.

This is Ballet Afsaneh and Miriam Peretz (see previous post Persian Dancing) dancing a Tajik/Uzbeki dance.

This is also Miriam Peretz, dancing a Tajik/Uzbeki dance solo.

This is a Russian video of a dance known as Kochari. It is a Turkish/Armenian folk dance. There are some differences of opinion on the history of the dance. If you have any information, please let me know.
Recommended reading
Ottoman period on the Pandect: the World of Greek Dance website.
On the Subject of Ethnic and Cultural Parallels:
the Art of Dancing in Khorezm and Turkey
written by Inna Gorlina on the San’at Magazine website.
Turkish Folklore on the Meander Travel website.
Turkish Hamman and the West: Myth and Reality by Anna Vanzan Via Google Docs.

A Mamluk finial

This is a Mamluk finial, a decoration that would adorn a standard taken into battle. It would identify different units of warriors. This finial is made from steel, with a height of 51.3 cm and a width of 11.7 cm. It has the name of Sayf al-Din Tarabay on it and a quote from the Qur’an. Sayf al-Din Tarabay was a Syrian emir, who built a well known funerary complex in Cairo. Currently the item is in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, but there is not much more information there. This Mamluk finial was thought to have been a war prize from the battle of 1517 between the last of the Mamluk Sultanate and the Ottomans. The Ottomans also used finial flags, as written in the article Decorative Motifs Used on the Ottoman Flag Finials by Jaroslav Martykán. Via Google Docs.


The al-Baghdadi cookbook was written in the 13th century, by Muḥammad bin al-Ḥasan bin Muḥammad bin al-Karīm al-Baghdadi.

As filo pastry was invented in the 17th century, very thin bread or even crepes were used in layers with sugar (or honey) with nuts and spices. It was replaced with filo in the 17th century where baklava grew to such popularity that there was even the “Baklava Parade” a gift from the Topkapi Palace to their Janissary guards.

I used David Friedman and Elizabeth Cook’s work on the Internet, known as Cariadoc’s Miscellany as a base to work from. The recipe can be found here. However, there are some differences which is easy to explain.

Take fine white flour, and with every ratl mix three uqiya of sesame-oil, kneading into a firm paste. Leave to rise; then make into long loaves. Put into the middle of each loaf a suitable quantity of ground almonds and scented sugar mixed with rose water, using half as much almonds as sugar. Press together as usual, bake in the oven, remove.

Cariadoc’s recipe is 2 c white +1 c whole wheat flour, 1/2 c sesame oil (from untoasted sesame!!!), 6 oz almonds (1 c before chopping), 12 oz (1& 1/2 c) sugar, 1 T rose water, 3/4 to 7/8 c cold water or 1/2 c water, 1/2 c sour-dough starter and additional flour for rolling out dough. I used 2 cups sour-dough bread mix, 1 cup plain white flour, 1/2 cup sesame oil, a full cup of warm water, 1& 1/2 teaspoons dried yeast and 1 tablespoon raw sugar. I then cheated by putting all this in my bread maker and turning on the pizza dough setting. I made two batches of this dough. I then covered them & placed them in the fridge overnight. This is known as retarding the bread dough.

I also made two different types of filling. One was almond, the other pistachio. The almond mix had 1 cup almond flour with some course almonds mixed in, 1 tablespoon rose water, 1 cup raw caster sugar and 1/2 teaspoon cardamom. The pistachio mix was one cup pistachios coarsely pulverised, 1 cup raw caster sugar, 1 tablespoon orange blossom water and 1/2 teaspoon cardamom. I used raw sugar as that is the sugar I usually bake with. While there was no mention of spices in the original recipe, I chose to put in cardamom for two reasons. No-one knows what “scented sugar” was, as rose water was mentioned separately in the recipe and cardamom was thought to aid digestion.


The bowl on the left is the almond mix. The one in the middle is the pistachio mix and the one on the right is dough waiting to be kneaded.

I thought that I would try to make the almond mix by layering it like baklava, or like the popular Armenian bread dish.

Here is one of the doughs spilt into four to be rolled out and made into layers.

Baking in the oven.

The almond cooked at 180 degrees for about 30 minutes. I did find that it was still a little raw in the middle so these pieces were cooked again.

The cooked almond pieces. I found the sugar caramelised nicely.

I did the pistachio mix according to the recipe, into little loaves.

Cooling down.

I took both to the Krae Glas Ottoman Twilight Tourney where both types were finished off. I found the pistachio rolls were very bread-y when I cut them up. I got the impression that many preferred the almond, as a more subtle flavour but the pistachio was also liked. Everyone who tried it is welcome to leave a comment!

Recommended reading on Baklava
Baklava on the Turkish Cultural Foundation.
Baklava on the New World Encyclopaedia.
Repast: Quarterly Publication of the Culinary Historians of Ann Arbor: Vol XXIV, #4, Fall 2008. Via Google Docs.
Baklava- Stefan’s Florilegium.

Ottoman music

This song was composed by Şehzade Korkut, son of Sultân Bayezid-î Velî in the 16th century. This is a 17th century song called “Makam Uzzal Sakil Turna” by Dimitri Candemir. An album of his musical works was done by Jordi Savall and is available through Alia Vox. This song is called Nikriz Peşrev and was written in the 17th century. The band that did the song is called Saraband, and their work is available to see on Saraband’s website. Finally, some Janissary marching music, done by the band alias Mehter. Some Janissary music can be sampled here and here.