Artworks Exhibited in Topkapi Palace

Ottoman and European Silver Works

The silver works produced between sixteenth and nineteenth centuries ,met with the visitors in  Topkapi Palace Museum ,was the significant part of  the Ottoman Treasury since the richness was measured by  gold and silver owned. There are approximately two thousand silver works in the collection exhibited in Topkapi Palace. These silver works  are consist of the gifts of the European Ambassadors given on the occasion of visit to the Sultan and silver works given as gift during the Culus anniversaries and other silver works included into the treasury for various reasons.

Topkapi Palace Museum collection on display are works about two thousand pieces of silver. This is the beginning of the works of silver, because of their visits to the sultan, and for any reason, European diplomats Culus anniversaries, especially the relationship with the silverware as a gift, the treasure is silver involved for various reasons.


European Porcelains and Glass Wares

The European porcellains and glass ware  collection exhibited in Topkapi Palace Museum should be definetily visited  in order to have an idea on  articles of  glassware of  that  era. The whole collection is composed  of  European glass ware or the pieces manufactured in Europe. The glass works produced with the Bohemian glass processing technique discovered in the early seventeenth century ,constitute  the  major part of the European porcellanis and glass ware collection of Topkapi Palace. A visitor of  Topkapi Museum will be considered  unlucky  if  he/she  doesn’t see the pitcher set  created by Ludwig Moser ,one of the workers of Bohemian glass factory and the artist whose name referred to this techique, for Sultan Abdulhamit II.  In this collection, the rare examples of  French, British and Russian glass art  met with the visitors.


Glass Ware and Porcelains of Istanbul

Approximately two thousand  pieces unique works are exhibited in the Glassware and porcelain collection of Istanbul. The most important pieces of  Istanbul collection are exhibited in Helvahane and Serbethane sections of  Palace Cuisine. The adventure of glass production in the Ottoman Empire starts with   Sultan Selim III’s decision   of  sending  Mevlevi scholar Mehmet Dede to Venice of  Italy in order to learn the basics  art of glass. Mevlevi Mehmet Dede returns to  Istanbul  with he secrets of this art and after a short while he succeeds in manufacturing  glassware specific to Ottoman. In the glass workshops situated in Beykoz,district of Istanbul, the production  of   crystal glass ,Cesmi-i bulbul and opaline glass types were realized.

Since the nineteenth century, when  the glassware were  mentioned   ,it is  called to mind the name of  “Cesm-i Bulbul” glass ( means  as  the eye of nightingale ) manufatured in the workshops  of Beykoz-Istanbul. In this glass art ,it is essential that the  colored and whirling glass rods rise and they unit each other.

In the porcelain part of the collection, there  are only Ottoman porcelains  to be used in the Topkapi palace due to their high cost of production. The Ottoman porcelains are divided into two groups in terms of  the reigning Sultans during  the production period . The porcelains manufactured  between the middle and second quarter of the nineteenth century  in the reign of  Sultan Abdulmecit referred as Eser-i Istanbul and manufactured  in the Beykoz porcelain workshops. And the porcelains manufactured  in the last quarter of the same century are referred as Yildiz porcelains. Yildiz porcelains were manufactured  in the reign of  Sultan Abdulhamit in the porcelain workshops situated in the garden of Yildiz Palace.  The most important feature of the porcelain works bearing the stamp of Eser-i Istanbul is the floral design and the arabic stamps painted  with the same dye. These porcelains could only be produced along the thirty years due to the high production cost.

The foundation  purpose  of Yildiz Tile Factory  in  the period  of  Sultan Abdulhamid was to cover the  need of  porcelain  of  Palace. In the course of time ,this factory  was developed  and started to produce the gifts  to be sent  to the foreign statesmen. Today, it is possible to see the art works referred as Yildiz Porcelain in various museums of Europe.

Has Room – Holy Relics Department

Has room was built  by the order of  Sultan Mehmet ,conqueror of Istanbul, in the  so-called Enderun courtyard for his own use and  this  room was  used by the subsequent  Sultans  in the  second quarter of sixteenth century. The  Has oda is a room where the subordinates present their submissions and prayers to the Sultan before ascending to throne during Culus ceremony . At the present time, Holy relics department in Has Oda is consist of  Islamic work of arts sent between sixteenth century in which Sultan Selim reached the rank of caliphate and until the end of nineteenth century.   The authority of  Caliphate  owned by  Abbasids  was trasfered to the Ottoman Sultans after the conquer of  Egypt by Sultan Selim I. in 1517. As a natural consequence of this situation, the cardigan of Prophet Muhammad  in the treasure of Mutawakkil the third,the last caliph of Abbasids was brought to Topkapi Palace in Istanbul under the auspices of Sultan Selim Khan.  After this incident,  the other sacred relics ,one after another ,have been sent to the Topkapi Palace.  The holy relics traffic towards Ottoman Palace gained momentum ,because the attacks of Vehhabbi tribes  in Egypt  was intensified to the sacred places of Islam  . In the period of the First World War ,the other holy relics in Medina was transferred to Holy Relics department in the Palace.

In the Holy Relic department of  Topkapi Palace there are several items with high spritual value ,such as …footprint of Prophet Muhammad, the container in which the broken tooth of Prophet Muhammad  is kept , during  the Uhud  Battle, Prophet Muhammad’s beard (sakal-i serif) , Prophet Moses’s wand, Prophet Joseph’s robe and the sword of Prophet David.



In the period of  Fatih Sultan Mehmet the conquerer of Istanbul , Hagia Eirene Church (Hagia Irene Church) , in the courtyard of Topkapi Palace was  used as a warehouse for weapons and ammunition.  Hagia Eirene Church used for this purpose until the end of the nineteenth century, was converted into museum  referred as  “Museum of ancient weapons and Antiquites “ ( Mecmai Eslihai Atika and Mecmai Asari Atika in Ottoman language)  by the ettempts of  Fethi Mehmet Pasha ,marshal of armory department. This museum is the first known museum in IstanbulTopkapi Palace Museum with the collection of weapons containing approximately fifty-two thousand pieces and  with the 1300 years  of  historical  background, has the possession  of  the most significant weapon collection in the world. The whole of the collection consist of  the rare  pieces inspired by the various war cultures on three continents where the  Ottoman Empire was ruling .The most important section in this department is the saltanate weapons section where the weapons  manufactured by  the order of Sultan is being  exhibited and this should be certainly visited. The weapons ,armor and other artifacts and components obtained as spoils of war bear witness to the history of Ottoman Empire.


The Treasure House

In the tradition of the Ottoman Sultans the treasure was considered as  ancestry heirloom and it was constanly increasing asset until the period of pause. The Sultans were used to watch this treasure , locked  chests and behind the closed doors  and protected by strict security measures, with certain ceremonies. This tradition was broken in the second quarter of  the ninetenth century. The certain part of the treasure  was began to be  exhibited in public places during the periods of  Sultan Abdulmecit, Sultan Abdulaziz and  Sultan Abdulhamit the second.  Today, the Imperial Treasury  section is the visitors accepted place  in Topkapi Palace Museum  .  The most significant items in the treasury are the gifts given on the occasion of  the important days such as birthdays, circumcison and  enthronement ceremonies of Sultans and Princes. In addition, the artworks made by local  and foreign artists in order to receive order , take considerable place in tresuary.  Some artworks sent by the Sultan of the relevant period to the foreign statesmen but  could not be reached  for various reasons  ,take place in this section. The emerald-embroidered dagger sent by Sultan Mahmut I. to Mahmud Shah can be mentioned beetween these works.


Copper and  Tombac  Works

The copper works used for dessert cooking for Palace’s servants in the “Helvahane” section are worthwhile to see in terms of  labour used in production. The copper pots were used in the Palace’s kitchen in order to prepare the other food stuff to be consumed.The copper and tombac works used to cook daily for five thousand people ,are rare types in the world in terms of quality.

Chinese and Japanese Porcelains

The  porcelain collection including more than then thousand Chinese origin porcelain can be considered the biggest collection  in the world  except  the China . Today, this collection is worthwhile to see because the property of their embroderies can not be found  even in china and they have been waiting for their visitors.

Portraits of the Sultans

The thirty-six paintings and engravings of the  Ottoman Sultans who reigned since from the establishment year of 1299  until the twentieth century  makes up an unique collection. The portraits of the Sultans prior to the Conquerer of Istanbul Fatih Sultan Mehmet, was not made when they were alive,thus their portraits were made  entirely on the basis of the notes kept in the history. Almost all of the Sultans including Fatih sultan Mehmet let the court artists of Ahl-i Hiref Nakkashanesi to  make  their  portraits and engravings. In this collection the works of the western painters take place besides the court artists. Almost all of these artworks has been ordered by the Sultans of the relevant era.

Sultan’s Garments

Sultan’s Garments section is a place where the fabric meets with art  and  consist of  the garments made between fifteenth and twentieth century. Almost all of the patterns were designed and  knitted by the miniaturists of  Ahl-i Hiref.  The garments were mainly withgold and silver embroidery until  the period of  Sultan Ahmet III. ,after that period  lighter and cheaper fabrics were preferred.   The headgears of the public referred as  crown,guilted turban etc, was paid attention by the sultans. The headgears was complementary of  the garments and was varied  depending on sofa meeting,ceremonies and reception of foreign ambassadors. The most and frequently preferred headgears were called as Selimi, Horasani, Katibi and mucevveze  .  In the period of Sultan Mahmut the second,a new perspective occurred and the culture of fez  was  tried to be established. The wearing of fez announced obligatory in the regular army of that period called as “Asakiri Mansuri Muhammediye”. Thus, the usage of fez became widespread and the other headgeras were invalidated.

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