Rare And Important Imperial Ottoman Or Italian Brocaded Silk (Kemha)

Turkey or Italy - 17th Century - Dimensions: 225 x 58 cm

Brocaded silk with a pattern of palmettes, roses, carnations and other flowers. This decorative repertoire is very similar to, and in some cases has directly inspired, the designs of poly-chrome Iznik ceramics. It consists of a determining floral decoration which has in fact shaped the aesthetics of the so-called Classical Ottoman style. Primarily formed under the supervision of the great court illuminator Kara Memi, this style mainly consists of ogival patterns with saz leaves or floral sprays. This very high quality silk brocade can be paired with an almost identical Ottoman kemha from the Swedish Royal Collection in Stockholm (inv. no. 113), which has been published in İpek – The Crescent and the Rose - Imperial Ottoman Silks and Velvets (2001), p. 248. Geijer has noted that this silk used to cover the ‘violet bed’ in the Swedish royal household. The initials with which this kemha was stamped are those of Queen Hedvig Eleanora (r. 1654-1660). Exchange of ideas and inspiration left its mark on local taste which can be clearly observed in works of art such as the present imperial kemha. Similar silks, clearly drawing inspiration from Ottoman aesthetic, were favoured in Italy, the Ottoman elite on the other hand was fascinated with Renaissance material culture, please see; Nurhan Atasoy, 2001, figs. 42, 43 & 49 and Gürsu, N., The Art of Turkish Weaving: Designs through the Ages, Redhouse Press, Istanbul, 1988, cat.131.

Valuable textiles constituted an indispensable element of Ottoman ceremonial, in the forms of costumes, banners, wall-hangings, curtains and ground-coverings they lent visual magnificence to precessions and receptions, and as ‘robes of honour’ (hil’at) bestowed on court servants and foreign diplomats. They were unmistakable signifiers of the sultan’s power and generosity. Their symbolic importance was reflected in both the action and language of the court. High Ottoman officials kissed the hem of the Sultan’s garment and spoke of ‘wearing the robe of continuance of office’, while the sultan himself was said to don ‘the mantle of authority’. The ceremonial kaftans and other garments in the collection of the Topkapi Palace Museum, testify to the dazzling impression that textiles undoubtedly made at state functions. Velvets and silks brocaded with threads of precious metal (kemha) were largely worn by the royal family and imperial slave household. Precious silk costumes and textiles were used particularly during the accession of sultans, the ceremony of the girding of the sword (kılıç kuşanma), parades, receptions. These have always been treasured and collected by Turkish and foreign patrons as signs of power. Similar ceremonial textiles have been depicted in detail in Talikizade’s Eğri Fetihnamesi which documents the Ottoman victory against the Habsburgs in 1596. The Eğri Fetihnamesi, preserved in the Topkapi Palace Museum Library (TSM H.1609), includes a double page miniature depicting the arrival of Sultan Mehmed III (r.1595-1603) in Istanbul following the victorious campaign. (fol.68b-69a). In the miniature, pages and palatial officials attending the ceremony have been depicted holding juxtaposed brocaded silks before the rest of the attendants (Osmanlı Resim Sanatı (2006), p.181. Also see: İpek – The Crescent and the Rose – Imperial Ottoman Silks and Velvets (2001), p. 26-27.). The details of the decoration on the silks depicted in the miniature draw close resemblance with the present textile. Moreover, even the narrow band running around the edges can be observed on the textiles in the miniature. The piece in hand, is an extremely rare piece, both in terms of its artistic value and perfect condition.

Provenance: Private UK Collection

Rare And Important Imperial Ottoman Or Italian Brocaded Silk (Kemha)magnifing glass

Ottoman Interior Ka'ba Cloth

Turkey - 19th Century - Dimensions: 200 x 88 cm

The cover is green silk, embroidered with gold, zig-zags with inscriptions. “Allah” and “Muhammad” in larger thuluth script. The tawhid formula of faith is repetitively written in the zig-zag bands, “there is no God but Allah, Muhammad is his Messenger”, also in thuluth script. Comparable fragments are found in the Victoria and Albert Museum and the David Collection. A complete cover made from a similar Kaaba cloth can be seen on one of the sarcophagi in the tomb of Sultan Süleyman in Istanbul. See; Petsopoulos 1982, p.183, no. 160. Also see: Islam – Faith and Worship, Abu Dhabi Culture and Heritage, Abu Dhabi, 2009, p. 322-323. For 16th and 17th century fragments of interior Kaaba cloths with similar calligraphic zig-zag bands see: Islam – Faith and Worship, Abu Dhabi Culture and Heritage, Abu Dhabi, 2009, pp. 310-311 and pp. 316-317. 

Provenance: Private UK Collection

Ottoman Interior Ka'ba Clothmagnifing glass

An Ottoman Wall Hanging Or Divan Cover

Turkey - Seventeenth Century - Height: 171 cm - Length: 126 cm

This seventeenth century çatma velvet panel is identical to a well-known panel now at the Polish National Museum, Cracow (inv. no. XIX-4525). The exact same design can be found in a fragment at the Victoria and Albert Museum as well (inv.no. 535-1884). The piece in hand is superior to such fragments with its completeness which is proved by the striped rulings framing it. Such panels were originally used as divan covers in upper class households in Istanbul. Its central fan-shaped carnation palmette is one of the most popular motifs found in çatma velvets. In staggered rows and infinitely repeated it creates a highly decorative effect which was embraced both at home and abroad, especially Eastern Europe and Russia. Apart from kaftans and furnishing fabrics, Ottoman velvets were also used as ecclesiastical garments, a proof of their versatility. A çatma which is identical to the present one is in the Calouste Gulbenkian Museum in Lisbon (inv. no. 1425), please see; Lizbon Calouste Gulbenkian Müzesi’nden Başyapıtlarla Doğu’dan Batı’ya Kitap Sanatı ve Osmanlı Dünyasından Anılar, 2006, p. 27. For comparable çatmas see Atasoy et al 2001, fig. 348 & Gürsu 1988, cat. 167. For velvets featuring different variations of the carnation palmette as the dominant motif see Atasoy et al figs. 342-347; Ballian 2006, fig. 234; Born, Dziewulski & Messling 2016, cat. 136; De Jonghe, cats. V.2.16 & V.2.17; Gürsu 1988, cats. 103, 122, 129, 137, 138, 166 & 192; Phillips 2016, fig. 3.2

Provenance: Private UK Collection

An Ottoman Wall Hanging Or Divan Covermagnifing glass

A PAIR OF FINE OTTOMAN EMBROIDERED SILK CEREMONIAL COVERS

Turkey, 18th century, Height: 133 cm Width: 57.6 cm

The emboidered red silk covers in hand belong to a small group of Ottoman embroidered silk ceremonial covers which were produced in Istanbul, in the 18th century. Published examples of similar embroideries, including hairdresser’s futas, are preserved in the Topkapi Palace Museum and the Sadberk Hanim Museum in Istanbul (See: Bilgi, Hulya. Asirlar Sonra Bir Arada, Sadberk Hanim Muzesi’nin Yurtdisindan Turkiye’ye Kazandirdigi Eserler, Istanbul, 2005, pp. 182-195). Also see: Patricia L. Baker, Islamic Textiles, British Museum Press, London, 1995, p. 159.

Provenance: Private UK Collection 

A PAIR OF FINE OTTOMAN EMBROIDERED SILK CEREMONIAL COVERSmagnifing glass

Ottoman Embroidered Ka'ba Cover

Turkey - 19th Century - Height: 207.1 cm - Width: 87.3 cm

The cover is red silk, embroidered with gold, zig-zags with inscriptions. “Allah” and “Muhammad” in larger thuluth script. The tawhid formula of faith is repetitively written in the zig-zag bands, “there is no God but Allah, Muhammad is his Messenger”, also in thuluth script. Comparable fragments are found in the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Textile Museum and the David Collection. A complete cover made from a similar Kaaba cloth can be seen on one of the sarcophagi in the tomb of Sultan Süleyman in Istanbul. See; Petsopoulos 1982, p.183, no. 160. Also see: Islam – Faith and Worship, Abu Dhabi Culture and Heritage, Abu Dhabi, 2009, p. 322-323. For 16th and 17th century fragments of interior Kaaba cloths with similar calligraphic zig-zag bands see: Islam – Faith and Worship, Abu Dhabi Culture and Heritage, Abu Dhabi, 2009, pp. 310-311 and pp. 316-317.

Provenance: Private UK Collection

Ottoman Embroidered Ka'ba Covermagnifing glass

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RARE AND IMPORTANT INDIAN TALISMANIC SHIRT (JAMA) WITH QUR’ANIC VERSES AND THE JAWSHAN AL-KABEER

North India or the Deccan, 17th-18th Century, Heigth: 72 cm., Width: 99.5 cm.

Cotton shirt inscribed with Qur’anic suras and the Jawshan al-Kabeer prayer in red and blue thuluth, red ghubar script, written in large panels on a green ground to arms, shoulders and lower section to front, reverse with large, symmetrically arranged foliate decoration on green ground. Its original bold colours highlight its strong design centred on quotations from the Qur’an, prayers, offering the promise of protection to its owner. The Bismillah (the first verse of the Holy Qur’an: “In the name of God the Merciful, the Compassionate”) in the middle in large, white thuluth followed by the first verse of Surat al-Fath from the Qur’an: “Indeed, We have given you, [O Muhammad], a clear conquest”. In her thesis on talismanic shirts Rose Evelyn Muravchick discusses the use of Qur’anic verses and the significance of the Surat al-Fath in talismanic shirts. Please see: Rose Evelyn Muravchick’s God is the Best Guardian: Islamic Talismanic Shirts from the Gunpowder Empires, University of Pennsylvania, 2014, p. 105. A 16th century Ottoman talismanic shirt which also bears verses from Surat al-Fath, in the Topkapi Palace Museum, is published in Hülya Tezcan’s Topkapı Sarayı Müzesi Koleksiyonundan Tılsımlı Gömlekler, İstanbul, 2011, p. 160. On the lower part are two of God’s names in monumental thuluth: “Yā Hannān (The one who is merciful to his servants) and Yā Mannān (the one who is tremendous in giving)”. The white, large thuluth inscriptions on the left and right shoulders read Yā Qādī al-Hājāt (Bestower of Desires). On the back the Surat al-Yasin from the Qur’an is written in thuluth script. The Jawshan al-Kabeer prayer is written both in the front and the back of the shirt in miniscule ghubar (dust) script. The 17th century collar, embroidered in red, green and corroded brown with typical Mughal floral designs. The scrolls with tulips on the front and those intertwined on the back of the shirt display Indian aesthetic. Similar scrolls decorated with tulips are found on the margin decoration of an album page 

from Bijapur, circa 1590, published in Victoria and Albert Museum – Arts of India 1550-1900, London, 1990, p. 112. A comparable Indian talismanic shirt, in the same size, from the Metropolitan Museum (inv. no. 1998-199) has been dated to the end of the 15th, early 16th century. Please see: Stefano Carboni, Daniel Walker, and J. Kenneth Moore’s “Recent Acquisitions: A Selection, 1997–1998; Islam.” Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin vol. 56, no. 2 (1997–1998). p. 12, ill. (color). Also see: David Alexander and W. Pyhrr Stuart’s “In the Metropolitan Museum of Art.” in Islamic Arms and Armor, New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2015. p. 14, ill. fig. 15 (color). Another talismanic shirt from India, dated to 16th or early 17th century, is in the Khalili Collection (inv. no. TXT 0471), in London. An earlier Ottoman shirt, with similar tulip decoration is in the Turkish and Islamic Arts Museum (inv. no. 539), Istanbul. Please see: Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts, Akbank, Istanbul, 2002, p. 248-49.

Talismanic shirts are found throughout the Islamic world and the earliest surviving examples are from the 15th century. In the Surat al-Yusuf of the Qur’an, a shirt of the Prophet Yusuf (Joseph) is described as providing him protection. He hands it over to his father Yaqub (Jacob) so it can heal his blindness. Talismanic shirts are usually inscribed with verses from Qur’an, names of God and of prophets and with numbers. They may carry images or symbols. The inscribed names of God are believed to be capable of offering protection and guidance to the owner. Although talismanic shirts can be worn to protect against many evils most of them seem to be intended as a shield in battle. These were believed to be imbued with protective powers and may have been meant to be worn under armour in battle. An important feature of this shirt is its small size. Almost all known examples including the rich collection in the Topkapi Palace Museum (Hülya Tezcan, Topkapı Sarayı Müzesi Koleksiyonundan Tılsımlı Gömlekler, TİMAS, Istanbul, 2011), are full sized. This shirt must have been made for a high-born youth, possibly a prince. Given the vulnerability of such shirts to damage it is extraordinary to find an example in such remarkable state of preservation.

Provenance: Private UK Collection, since 1857.

Lieutenant Lachlan Forbes or Captain William Halliday
The talismanic shirt was brought to the UK by either Lieutenant Lachlan Forbes or Captain William Halliday.

Lieutenant Lachlan Forbes was serving in the Indian army at the time of the Indian Rebellion, in 1857. Colonel Malleson in his The History of the Indian Mutiny recorded that “a force commanded by Lachlan Forbes, fought against river piracy, against Rup Singh who had taken possession of a fort at Barhi, near the junction of the Chambal with the Jamnah”. Please see: Colonel Malleson’s The History of the Indian Mutiny of 1857-58: Vol 5, p. 215.

Captain William Halliday was also a military figure serving in the Indian army. He fought and died during the Siege of Cawnpore, part of the Indian Rebellion. Cawnpore was an important garrison town for the East India Company forces. Located on the Grand Trunk Road, it lay on the approaches to Sindh (Sind), Punjab and Awadh (Oudh). By June 1857, the Indian rebellion had spread to several areas near Cawnpore, namely Meerut, Agra, Mathura, and Lucknow. There is a collection of letters from William Halliday’s wife Emma Halliday in the India Office Library. For a brief account please see: http://www.britishempire.co.uk/forces/armycampaigns/indiancampaigns/ mutiny/cawnporehalliday.htm

RARE AND IMPORTANT INDIAN TALISMANIC SHIRT (JAMA) WITH QUR’ANIC VERSES AND THE JAWSHAN AL-KABEERmagnifing glass

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A Fine Ottoman Embroidered Silk Ceremonial Cover

Turkey - 18th century - Height: 134 cm - Width: 126.4 cm

The emboidered red silk cover in hand belongs to a small group of Ottoman silk ceremonial covers which were produced in Istanbul, in the 18th century, for the use of courtly figures or members of palatial circles. Published examples of similar embroideries, including hairdresser’s futas, are preserved in the Topkapi Palace Museum and the Sadberk Hanim Museum in Istanbul

(See: Bilgi, Hulya. Asirlar Sonra Bir Arada, Sadberk Hanim Muzesi’nin Yurtdisindan Turkiye’ye Kazandirdigi Eserler, Istanbul, 2005, pp. 182-195). Also see: Patricia L. Baker, Islamic Textiles, British Museum Press, London, 1995, p. 159.

Provenance: Private UK Collection

A Fine Ottoman Embroidered Silk Ceremonial Covermagnifing glass

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Extremely Rare And Highly Important Ottoman Velvet Panel

Turkey - 16th Century - 123 x 173 cm

This velvet panel is a rare example of Ottoman art of textile. The design is in the form of a closed composition surrounded by a border. Here the çintemani spots are not arranged in the usual offset pattern but in straight rows. Each spot is filled with a design of tulips, carnations, rosebuds and hyacinths. The central section of each spot is woven in klaptan. The plain design has a powerful impact.

The stylized floral designs now emblematic of the classical Ottoman style were developed during the reign of Süleyman I, also known as Süleyman the Magnificent (r. 1520–66), as an alternative to the "International Style" that prevailed in the area during the early period of rule from the mid-fifteenth to mid-sixteenth centuries. Textile designs feature iconography shared with other decorative media designed by the nakkaşhane (royal design atelier) and adapted to the constraints of the loom to create elegant repeat patterns. The most popular layouts ranged from floral motifs characterized by wavy vertical stems with blooming palmettes (52.20.21), carnations, or pomegranate fruit (52.20.19), to large-scale ogival layouts with delicate peony blossoms creating a lattice pattern (49.32.79).

Lattice layouts became popular during the reign of Süleyman I and may also reflect layouts and motifs used in architectural tile decoration from Iznik, or earlier Mamluk silks themselves inspired by Chinese examples. The so-called saz style (52.20.17) was also incorporated into textile design, featuring the sinuous outlining of motifs and jagged edges on leaves and flowers.

Associated with court painter Shah Qulu, saz motifs remained in use throughout the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Kara Memi, Shah Qulu's top pupil and successor as head of the nakkaşhane, added to the painter’s repertoire by developing a stylized iconography of floral motifs including carnations, roses, tulips, hyacinth, and cherry blossoms. These remained favorite motifs throughout the “Tulip Period” of Ahmed III (r. 1703–30).

For a velvet similarly decorated with chintamani motifs, from the same period, see: Kanuni Sultan Süleyman ve Çağı, Magyar Nemzeti Museum, Budapest, 1994, p. 100. A highly stylized example from the David Collection, Copenhagen, is published in Kjeld von Folsach’s Art from the World of Islam in the David Collection, Copenhagen, 2001, p. 382. For comparable pieces in the Topkapi Palace Museum, Istanbul, see Topkapi – Costumes, Embroideries and other Textiles, Thames & Hudson, London, 1986, pl. 7-10. For different interpretations of the same motif also see Christian Erber’s A Wealth of Silk and Velvet, Eidition Temmen, Bremen, Undated, pp. 88-93.

An identical velvet panel is in the Ömer Koç Collection, Istanbul, published in Hülya Bilgi’s Osmanli Ipekli Dokumalari Catma ve Kemha, Sadberk Hanim Muzesi, 2007, Istanbul, pp. 60-61.

Provenance: Private UK Collection

Extremely Rare And Highly Important Ottoman Velvet Panelmagnifing glass

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OTTOMAN PALACE-WORKSHOP EMBROIDERED SILK TRAY (SINI ) COVER

Turkey, 18th Century, Diameter: 191.5 cm.

Of circular form, the red silk ground embroidered with concentric garlands bearing large flower-heads around a medallion of profuse floral patterns. It belongs to a rare group of Ottoman textiles produced in the palace workshops. Sini covers, which were used to cover sinis (large trays) are particularly rare. The Turkish word sini, refers to large round tray traditionally used for serving meals, typically to multiple diners. The tray is placed on a sofra, a traditional dining table/stand, that raises it several inches off the floor. Foods are arrayed in small dishes around the tray. Each diner has a drinking glass, a napkin, and utensils arranged around the tray. Diners sit or kneel around the sini, using spoons to help themselves to the foods. Another embroidery is also placed under the tray, often large enough for diners to put the edges of it on their laps. Turkish-themed restaurants in Turkey and elsewhere sometimes use the word “Sini” in their names, to associate themselves with traditional Turkish dining. This is a rare example, produced in the 18th century. For comparable covers, produced in the palace workshops, from the Topkapi Palace Museum in Istanbul, please see: Michael Rogers’ Topkapı – Costumes, Embroideries and Other Textiles, London, 1986, pl. 106, p. 191. For silk covers in the Sadberk Hanım Museum in Istanbul please see: Hülya Bilgi’s Asırlar Sonra Bir Arada: Saberk Hanım Müzesi’nin Yurtdışından Türkiye’ye Kazandırdığı Eserler, İstanbul, 2005, pp. 182-195.

Provenance: Private UK Collection

OTTOMAN PALACE-WORKSHOP EMBROIDERED SILK TRAY (SINI ) COVERmagnifing glass

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OTTOMAN LEATHER DOCUMENT CASE, TURKEY, INSCRIBED “CONSTANTINOPLE, 1772, DON FISCO DE LLOVERA”

Turkey Inscription: “Constantinople, 1772, Don Fisco de Llovera” Dimensions: 12 x 19 cm.

Of concertina form, inscribed “Constantinople” and dated “1772”, applied on the underside of flap, the leather facings embroidered in silver-thread with designs consisting of leafy scrolls, arabesques and strapwork, inscription to the front concealed beneath the flap, also embroidered with the name “Don Fisco de Llovera”, interior lined with green silk. This beautiful document holder belongs to a small group of leather cases that were produced in Turkey in the second half of the Eighteenth-century and embroidered with foreign visitors’ names. A collection of comparable document holders also produced in eighteenth-century Constantinople are now in the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam (Sultans, Merchants, Painters – The Early Years of Turkish-Dutch Relations, Pera Museum Publications 54, Istanbul, 2012, pp.162-3).

Provenance: Private French Collection

OTTOMAN LEATHER DOCUMENT CASE, TURKEY, INSCRIBED “CONSTANTINOPLE, 1772, DON FISCO DE LLOVERA”magnifing glass

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