Today, in the previous sleeping quarters of the treasury guards (Hazina Aghas) are, one the ground floor, very interesting calligraphy and miniature painting collections, and in the upper gallery, portraits of the sultans.
Calligraphy and Miniature Painting Collections
While Seljuk Turk mainly used “kufi” writng as callighraphy, which is the oldest form of Arabic, Ottomans prefferred the younger and livelier “nesih” and “sülüs” scripts for their calligraphy. Almost all Turkish calligraphy used in the Koran was written in “nesih”, while the headings were in”sülüs” form.
Turkish miniature art started in the 15th century during the reign of Ottoman sultan Mehmet II, with foreign artists invited to the palace, and coming from Persia, Hungary, Georgia and Albania. This art reached its peak in the late 19th century. Although Turkish miniature art was greatly under the influence of the Islamic religion in the beginning, it generally differed from other Islamic miniatures in form and style. Written works, usually in poetry form, were illustrated with miniatures. During the grand imperial period (16th-17th centuries), the artists’ themes were palace celebrations, victories hunting and paradise scenes, and between the 18th-19th centuries, dancing ladies, and delicate men with carnations or tulips in the hands were represented.
The most important works of Turkish miniature paintings are:
- “Surname” depicting the circumcision celebrations of the princes, whic continued for 52 days during the reign of Sultan Murat III, with 250 miniature paintings.
- “Siyer-i Nebi” dealing with the life of the Prophet Mohammed, in 6 volumes, with 914 miniature paintings. Three of these volumes are in the palace now.
- “Silsilename” (genealogical tree) is an album of the sultans’ portraits up until the time of Sultan Ahmet III (18th century)
On the same floor as the calligraphy and miniature painting collections in glass showcases around the long room are displayed: old and very valuable handwritten and hand-painted Korans (12th-17th centuries) in “kufi” writing, the oldest Arabic writings, and there is also and Arabic Bible written in Arabic, dating from the 4th century. In the “Mehmet Kara Kalem” collection dating from the 14th-15th centuries are 64 pictures depicting battles, dances and mythological human/animal creatures. Also depicted are scenes from Middle Asian nomadic life. These are done in in charcoal and water colours.
The miniatures displayed here have the following themes: a festival in the palace, a Hungarian minister being received by Sultan Mehmet III, miniatures of the sultans, the meeting of “Mevlana”, a Turkish mystic of the 13th century -with his friend “Şems”, hunting scenes, Mecca, Medina Moses and others.
Also displayed are: leather and gold -bronze- covered Koran bindings decorated with stylized flowers, a precious writing box with mother -of- pearl and horn with its attractive jewelled inkwell, golden seals of the sultans, three of which were made from emeralds, a long gold -plated paper scissors, a knife which was once used to sharpen quill pens, is of interest, the handle is decorated with coral and ivory.
The most important and interesting piece of this collection is the map of Piri Reis, a Turkish admiral, dating from the year 1513. On the map we see the western coast of Africa and Europe, the Atlantic Ocean and South America. The beholder of the map is given the feeling, due to its perspective, that it was drawn from a viewpoint somewhere in outer space. Erich von Daniken mentioned this interesting map in one of his works.
Turkey Cappadocia Tours