After the conquest of Istanbul by the Turks in 1453, the sultan’s treasure was preserved in the Yedikule fortress for a few years. In 1478 it was transferred to Topkapi Palace and kept in the building presently being used to hold the arms collection. The original summer palace of Sultan Mehmet II was later turned into a treasury during the reign of Sultan Selim I in the 16th century. Since that time the treasure of the Ottoman Empire has been kept in the same rooms as they are at present.
During the sultans’s reign the Treasury was opened and closed with ceremony by 40 men each time. The Treasury was at its wealthiest during the reign of Sultan Selim I in the 16th century.
The Treasury of Topkapi Palace is considered to be the second richest treasury in the world today, always displaying original objects of value and never their replicas. According to an old tradition, some of the presently displayed precious treasures went to sacred places like the Kaaba and thetomb of the Prophet Mohammed in Medina, with the sultan’s pilgrimages (Sürre Alayı). Most of these treasures were gained back later and are in different rooms of the Treasury today. Objects presently displayed in the Treasury came into Ottoman possession from different sources:
1- Gifts given to the sultans by foreign officials.
2- Objects of value prepared in the workshops of the palace according to the sultan’s tastes.
3- Treasures passed into the possession of the palace after the death of statesmen.
4- Spoils of war from conquered countries.
The itens are displayed in four rooms. An effory has been made to put smilar treasures together in the same room.
Ladies’s jewellery is seldom seen in the treasury rooms as it was not the custom to retain such jewellry.
The first room
In the central glass showcases are gold-decorated jewellery, weaponry, crystal water pipes and their brilliantly ornamented amber mouthpieces, coffee cups and valuable bowls. Under them, the statuettes of a negro slave and a sheikh sitting on a throne deserve particular attention, as the chest of the sheikh and the legs of the negro are made from large pearls.
Around this room, in glass showcases attached to the walls are: the magnificent armour of Sultan Mustafa III which is decorated with precios stones, and gold-plated steel net, a sword and battle shield decorated with precious stones, and two gold-plated silver stirrups belong to this armour. As one continues, one sees pearl-decorated Koran bindings belanging to the sultans’ families, and the throne of Sultan Murat IV which was made of ebony and inlaid with mother-of-pearl and ivory. Also to be seen are valuable water carafes, jugs, and golden candle holders.
Among the walking sticks displayed in a glass showcase on the left, is one with a handle decorated with brillants. This is of particular interest and was a gift from the German emperor Wilhelm II to Sultan Abdülhamit II.
Continuing on, a golden music box originating from India and with a gold-plated elephant (17th century) can be seen.
The second room
In the centre of the room is the magnificent throne of Sultan Ahmet I (17th century), made of walnut and inlaid with mother-of-pearl and tortoiseshell. Under its baldachino, a golden pendant with a large emerald hangs from a fine chain.
Around the room in glass showcases are pendants of gold and precious stones, splendid pendulums of Sultan Abdülhamit I and Ahmet I, a turban decorated with jewellery, plumes ornamented with diamonds and rubies, which were attached to the front of the sultans’ turbans from time to time.
In the glass showcases on the left, are displayed mainly jade and rock-crystal objects that were often manufactered in the workshops of the palace. One item of great attraction is a jade vessel in the form of a ship, decorated with precious stones, which was a gift from the Russian Tsar Nikolai II. Below the rock-crystal pieces are very beautiful writing boxes and ink containers with gold covers and diamonds and emeralds. In the glass showcase on the left before the entrance to the third room, is a goldplated cradle for newly-born princes.
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