Venetian Red Notebook: The Flowering of the Ottoman Empire

OttomanTulipLinen cover with silk embroidery, 18th Century
The Textile Museum, Washington, D.C.

For nearly 500 years, from 1453-1922, the Imperial City of Istanbul was the seat of power of the Ottoman Empire. The bazaars of this cosmopolitan city were filled with heaps of dazzling embroidered textiles. These stunning fabrics, inspired by the famous gardens of Istanbul, brought the beauty of nature indoors. These textiles played an important role in every aspect of daily life—they were used for decoration, clothing, and as part of ritual observances. In addition to the beauty they provided, the production of these fabrics played a large role in the economy of the Ottoman Empire.

Here is a small sampling of  lush florals, woven in silk, all from the collection of  The Smithsonian’s Textile Museum. Not only are these patterns inventive and beautiful, they are filled with life and movement—though stylized, these embroidered flowers have all the energy and vitality of the gardens that inspired them.

Ottoman2Linen cover with silk embroidery, 17th century

Ottoman3Cover fragment, linen with silk embroidery, 17th century

Ottoman4Cover, linen with silk embroidery, 17th century

Ottoman5Cover fragment, linen with silk embroidery, 17th century

Ottoman6Cover fragment, linen with silk embroidery, 18th century

Ottoman7Bohca,(wrapping cloth), linen with silk embroidery, 18th century

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2 Responses to “Venetian Red Notebook: The Flowering of the Ottoman Empire”

  1. The DC area has a huge amount of museums for a city its size. As you know, many of them are considered national museums and some of those are under the aegis of the Smithsonian. Many are private. The Textile Museum is one of the private museums that is dear to our hearts. Thank you for this excellent article.

  2. For an example of unsurpassed Ottoman gold embroidery (on velvet jacket), see

    http://www.marlamallett.com/e-8200.htm

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