Venetian Red Notebook: The Flowering of the Ottoman Empire
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.