Ottoman Turkey

Illustrated Ottoman Turkish manuscripts reflecting Persian themes are less represented in the Bodleian Library collection than their Mughal Indian counterparts. Yet Persian literary works and language made an enormous contribution to the evolution of Ottoman imperial identity, especially in the early years of the dynasty, and the Ottomans adopted many elements of Persian culture and of its ancient Iranian prototypes.

In the mid-15th century, Sulṭān Murād II (r. 1421-51) and his son Mehmet II (r. 1451-81) collected luxury editions of classic Persian poetry as a necessity of cultured kingship. Both also wrote verse in the Persian-language literary tradition. Despite their close proximity to Christians, who formed the majority population of their newly conquered European territories, the Ottomans still looked primarily to Persianate models for their royal palaces, courtly behaviour, books and literary culture. After Mehmet II's defeat of Byzantine Constantinople in 1453, Ottoman literature developed its own style and was increasingly written in Turkish. Yet Persian stories and themes remained key components, and the Ottomans continued to be enthusiastic consumers of luxury manuscripts produced in the workshops of Iran.


Love and Devotion exhibition poster
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