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.
Edirne, Turkey, 1455-56. This manuscript, a copy of the Dilsūznāmah or Book of Compassion by Badīʿ al-Dīn Manūchihr al-Tājirī al-Tabrīzī (fl. late 14th cent.), is a rare dated example from the early period of Ottoman Turkish book production. An unknown scribe copied it at Edirne, in Thrace. It tells the popular story of the rose and the nightingale, through human protagonists of the same name. It is an example of the way Persian stories, and the poets and scribes who wrote and copied them, travelled far beyond the borders of Iran. (MS. Ouseley 133, fol. 62a)
Manuscript copied late 16th or early 17th century. This manuscript is a Turkish translation of a work by a Persian cosmographer, who wrote the original in Arabic. The original author, Zakarīyā ibn Muḥammad al-Qazvīnī (d. 1283), compiled previous texts of astronomy, astrology, geography, zoology and botany in order to produce an encyclopedic work that condensed the entire understanding of the physical world of his time. The purpose was to induce wonder at divine creation in all its variety. (MS. Turk. d. 2, fols. 40b)