Cover fragment, linen with silk embroidery, 17th century
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.
Cover fragment, linen with silk embroidery, 18th century
Ottoman art reflects the wealth, abundance, and influence of an empire which spanned seven centuries and, at its height, three continents. The Sultan’s Garden chronicles how stylized tulips, carnations, hyacinths, honeysuckles, roses, and rosebuds came to embellish nearly all media produced by the Ottoman court beginning in the mid-16th century. These instantly recognizable elements became the brand of the empire, and synonymous with its power. Incredibly, the development of this design identity can be attributed to a single artist, Kara Memi, working in the royal arts workshop of Istanbul. The Sultan’s Garden unveils the influence of Ottoman floral style and traces its continuing impact through the textile arts—some of the most luxurious and technically complex productions of the empire.
Kilim fragment, Cairo, Egypt, Probably early 18th century. Collection of Marshall and Marilyn R. Wolf.
Small red-ground carpet with carnations, Probably South-west Anatolia, 19th century. TM R34.2.6, Acquired by George Hewitt Myers in 1912.
Velvet yastik face, Bursa, 17th century. TM 1.54. Acquired by George Hewitt Myers in 1951.
Cap, Damascus or Aleppo, Syria, Around 1800. Private Collection
Skirt border (detail), Crete, 17th century. Private collection
Fragment of yellow-ground kemhal, Istanbul, Second half 16th century. TM 1.47, Acquired by George Hewitt Myers in 1947.