October 21, 2021

Lucky Life

Arts Fanatics

Sultanahmet storied treasures: Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts

5 min read

When you move onto Sultanahmet Square, one particular of the most well-liked places in Istanbul, on just one facet you will see the Hagia Sophia Grand Mosque, one of the most famed temples in history, and on the other, the Blue Mosque with its distinctive tiles.

A minimal further alongside stands the Topkapı Palace with its priceless collection, then the Serpent Column from the days of the Byzantine Emperor Constantine the Wonderful, and of program the Obelisk of Theodosius, with its background stretching from Egypt to Rome.

Nevertheless, there is yet another treasure that remains in the shadows among all this impressive historical past: the Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts.

Positioned right driving the Blue Mosque and hosting hundreds of artifacts from Islamic record, the museum has a pretty fascinating founding tale. It is also the tale of the archaeological plunder of imperialism in the Center East.



The courtyard of the Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts. (Photo by Murat Tarık)

From Troy: Plunder of Islamic buildings

The Ottoman Empire, launched upon a wealthy cultural heritage on 3 continents, hosted many excavations by overseas archaeologists, but it was also subjected to quite a few “archaeological plunders.”

The smuggling of historic artifacts from historic cities this kind of as Troy by names like Heinrich Schliemann is famous.

At the conclude of the 19th century, when the weary empire was having difficulties with successive wars, Islamic buildings were being targeted extensively. Some Westerners even began to dismantle historic religious buildings that have been even now in use.

The crucial sections of mosques and other temples, this kind of as their doors and tiles, were being remaining secretly transported to Europe.

Journey of historical artifacts to Istanbul

At the starting of the 20th century, the Ottoman government experimented with to shield the ancient archaeological remains and took action in purchase to defend and preserve Islamic artifacts.

For the duration of the period of Ürgüplü Mustafa Hayri (Mustafa Hayri of Ürgüp), the minister of foundations, a conclusion was made to move the artworks in spiritual places that were being remaining plundered to Istanbul. However, presented the technological innovation out there a century ago, it was not at all uncomplicated to transportation precious objects to Istanbul.

In spite of this truth, artifacts from quite a few cities, from Thrace to Damascus, had been transported to the cash: distinctive carpets, unusual tiles, cherished manuscripts and much a lot more. All of them have been introduced applying the indicates of the time.

When the yr 1914 came about, adequate artifacts had been collected to set up a museum. That yr, the very first museum bringing alongside one another Islamic artifacts was established as part of the Süleymaniye Elaborate, beneath the identify of “Evkaf-ı Islamiyye Museum” (Islamic Foundations Museum).

So, Islamic cultural artifacts had located a shelter.


Curators of 'The Art of the Quran: Treasures from the Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts' exhibit, look at pages from a 5-foot by 7-foot Quran, at the Sackler Gallery in Washington, U.S., Oct. 20, 2016. (AP Photo)
Curators of “The Artwork of the Quran: Treasures from the Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts” exhibit, glimpse at webpages from a 5-foot by 7-foot Quran, at the Sackler Gallery in Washington, U.S., Oct. 20, 2016. (AP Photograph)

After the Republic of Turkey was founded, the museum was turned into the “Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts” (TIEM). In 1925, in quickly Westernizing Turkey, the doors of spiritual areas these types of as khankahs (places for religious retreat), zawiyas (Islamic spiritual educational institutions) and tombs were being shut by the state.

This decision had confined religious freedoms, but it also intended that the second main move of artworks to TIEM experienced started.

By 1926, artifacts from shutdown religious venues had been transferred to the museum. In 1983, TIEM had moved to the Pargalı Ibrahim Pasha (Ibrahim Pasha of Parga) Palace, also in Sultanahmet, and it nonetheless operates there today.

Singular works, beneath shadow

The Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts usually takes its website visitors on a tour of Islamic record, setting up from the period of the Four Caliphs or the Rashidun – the very first 4 Caliphs pursuing the passing absent of the Prophet Muhammad who were also his close companions.

Among its artifacts, some stand out the “Damascus Documents,” a collection of handwritten manuscripts, sacred objects, calligraphy will work by sultans who ended up also artists, and, of training course, historical carpets.

World’s most treasured carpets

TIEM is most well-known for its assortment of the most precious carpets in the entire world. The museum, which is also known as the “carpet museum” overseas, hosts and exhibits far more than 1,700 carpets.

Seljuk carpets from the 13th century that cannot be uncovered any where else are viewed as among the the most valuable performs in the museum. The bases of these carpets are regarded to have motivated 16th-century German artist Hans Holbein the Youthful and 16th-century Italian painter Lorenzo Lotto.

In point, for this cause, they are referred to by the names of these artists.

The actuality that these carpets, which ended up woven from natural and organic products, have been preserved and have stayed intact for eight centuries overwhelms viewers with a amazing sensation.


A Quran is displayed as part of the exhibit 'The Art of the Quran: Treasures from the Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts,' at the Sackler Gallery in Washington, U.S., Oct. 20, 2016. (AP Photo)
A Quran is displayed as portion of the show “The Art of the Quran: Treasures from the Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts,” at the Sackler Gallery in Washington, U.S., Oct. 20, 2016. (AP Image)

The oldest Quran

The museum is instilled with a sturdy religious part. In the “Sacred Relics” part, 1 can find the footprint and beard strands of the Prophet Muhammad, and the Quran that is imagined to belong to Hazret-i Osman and Hazret-i Ali, two of the very first four Islamic Caliphs.

1 of the Qurans in the stock of the museum is likely the oldest Quran in the world, and that risk is at the moment getting analyzed scientifically.

Each take a look at a new discovery

There are roughly 40,000 works in the selection of the museum, which also contains the ruins of the Hippodrome on the floor flooring. Nonetheless, only 10% of it is exhibited. As a result, it is fairly doable to develop a handful of a lot more museums from some components of TIEM.

As such, some of the will work in the warehouses are presented to artwork fans with rotating displays and short-term exhibitions. In other text, it is feasible to discover new treasures each time you visit the Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts.

With the integration of the Islamic faith with artwork, it is probable to see in the museum fairly extravagant and embellished artifacts and in some cases extra abstract is effective

The calligraphy arts of the Ottoman Empire in the meantime, stand out as the pinnacle of all artworks. The calligraphy operates of rulers, these kinds of as the Ottoman Sultan Abdulmejid I, on the other hand, can be read as an indicator that the curiosity in artwork unfold from the palace to culture.

When you go away the museum, which is structured chronologically, you gain a improved comprehending of the aesthetic richness of the Islamic states that dominated a large and diverse region from the borders of China to the Adriatic Ocean, and you discover you in a point out of contemplation.

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