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With a privileged place in Islamic book arts, Ottoman miniatures are of great value by reason of their documentary value, as well as their realistic approach especially historically oriented artworks.
These pictures not only constituted visual documents of good use in numerous studies in the fields of history, sociology, cultural history and others, but also provided inspiration to post-Republic Turkish painting.

In a general definition, book illustrations applied to visualize the events depicted in manuscripts are called Miniatures. Miniatures are included within book arts, which is the reason of their small sizes. The artist has to keep the size of their depictions, patterns and designs quite small. The artist’s objective is to represent the subject matter with a pictorial expression by identifying all details included in the manuscript.

Miniatures are bereft of the concentric perspective in the Western sense. Figures do not overlap each other. Ones at the back are drawn upwards to form the fore and backgrounds. Miniatures are characterized by proportions based on the importance of persons, lack of dimensional differences in landscapes and architectural structures, full disclosure of details and use of gold and silver.

Miniatures have been produced via all types of painting techniques such as striping, spilling, plotting and shading. Contours and finest decorations are engraved with quite fine brushes formerly made of cat hair and known as quill pen. This fine brush is now made of sable (1).

Ottoman Miniature (2)

Ottoman miniature was built on the Seljuk pictorial style developed with the contributions of Turks as of the XI Century and the pictorial language of classic Islamic miniature created in Iranian land under the dominance of Timurids and Celayirs in late XVI Century and early XV Century (3).

After the Conquest of Istanbul, Ottoman miniature opened itself up to the interaction between the East and the West and demonstrated a characteristic development thanks to the works of artists coming from Anatolia, Rumelia and Iran. As of the mid-XVI Century, this art form reached its classic style.

In works depicting literature, science and history with this classic style embraced until early XVII Century, context-dependent and free patterns of depiction and expression were created. 

Sultan’s portraits, one of the most important subjects of Ottoman miniature, produced its first examples in the reign of Fatih with the works of Sinan Bey and Şiblizade Ahmed and continued with both serial and individual images of the dynasty without losing its importance until late XIX Century with the efforts of Nigari, Nakkaş Osman, Nakkaş Hasan, Ahmed Nakşi, Hüseyin Istanbuli , Levni , Refail and Konstantin of Kapıdağ.

City and harbour depictions of Matrakçı Nasuh , who created the earliest examples of figure-free landscape defined as topographical art in Turkish painting, were taken as examples by muralists in the following periods. These depictions were sometimes used as details and sometimes spread over the whole composition.

In the second half of the XVI Century, such different types of manuscripts as Şehname, Gazavatname and Surname were illustrated with new arrangements and pastel colours by a team led by Nakkaş Osman.

With the widespread use of album works in the XVII Century, the number of clothing albums targeting both the Palace and foreigners visiting Istanbul increased with and miniatures visualising prophets, heroes, sultans and love stories on large Istanbul paper.

For the first time during the early reign of Sultan Mehmed III, Silsilename style manuscripts depicting prophets and Ottoman sultans were reinvented towards the end of this century and illustrated via depictions with Western influences of Hüseyin Istanbuli (4).

As of early XIII Century, three dimensional designs emerged with shadowed voluminous objects with depth using the traditional technique as a result of the preference of European rules of painting with the Westernization movement. Such muralists as İbrahim and Abdullah Buhari, following Levni in this movement, played quite significant roles.

Towards the end of this century, some manuscripts were illustrated with techniques that went against the traditional miniature arts with the replacement of natural glued dye with gouache and watercolour paint.
In this period, depictions boiled over from book arts to walls and canvases. In early XIX Century, however, Ottoman miniature lost its significance. Without breaking away from the traditions, artists of this period became the pioneers the new painting tradition which would later be widespread with the education on Western painting initiated in schools after the Reforms (Tanzimat) with the efforts to embrace the Western influences (5).

Types of Manuscripts with Ottoman Miniatures

Works on Literature can be grouped as divan, mesnevi, hamse made up of five mesnevi, magazines of poetry compilations, sayings and stories.

Works on History have a very important place among manuscripts with Ottoman miniatures and can be grouped as şehname and gazavatname.

Şehname is the most important type of Ottoman manuscripts as it documents significant events of its respective period and includes miniatures that define the painting style. Şehname works became an official institution that continued without any interruption until the 1640s. (6). Gazavatname, on the other hand, provides detailed depictions of wars written in poetry form or mesnevi.

Silsilename is an illustrated manuscript that traces the ancestry of sultans to all religious and historical figures starting with Adam.

Surname is an illustrated manuscript depicting circumcision (sünnet) festivities (Surname-i Humayun, Surname-i Vehbi, etc.).

Works on Science can be grouped as encyclopaedic works on history, marine, cartography, geography, cosmography, astrology, medicine and biography.

Album pictures are depictions on various subjects such as events, conventions, Turkish baths, dervishes and coffee houses.

Works on the history of prophets, cifir and Islamic mysticism.




 (1) For more information on the miniature technique..          
      H.Behzad Tahirzade, Minyatürün Tekniği, AÜ İFD,S.1,Ank. 1953
      Cahide Keskiner, Minyatür Sanatında Doğa Çizim ve Boyama Teknikleri, Kültür Bakanlığı,2004
      Sevgi Akbulut, Osmanlı Minyatür Tekniği, Ank.2006
      Ş.aksoy, Kitap Süslemelerinde Türk Barok Rokoko Uslubu, Sanat 6, 1977
      Uğur Derman, Türk Sanatında Murakkalar, İlgi, S.32, İstanbul 1981

(2) See more information about Ottoman Period miniatures
      B.Mahir, Kanuni Döneminde Yaratılmış Yaygın Bezeme Uslubu; Saz Yolu, Türkiyemiz 54, 1998
      Banu Mahir, Anadolu’da Türk Minyatürünün ilk Örnekleri, Osmanlı 11, Yeni Türkiye Yayınları, Ankara 1999
      Banu Mahir, Osmanlı minyatür Sanatı,İst.2005
      Banu Mahir, Osmanlı Sanatında Saz Uslubundan anlaşılan, Topkapı Sarayı Yıllığı, S.2 İstanbul 1987
      Banu Mahir, Kanuni Döneminde Yaratılmış Yaygın Bezeme Uslubu; Saz Yolu, Türkiyemiz 54, 1998
      Banu Mahir, II. Beyazıd Devri Nakkaşhanesinin Osmanlı Tezhip Sanatına Katkıları, Türkiyemiz S.60, 1990
      Cahide Keskiner,Türk Süsleme Sanatlarında Stilize Çiçekler,Hatai, Ankara 2000
      Filiz Çağman, Anadolu Türk Minyatürü, Anadolu uygarlıkları Ansiklopedisi,C.5,İst.1982
      Gülbün Mesara, Türk tezhip ve Minyatür Sanatı, Sandoz Bülteni,1987 S.25
      Günsel Renda, Osmanlı Minyatür Sanatı, İst.2001
      Hüseyin Yurdaydın, Matrakçı Nasuh, Ankara,1963
      İlhan Özkeçeci-Şule Bilge Özkeçeci, Türk Sanatında Tezhip, İst.2007
      İlhan Özkeçeci, Türk Sanatında Kompozisyon, İst 2008
      Oktay Aslanapa, Türk Sanatı El Kitabı, İnkilap, İstanbul
Ş.aksoy, Kitap Süslemelerinde Türk Barok Rokoko Uslubu, Sanat 6, 1977
      Yıldız Demiriz, İslam Sanatında Geometrik Süsleme, İstanbul2000
      Yıldız Demiriz, Osmanlı Kitap Sanatında Naturalist Çiçekler, İstanbul 1986
      Zeren Tanındı, Türk Minyatür Sanatı, Başlangıcından bu güne Türk Sanatı, İş Bankası Yay.,Ank.1993
      Zeynep T.Ertuğ, Minyatürler ve Tarihi Belge Özellikleri, Osmanlı 11, Yeni Türkiye Yayınları, Ankara 1999

(3) See more information about Early Period miniatured works 
     AVon Le Cog, Die Buddhistische Spatantike in Mittelasien, Zweiter Teil, Die Manichaeischen       Miniaturen, Berlin 1923 (1973),s.61-62
     Ernst J.Grube,Islamic Paintings from The 11th to The 18th Centuries in The Collection of      Hans P.Kraus,New York 1972,s.28-29,dipnot 8
     Güner İnal, Türk Minyatür Sanatı

(4) See more information
of Manuscripts with Ottoman Miniatures 
     M.Kemal Özergin, Selçuklu Sanatçısı Nakkaş Abdümümin el-Hoyi Hakkında, Belleten, cilt 24,Ank.1970
     Ahmet Ateş, Un Vieux Poeme Romanesque Persan; Recit de Warkah et Gulshah,Ars Orientalis,IV,1961
     A.S.Melikian-Chirvani, La Roman de Varque et Golsah, Arts Asiatuques,özel sayı 1970
     Abbas Daneshvari, Animal Sybolism in Warqa wa Gulshah, Oxford,1986
     Emel Esin, Selçuk Devrine Ait Resimli Bir Anadolu Yazması,Türk Sanatı Tarihi Araştırma ve İncelemeleri,I,İst. 1963
     Filiz Adıgüzel Toprak, Arifi’nin Süleymannamesi’ndeki Minyatürlerde Saltanata ilişkin Simgeler, DEÜ GSF Yayınları, İzmir 
Günsel Renda, Chester Beatty Kitaplığındaki Zübdetü’t-Tevarih ve Minyatürleri, İÜ EF Tarih Araştırma Mrk.İst.1991
     Marianne Barrucand, The Miniatures of The Daqa’iq al-Haqa’iq (Bibliotheque Nationale Pers.174) Atestimony to the Culturel Diversity of the Medieval Anatolia,Islamic Art, IV, New York,1991
    Serpil Bağcı, Osmanlı Dünyasında Efsanevi Yönetici İmgesi Olarak Büyük İskender ve Osmanlı İskendernamesi, Ank.1994
    Ernst J.Grube, The Date of Venice Iskender-name,Islamic Art, An Annual Dedicated to the Art and Culture of the Muslim World,II,1987
    Ivan Stchoukinei,Miniatures Turques de Temps de Mohammad II,Arts Asiatiques 1967
    Esin Atıl, Ottoman Miniature Painting under Sultan Mehmet II,

    C.J.lamm,Miniatures from the Reign of Beyazıd II in a Manuscript Belonging to Uppsala  University Library,Orientalia Suecana, edenta curavit Erk Gren,C.1,Uppsala 1942
    Filiz Çağman-Zeren Tanında,Topkapı Sarayı Müzesi İslam Minyatürleri,No.136
    Ayşin Yoltar Yıldırım,
An Accomplişhed Artist of the Book at the Ottoman Court;1515-1530, M.Uğur Derman Festschrift, İst.2000
    Tahsin Öz,
Hünername ve Minyatürleri
,Güzel Sanatlar,S.1,İst.1939
    Nigar Anafarta, Hünername Minyatürleri ve Sanatçıları,İst. 1969
    Nurhan Atasoy, 1582 Sürname-i Hümayun Düğün Kitabı, İst. 1997
    Nurhan Atasoy, Nakkaş Osman'ın Padişah portreleri Albumü, Türkiyemiz, 1972
    Zeren Tanındı, XVI.yy.Nakkaşlarından Hasan Paşa ve Eserleri,.MATK,İst. 15-20.X.1973
    Zeren Tanındı,Tarihi Konularda İlk Osmanlı Minyatürleri, Sanat Tarihi YıllığıII, 1969

    Zeren Tanındı, Siyer-i Nebi, İslam Tasvir Sanatında Hz.Muhammedin hayatı, İst.1984
    Bahattin Yaman,Osmanlı Resim Sanatında Kıyamet Alametleri: Tercüme’i Cifrul-Cami ve        Tasvirli Nushaları, HÜ  SBE Yayınlanmamış Doktora Tezi, Ank.2002                                                          
    Esin Atıl, Ahmet Nakşi, An Eclectic Painter of the 17th Century, Fifth International Congress of Turkish Art,Budapeşte 1978
    Filiz Çağman, Ali Üsküdari, İslam Ansiklopedisi, İstanbul 1989
    Fulya Bodur, 18.Yüzyılın Ünlü bir Müzehhibi Rugani Ali Üsküdari, Kaynaklar 3/Bahar, 1984
    Kemal Çığ, 18.Yüzyıl Lake Tezhipçilerinden Ali al-Üsküdari, Türk Tarih, Arkeologya ve Etnografya Dergisi,S.5,  İstanbul 1949
    Gülnur Duran, 18.Yüzyıl Müzehhip, Çiçek Ressamı ve Lake Üstadı Ali Üsküdari, Osmanlı 11, Yeni Türkiye Yayınları, Ankara 1999
    Zeren Tanındı, Transformation of Words to İmages, Portraits of Ottoman Courtiers in the Diwans of Baki and  Nadiri

    Banu Mahir, Osmanlı Padişah Portreciliğinde Ahmet Nakşi, VI.Ortaçağ ve Türk Dönemi Kazı Sonuçları ve Sanat Tarihi Sempozyumu,2002
    Hans Georg Majer, Individualized Sultans and Sexy Womwn, The Works of Musavvir Hüseyin and Their East-West Context,

    Hans Georg Majer,Musavvir Hüseyin ein Meister der Osmanischen Miniaturmalerei des spaten 17. Jahrhunderts
    Esin Atıl, Levni ve Sürname, Bir Osmanlı Şenliğinin Öyküsü
    Yıldız Demiriz, Osmanlı Kitap Sanatında Naturalist Uslupta Çiçekler, İstanbul 1986

(5) See more information on the Westernization period.     Günsel Renda-Turan Erol,Başlangıcından Bugüne Çağdaş Türk Resim SanatıTarihi,İst.1980
     Günsel Renda, Batılılaşma Döneminde Türk Resim Sanatı1700-1850

     Günsel Renda, Traditional Turkish Painting and the Beginning of Western Trends

(6) See more information about Şehname works association .
      Filiz Adıgüzel Toprak, Arifi’nin Süleymannamesi’ndeki Minyatürlerde Saltanata ilişkin Simgeler, DEÜ GSF Yayınları, İzmir 

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