Byzantine and Russian icons, £15.99
Height: 132.000 mm
Width: 52.000 mm
Transferred from the Department of Oriental Manuscripts and Printed Books, British Library
ME OA 1974.6-17.013
Peter Mundy, A briefe relation of the Turckes, their Kings, Emperors or Grandsigneurs, their conquests, religion, customes, habbits at Constantinople, etc, an ilustrated manuscript
From Istanbul, modern Turkey
An Englishman's account of Ottoman court life
Peter Mundy was an English traveller in Istanbul in 1618. In this manuscript he gives an account of many aspects of the Ottoman court, including descriptions and illustrations of many of the members of the imperial household, from the chief eunuch to the cupbearer. He also provides short biographies of earlier Ottoman sultans, and outlines the hierarchy of the civil government, and the basic tenets of Islam. There are also depictions of members of minority groups in Istanbul such as the Persians, Armenians and Jews, each portrayed in their national costumes. The practice of illustrating individual figures from various walks of life derives from the costume book, a popular genre among travelling Europeans, and also in the Ottoman court.
The inserted illustrations of various court figures were probably bought by the author in Istanbul, and are an example of seventeenth-century 'bazaar art', produced commercially for visiting foreigners.
Each small painting is labelled in Turkish and bordered with paper cutouts of trees and flowers, based upon more elaborate openwork produced by Ottoman court artists. Floral papercuts were an alternative to a painted border around a picture.
J.M. Rogers, Islamic art and design 1500-17 (London, The British Museum Press, 1983)
B. Brend, Islamic art (London, The British Museum Press, 1991)