Saturday, October 7, 2017


Sultanahmet, Fatih - Istanbul - Turkey

GPS : 41°00'47.2"N 28°59'02.9"E / 41.013105, 28.984139

Third Courtyard



The Mosque of the Ağas (Ağalar Camii) is the largest mosque in the palace. It is also one of the oldest constructions, dating from the 15th century during the reign of Sultan Mehmed II. The Sultan, the ağas and pages would come here to pray. The mosque is aligned in a diagonal line in the courtyard to make the minbar face Mecca. In 1928 the books of the Enderûn Library, among other works, were moved here as the Palace Library (Sarayı Kütüphanesi), housing a collection of about 13,500 Turkish, Arabic, Persian and Greek books and manuscripts, collected by the Ottomans. Located next to the mosque to the northeast is the Imperial Portraits Collection.

The Sultan, the squires and pages would come here to pray. The mosque is aligned in a diagonal line in the courtyard to make the minber  face Mecca.  It is situated adjacent to the Privy Chamber on the Golden Horn side of the Enderûn Courtyard. Its large central section was covered with a large barrel vault in the 18th Century. There are two narrow lateral spaces on each of the two sides.

There is a separate mihrab (altar) in the section facing the Privy Chamber. The second lateral section facing the other side is reserved for the squires from the Dormitory of the Expeditionary Force and the Pantry and Treasury Wards to perform their prayers. Three windows in the rear of the large section open up to the Harem masjid where Sultans as well as the Sultanas (Mothers of the reigning Sultans) and the Sultans’ wives used to fulfill their religious prayers.

The walls of the Mosque of the Ağas are covered with 17th Century tiles. The most interesting examples are the stacks with the Arabic letter vav, bearing the signature of the Archer Mustafa. This is a space reserved for the prayers of high-level squires. The most significant restoration carried out in previous centuries, of this stone and brick masonry building was the renovation by Es-Seyyid Mehmed Ağa of the adjacent small mosque, according to a door inscription in the interior.

The tile epigraph on the inside of the door refers to the date of 1136 A.H. (1722 Gregorian) and to the name of “Es-Seyyid Mehmed Ağa”.  The building used as a warehouse from 1881 onwards was restored in 1916.  The newer inscription by Kâmil Akdik dated 1928 indicates that following a further restoration of the Mosque of the Ağas in 1925, the books from the Sultan Ahmet III (Enderûn) Library and other libraries in the Palace were all moved here so that all the libraries in the Palace were unified under the name of New Library or Palace Library.



The Topkapı Scroll
The Topkapı Scroll, the best preserved example of its kind, contains far-reaching implications for the theory and praxis of geometric design in Islamic architecture and ornament. Created by master builders in the late medieval Iranian world, the scroll compiles a rich repertory of geometric drawings for wall surfaces and vaults. This important document belongs to a once-widespread Islamic tradition of scrolls in which geometric patterns ranging from ground plans and vault projections to epigraphic panels and architectural ornament in diverse media appeared side by side.

The Koran Collection At The Topkapı Palace Library
When the Topkapı Palace, the home of the Ottoman sultans and the administrative center of the Ottoman Empire for four hundred years, was turned into a museum in 1924, the manuscripts, found in many pavilions and rooms, were gathered together to form the New Library. Today, the Islamic manuscripts preserved in this new library have been sorted out into categories of Arabic, Farsi and Turkish.

A complete catalogue was compiled and published by F.E. Karatay in 1960. The first of the Arabic catalogues contains Korans and works of Koranic commentary. These Korans and Commentaries, which have been gathered from the various pavilions, buildings and rooms of the Palace and are classified by the name of the location where they were found, number more than two thousand.

The collection of Korans, the richest to be found anywhere in the world, comprises texts of the Koran inscribed during the 7th - 19th centuries in Arabia, India, Maghrib (North Africa) and the lands dominated by the Seljuks and Ottomans. Almost all have been prepared by famous calligraphers, gilded by master gilders, and bound by the most capable bookbinders of the times. The 1600 or more Korans found in the first volume of the Arabic catalogue are preserved in the Palace Library as rare books.

Among these are seven believed to be inscribed by khaliph Osman (RA), nine accredited to khaliph Ali (RA), two ascribed to Hasan and Hussein (RA) as well as many translations. There are twenty-one Turkish translations, thirty-nine Farsi translations, twenty-one Chagatay translations and one Uygur translation.

The first Korans were written on parchment in the 7th - 8th centuries in a monumental type of script called kufic. This script, whose name is derived from Kufa, an early Islamic center, is a style of Arabic script closest to pictorial design. Kufic script, most characterised with its horizontal and vertical lines, showed regional peculiarities in the 9th century. The kufic script of Iran differed from the kufic of the regions of Baghdad and North Africa. The script used in Baghdad and North Africa was more dynamic and of slighter dimension.

The first Korans written in kufic script, besides the one believed to have been recited by khaliph Osman (RA) at the moment of his death, are the Korans written in vertical form. In addition to those written on parchment, there are those of the 9th -11th centuries inscribed on thick dark paper with sepia ink using delicate kufic lines. Also in the Palace collection are Korans prepared in North African cities such as Ceuta and Marrakech between the 12th and 16th centuries.

These are written on parchment on thick dark paper in Maghribi kufic with gilded frontispiece, illuminated surah headings, surah titles, marginal rosettes and sajdah marks. Kufic script was used in copying the text of the Koran until the middle of the tenth century. Examples of eastern Iranian kufic continued to be seen until the twelfth century. From the eleventh century onwards, a more rounded type of script was used in the writing of the Koranic text. The main type of script characterising this new tendency was naskhi, a style completely opposite in appearance to kufic.

This script began to be characterised in the first ten years of the tenth century when a calligrapher named Ibn al-Muqla used the length of the letter alif as a proportional guide At the beginning of the eleventh century another calligrapher named Ibn al-Bawwab created a freer naskhi.

After Ibn al-Bawwab, Yakut al-Mustasimi, a Turk from Amasya living in the Abbasid Baghdad of the thirteenth century, specified the rules for six different scripts in the art of calligraphy. The scribes trained by Yakut spread his style in Koranic script to all Islamic countries. The scripts he used in the main text were naskhi, muhaqqaq, rayhani. In the surah titles and other additions tawqi, riga, thuluth and kufic were used.

In the second half of the thirteenth century Korans written in rayhani script begin to appear. All these resemble naskhi of Yakut al-Mustasimi (d.1298) Although both small and large styles of rayhani were used in Iranian Korans until the late fourteenth century, this style was rare in the Mameluke Korans. Besides naskhi and rayhani scripts, the more majestic thuluth and muhaqqaq scripts were the styles to gain more popularity and appear more frequently in the Korans that have come down to us from the twelfth century.

Examples where muhaqqaq script is used in combination with rayhani appear in Iran at the end of that century. Although the technique was used in both Iran and Turkey, it was not preferred by the Arabic speaking countries.

At the beginning of the fourteenth century the only script to be used in copying the Koranic text in the Islamic world was muhaqqaq. In the Egypt of the Mamelukes, however, this type of script made its appearance only in the second half of the same century. Gilders were as important as calligraphers in Koranic manuscripts. Throughout the 19th - 14th centuries the gilders decorating the Korans of the Abbasid, Fatimi, Eyyubi, Muvahhid, Mameluke, Seljuk and llhanic periods created colourful gilt arrangements using a variety of motifs.

The large Korans of the Mameluke and Ilhanic periods, with their impressive gilt compositions, made the Koran the most magnificent work of art in the Islamic world. The tradition of gilt designs in Koranic inscription appears to have been established in the eleventh century. The most common tradition of gilt design in the Korans of the 11th -14th centuries was the complete decoration of a designated square or rectangular area on the first page of the text. The gilding of the border around the text of the first two surahs (Al-Fatiha and Al-Bakara) appeared in the fourteenth century.

The Koran of the eleventh century written by Abul Kasım Ali b.Abdullah al-Baghdadi, vizier to the Seljuk sultan Tuğrul Bey, and preserved in the Palace Library today, is an important example of the period's Koranic gilding with its frontispiece, illuminated surah heading, surah titles and marks in the gilt style of the Seljuks. The works of the 13th century master of the naskhi style, Yakut al-Mustasimi, are just as valuable.

It has been discovered that the Korans and Koranic sections written by Yakut al-Mustasimi and the 14th century naskhi masters Abdullah Sayrafi and Argun Kamili were restored and carefully gilded in the time of the Ottoman Sultan Süleyman in the 16th century. The "Al-An'am" surah in thuluth and rayhani script of Argun Kamili of Baghdad, the gilt Koran in rayhani script of Muhammed b.Sayfeddin al-Nakkash are distinguishable for their rich and colourful design.

The 15th section of the Koran written on thick paper in gold muhaqqaq script in Mosul during the era of the Ilhanic ruler Sultan Olcaytu is another important development in Korinic calligraphy. In the fourteenth century the Ilhanic and Mameluke ateliers were the most productive in the Islamic world. The most distinctive examples of Mameluke Korans were prepared in 1256-1399. While bight colored gilt Ilhanic Korans were being produced at the beginning of the fourteenth century, the transition to colourful design in the Egypt of the Mamelukes and in Syria came later towards the middle of the same century.

The Mameluke Korans preserved in the Palace Library are part of this development. In the same way, the Timuri Koran written at the end of the 15th century by Muhammed b. Sultanshah al-Haravi of Heart and the Turkmen Koran written in the fifteenth century at Tabriz are significant for an understanding of how Koranic design developed a rich and colourful set of motifs.

Some valuable Korans in the Palace Library were inscribed under the Safevids in Iran in the 16th century. They are important for their design and gilding as an example of the development of the Safevid Koranic style and the elaborateness of motif. Particularly Koran numbered H.S.25, with its pages of dynamic taliq script, is a magnificent work of the famous calligrapher Shah Mahmud Nishapuri.

Undoubtedly the best examples reflecting the development of gilding and calligraphy in the Ottoman Korans are preserved in the Palace Library. The fundamentals of Ottoman Koranic script were set down in the Korans produced in naskhi by the famous calligrapher Sheikh Hamdullah at the end of the 15th century and the beginning of the 16th century. Koranic gilding developed in those years as well. The Sheikh Korans in the Palace Library are all matchless examples of the gilding style of the period.

The Koran written in naskhi script by Abdullah b. Ilias and gilded by Bayram b. Dervish, the Koran written in a combination of naskhi-thuluth script by Ahmet Karahisari and gilded in the style of the gilder Karamemi are both important works reflecting the stages of Ottoman Koranic writing in the sixteenth century. The large Koran attributed to Ahmed Karahisari is a magnificent manuscript incorporating rich motifs of gilt. This work, a major masterpiece of Ottoman book design, is one of the most valuable manuscripts in the Palace Library.

Some selected Korans produced by the well-known Ottoman calligraphers of later centuries are precious additions to the Library's unique collection. The calligraphers and artists of the nine-tenth and early twentieth centuries experimented with different script styles such as thluth and taliq and preferred to produce decorative wall inscriptions. The Ottoman art of hand-copying Koranic text eventually adopted a rococo style and then exhibited neoclassic gilding patterns. The Library Collections is abundant with examples of these as well.

This magnificent assembly of work was accumulated through the individual collections of the Ottoman Sultans for hundreds of years. The multitude of samples of kufic and maghribi kufic script, the works of the well-known Islamic calligraphers Yakut, Abdullah Sayrafi and Argun Kamili, the exquisite Safevid Korans together form a precious legacy.


WEB SITE : Topkapı Palace Museum Directorate

E-Mail :
Phone : +90 212 512 0480
Fax : +90 212 526 9840

These scripts and photographs are registered under © Copyright 2017, respected writers and photographers from the internet. All Rights Reserved.


Sultanahmet, Fatih - Istanbul - Turkey

GPS : 41°00'46.2"N 28°59'05.7"E / 41.012837, 28.984902

Third Courtyard


GPS : 41°00'46.7"N 28°59'03.8"E / 41.012967, 28.984399


A foundation library bestowed to the benefit of the Enderûn Palace School students was built by Sultan Ahmet III (1703-1730), replacing the former Pool Pavilion. The Arabic poem in six verses inscribed on the main gate of this building, which is the first library established on the Palace premises, situated in the centre of the Enderûn Courtyard. It is explained in the epigraph that Sultan Ahmet III had this dwelling, destined to collect books, built at his own expense as a good deed to serve the lofty ideal of encouraging the learning of science.

The Neo-classical Enderûn Library (Enderûn Kütüphanesi), also known as Library of Sultan Ahmed III (Sultan Ahmed III Kütüphanesi), is situated directly behind the Audience Chamber (Arz Odası) in the centre of the Third Court. It was built on the foundations of the earlier Havuzlu kiosk by the royal architect Mimar Beşir Ağa in 1719 on orders of Sultan Ahmed III for the use of the officials of the royal household. The colonnade of this earlier kiosk now probably stands in front of the present Treasury.

The library is a beautiful example of Ottoman architecture of the 18th century. The exterior of the building is faced with marble. The library has the form of a Greek cross with a domed central hall and three rectangular bays. The fourth arm of the cross consists of the porch that can be approached by a flight of stairs on either side. Beneath the central arch of the portico is an elaborate drinking fountain with niches on each side.

The construction has been extended through iwans on its three sides. The exterior façade is marble coated. It is surrounded by two fountains, one on the building side, and the other on the courtyard side. Sultan Ahmet III Library Fountain is in front of the Sultan Ahmet III Library the third courtyard of Topkapı Palace. It was built by Sultan Ahmet III in 1719.

The domes and vaults are ornamented with vegetal motifs manufactured through the malakâri - decorative plasterwork - technique characteristic of the Tulip Era. Window and door wings are ivory inlaid with classic geometrical patterns. Window and door frames are covered with 17th Century concatenated tiles; ceilings are stone inlaid with geometric figures, such as the Baghdad and Revan Pavilions. Silver wire caged built-in book cabinets are located between the windows.

The building is set on a low basement to protect the precious books of the library against moisture. The walls above the windows are decorated with 16th - 17th century İznik tiles of variegated design. The central dome and the vaults of the rectangular bays have been painted. The decoration inside the dome and vaults are typical of the so-called Tulip Era. The books were stored in cupboards in the walls. The niche opposite the entrance was the private reading corner of the sultan.

The library contained books on theology, Islamic law and similar works of scholarship in Ottoman Turkish, Arabic and Persian. In those days the library contained more than 3,500 manuscripts. Some are fine examples of inlay work with nacre and ivory. Today these books are kept in the Mosque of the Ağas (Ağalar Camii), which is located next to the library in the western direction. One of the important items is the so-called Topkapı manuscript, a copy of the Holy Koran from the time of the third Caliph Uthman Ibn Affan.

The library’s book collection consisting of books originating from the private treasure of Sultan Ahmet III, and the books endowed by Sultan Abdülhamit I and Sultan Selim III was conserved here, date after which it was integrated into the collection of the Palace Library.

In 1928 the books of the Enderûn Library amongst other works were moved here as the Palace Library (Sarayı Kütüphanesi), housing a collection of about 13,500 Turkish, Arabic, Persian and Greek books and manuscripts, collected by the Ottomans. Located next to the mosque to the northeast is the Imperial Portraits Collection.


Enderûn (meaning "inner most") was the “selâmlık” portion reserved for men, of the private compartment of the palace. It was also called the “Harem-i Hümâyûn” together with the Harem where the Sultan lived with his family. Beyond the Gate of Felicity is the Third Courtyard (III. Avlu), also called the Inner Palace (Enderûn Avlusu), which is the heart of the palace, where the sultan spent his days outside the harem.

The Enderûn Courtyard which took form during the reign of Fatih Sultan Mehmet - the Conqueror - (1451-1481), consists of the patio where the Sultan’s pavilions are located, the marble terrace called Sofa-i Hümayun (Imperial Hall) harbouring the Sultan’s mansions and the flower garden. That courtyard contains as well the dwellings of the Enderûn School, destined to the education of the youngsters recruited via Devşirme - a system of recruitment of youngsters of foreign background for serving the Ottoman Empire.

It is a lush garden surrounded by the Hall of the Privy Chamber (Has Oda) occupied by the palace officials, the treasury (which contains some of the most important treasures of the Ottoman age, including the Ottoman miniatures, the Sacred Trusts), the Harem and some pavilions, with the library of Sultan Ahmed III in the center. Entry to the Third Courtyard was strictly regulated and off-limits to outsiders.

The third Courtyard (Enderun) formed by the dormitories and the structures belongs to the Sultan. Hall of Audience where Sultan accepts viziers and ambassadors, Enderun Library which was constructed by the Sultan Ahmed III, Treasury of Enderun also known as Conqueror’s Pavilion, Privy Room (Chamber of Sultan) and the Aghas’ Mosque which was constructed for the Enderun aghas at the reign of Fatih are the important structures of this courtyard. Courtyard is surrounded by the Big and Small Room Wards, Expeditionary Force Ward, Pantries’ Ward, Treasure Ward and the Privy Room Ward which added to the Privy Room at the 19th century.

The Third Courtyard is surrounded by the quarters of the Ağas (pages), boys in the service of the sultan. They were taught the arts, such as music, painting and calligraphy. The best could become Has Odalı Ağa (Keepers of the Holy Relics of Muhammad and personal servants of the Sultan), or even become officers or high-ranking officials.

Enderûn was the term used in the Ottoman Empire to designate the "Interior Service" of the Imperial Court, concerned with the private service of the Ottoman Sultans, as opposed to the state-administrative "Exterior Service" (Birûn). Its name derives from the location of the Sultan's apartments in the inner courts of the Topkapı Palace; its head was the Kapı Ağası.

The Inner Service was divided into four departments. In descending order of importance, these were the Privy Chamber (Hass Oda), the Treasury (Hazine), the Privy Larder (Has Kiler), and the Great and Little Chambers. Among the responsibilities of the Inner Service was also the running of the palace school, where selected young Christian boys, gathered through the devşirme system (from the 17th century, however, Muslim boys were also admitted) were trained for the highest state offices. These boys served then as pages in the Inner Service, and were known as içoğlanı ("lads of the interior").

The Inner Service was also notable for its employment of deaf-mutes (dilsiz), at least from the time of Sulta Mehmed II, to the end of the empire. They acted as guards and attendants, and due to their particular nature were often entrusted with highly confidential assignments, including executions. Their number varied but they were never numerous; they had their own uniforms, their own heads (başdilsiz), and although many were literate, they also communicated in their own special sign language.

The Enderûn Institution, inspired from the state organization schemes of the Great Seljuk Empire and Seljuk Sultanate of Rum, functioned for centuries as the principal Ottoman establishment devoted to the education and training of the future members of the high-level state and military bureaucracy, where also the artistic skills of students in various fields were developed.

In the framework of the above-mentioned Devşirme system which existed from the first half of the 15th Century up until the end of the 17th Century, the Ottoman Sultans created a class of civil servants loyal to them, educated within the principles of the Islamic religion and Turkish culture. A group of the thus recruited pages were educated at the Palace as such and others were trained in the army.

They were eventually assigned to high ranking positions in the state apparatus following their schooling. From the 18th Century onwards, these high posts were occupied by native Turks.

During the initial phase, the youngsters were confided as pupils to a Turkish family where they learned Turkish and were brought up within the traditions and customs of Turkish society. Following that phase, they were sent to preparatory schools. The most gifted among them were then admitted into the classes of the Enderûn School.

There, the interns were studying in successive wards beginning from the Big Room and Small Room, continuing respectively through the Dormitory of the Expeditionary Force (Seferli Koğuşu), the Pantry, Treasury and Privy Chamber wards. The students who were fulfilling symbolic tasks relevant to the function of each particular ward, had then the possibility to climb the ladder of public offices all the way up to the post of Grand Vizier (Greatest Minister holder of the Sultan’s imperial seal).

The Enderûn Courtyard is so structured as to highlight the Sultan’s buildings, like in other venues of the Palace. Dwellings used by the Sultan such as the Conqueror’s Pavilion, also called the Conqueror's Kiosk (Fatih Köşkü), the Privy Chamber, and the Pool Pavilion were situated in the centre and inner corners of the courtyard whereas the wards used by the students of the Enderûn School were located at its outer edges.

These wards opening up to the courtyard through their porches had an interior layout consisting of a small hall surrounded by the dormitories, the glass room and the baths. The Enderûn wards were lined up in a hierarchical order arranged according to the level of training classes. The Big and Small Room wards located on each side of the Gate of Felicity (Bâb-üs Saade) and the Ward of the Expeditionary Force (Seferli Koğuşu) established in the 17th Century after demolishing the Sultan Selim II Bath would constitute the lower rungs of the School of Enderûn.

While others are the Pantry, the Treasury and the Privy Chamber wards. The Privy Chamber Ward is known to be intertwined with the actual Privy Chamber. Also in this direction, there is the Mosque of the Ağas (Ağalar Camii). In the middle of the Enderûn courtyard was the Pool Pavilion which was demolished in the 18th Century and replaced by the Enderûn Library (Sultan Ahmet III Library).

The establishment of a new army in 1826 after the abolition of the Janissary Corps was also the occasion for the creation of a new education system. After this date, the Enderûn School and Institution began to lose of its importance.


The Enderun School was a palace school and boarding school mostly for the Christian millet of the Ottoman Empire, which primarily recruited students via devşirme, a system of the Islamization of Christian children for serving the Ottoman government in bureaucratic, managerial, and Janissary military positions. The Enderun School was fairly successful in creating the multicultural bureaucracy, which was reflected in the multicultural nature of Ottoman statesmen over the centuries.

The Enderun School functioned for academic and military purposes as well. Ideally the graduates were permanently devoted to government service and had no interest in forming relations with lower social groups. It was run by the "Inner Service" (Enderûn) of the Ottoman palace. The Enderun School's gifted education program has been called the world's first institutionalized education for the gifted.

The growth of Ottoman Empire is attributed and was dependent on the selection and education of statesmen. A vital component of Sultan Mehmet II's goal to revive the Roman Empire was to establish a special school to select the best youngsters within the Empire and to mold them for government. Sultan Mehmet II improved the existing palace school founded by his father, Sultan Murat II and established the Enderun Academy (Enderun) in Istanbul.

The third courtyard of the Topkapı Palace was surrounded by the Imperial Treasury, the Pavilion of the Holy Mantle, and the buildings of the Palace School, which educated the top tier of students from Enderun as well as princes of the House of Sultan Osman. There were seven halls or grades within the Palace School, and within each hall there were 12 teachers responsible for the students' mental and academic development. Students wore special uniforms designated by their achievement level and additional buildings included the library, mosque, music conservatories, dormitories, and baths.

The Enderun system consisted of three preparatory schools located outside of the palace in addition to the one within the palace walls itself. There were 1,000-2,000 students in three Enderun Colleges, and about 300 students in the top school in the Palace. The curriculum was divided into five main divisions :

Islamic sciences; including Arabic, Turkish and Persian language education
Positive sciences; mathematics, geography
History, law, and administration: the customs of the Palace and government issues
Vocational studies, including art and music education
Physical training, including weaponry

At the end of the Enderun school system, the graduates would be able to speak, read, and write at least three languages, able to understand the latest developments in science, have at least a craft or art, and excel in army command as well as in close combat skills.

The graduation ceremony for students leaving the Enderun School was known as çıkma. The graduates themselves were referred as çıkma. The name çıkma literary means "leaving" or "pulling out". The pages were leaving Palace School and palace service to continue their training in the functional service. This "transferral" occurred every two to seven years, or after the accession of new sultan to the throne.

The successful graduates were assigned according to their abilities into two mainstream positions: governmental or science, and those who failed to advance were assigned to military. One of the most distinctive properties of the school was its merit system consisting of carefully graded rewards and corresponding punishments.


GPS : 41°00'47.8"N 28°59'06.7"E / 41.013278, 28.985194

Under the responsibility of the head of kitchen called Kilercibaşı (Chief Cook), Kilerli Koğuşu used to concern on cooking the sultans meals, preparing the sultans table and taking dinner service . After 1856 Enderûn fire in 1856, it was reconstructed as Hazine Kethüdalığı. Since 1960 it has been using as Topkapı Sarayı Müzesi Müdüriyeti.


WEB SITE : Topkapı Palace Museum Directorate

E-Mail :
Phone : +90 212 512 0480
Fax : +90 212 526 9840

These scripts and photographs are registered under © Copyright 2017, respected writers and photographers from the internet. All Rights Reserved.


Sultanahmet, Fatih - Istanbul - Turkey

GPS : 41°00'45.2"N 28°59'03.3"E / 41.012546, 28.984238

Third Courtyard


The Gate of Felicity (Bâbüssaâde or Bab-üs Saadet) is the entrance into the Inner Court (Enderûn), also known as the Third Courtyard, marking the border to the Outer Court or Birun. The Third Courtyard comprises the private and residential areas of the palace. The gate has a dome supported by lean marble pillars. It represents the presence of the Sultan in the palace. No one could pass this gate without the authority of the Sultan. Even the Grand Vizier was only granted authorisation on specified days and under specified conditions.

The gate was probably constructed under Sultan Mehmed II in the 15th century. It was redecorated in the rococo style in 1774 under Sultan Mustafa III and during the reign of Sultan Mahmud II. The gate is further decorated with Qur'anic verses above the entrance and tuğras. The ceiling is partly painted and gold-leafed, with a golden ball hanging from the middle. The sides with baroque decorative elements and miniature paintings of landscapes.

The Sultan used this gate and the Divan Meydanı square only for special ceremonies. The Sultan sat before the gate on his Bayram throne on religious, festive days and accession, when the subjects and officials perform their homage standing. The funerals of the Sultan were also conducted in front of the gate. On either side of this colonnaded passage, under control of the Chief Eunuch of the Sultan’s Harem (called the Bâbüssaâde Ağası) and the staff under him, were the quarters of the eunuchs as well as the small and large rooms of the palace school.

The small, indented stone on the ground in front of the gate marks the place where the banner of Muhammad was unfurled. The Grand Vizier or the commander going to war was entrusted with this banner in a solemn ceremony.

Bâbüssaâde ağası

The Kapı Agha (Turkish: Kapı ağası, "Agha of the Gate"), formally called the Agha of the Gate of Felicity (Bâbüssaâde ağası), was the head of the eunuch servants of the Ottoman Seraglio until the late 16th century, when this post was taken over by the Kızlar Agha. In juxtaposition with the latter office, also known as the Chief Black Eunuch as its holders were drawn from Black African slaves, the Kapı Agha is also known as the Chief White Eunuch.

As his title implies, the Kapı Agha was in charge of the Gate of Felicity that separated the Outer Court (Birûn), where state affairs were conducted, from the Inner Court (Enderûn) and the Sultan's private apartments in the Topkapi Palace. The Agha occupied an office to the right of the gate and was responsible for controlling entrance to the Inner Court and for transmitting the Sultan's orders to his officials, rendering him, in the words of the Ottomanist Halil İnalcık "the sole mediator between the Sultan and the world outside the Palace".

Among the duties of the Kapı Agha and his white eunuchs was also the running of the Palace School for the pages of the palace, whose graduates then went on to provide the administrative elite of the Empire. The "Mosque of the Aghas" (Ağalar Camii) in the Topkapi Palace was built for use by the Kapı Agha and his eunuchs. The Kapı Agha consequently was an influential post, a close adviser to the Sultan and able to play a decisive role in the imperial succession. Its holders bore the rank of vizier and came in precedence only after the Grand Vizier and the Shaykh al-Islam.

At his heyday in the 15th and 16th centuries, the Kapı Agha rivalled the Grand Vizier for importance. Nevertheless, and in contrast to his analogues in other Islamic states, usually denoted by variants of the title hajib, the holders of the office never expanded their power to the extent that they could rival the Sultan's own.

Unlike their counterparts, the Kapı Ağası controlled neither the administrative apparatus, which remained firmly in the hands of the Grand Vizier, nor the palace troops, which were commanded by another official, the Agha of the Janissaries, who notably also received about five times the Kapı Ağası's daily salary of 100 akçes. Nevertheless, many Kapı Ağası went on to assume major provincial governorships (often distinguished by the epithet hadım, "eunuch", in their subsequent careers), and several are considered as among the greatest Ottoman statesmen of the period.

The post reached its height in the reign of Sultan Süleyman the Magnificent (1520–1566), when its holders became the steward of the charitable foundations and endowments (vakifs) designated for the upkeep of the two holy cities (Haramayn) of Islam, Mecca and Medina, and of over seventy large mosques. During this time, the holders of the office engaged in open rivalry with the Grand Viziers for control over state affairs.

Soon after, however, through the influence of the women of the Imperial Harem, the Kapı Ağası was eclipsed by the Kizlar Agha, who supervised the Harem. The Kizlar Agha became independent of the Kapı Ağası in 1587, assumed the control of the Haramayn and quickly rose to become the senior palace official. The final blow to the authority of the office came in 1704, when its remaining powers were transferred to the Silahdar Agha. The position of the Kapi Agha survived, but thereafter was devoid of any significance.



Beyond the Gate of Felicity is the Third Courtyard (III. Avlu), also called the Inner Palace (Enderun Avlusu), which is the heart of the palace, where the sultan spent his days outside the harem. It is a lush garden surrounded by the Hall of the Privy Chamber (Has Oda) occupied by the palace officials, the treasury (which contains some of the most important treasures of the Ottoman age, including the Ottoman miniatures, the Sacred Trusts), the Harem and some pavilions, with the library of Sultan Ahmed III in the center. Entry to the Third Courtyard was strictly regulated and off-limits to outsiders.

The Third Courtyard is surrounded by the quarters of the Ağas (pages), boys in the service of the sultan. They were taught the arts, such as music, painting and calligraphy. The best could become Has Odalı Ağa (Keepers of the Holy Relics of Muhammad and personal servants of the Sultan), or even become officers or high-ranking officials.

The layout of the Third Courtyard was established by Sultan Mehmed II. Its size is roughly comparable to the Second Courtyard. The rigid layout did not allow for any great changes. While Sultan Mehmed II would not sleep in the harem, successive sultans after him became more secluded and moved to the more intimate Fourth Courtyard and the harem section. The Hünername miniature from 1584 shows the Third Courtyard and the surrounding outer gardens as it must have appeared following its completion under Sultan Mehmed II. It also shows at the bottom the sultan in what looks like a shore pavilion either holding audience or being entertained by courtiers.


WEB SITE : Topkapı Palace Museum Directorate

E-Mail :
Phone : +90 212 512 0480
Fax : +90 212 526 9840

These scripts and photographs are registered under © Copyright 2017, respected writers and photographers from the internet. All Rights Reserved.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017


Sultanahmet - Istanbul - Turkey

GPS : 41°00'45.1"N 28°59'01.1"E / 41.012516, 28.983635

Second Courtyard


Next to the Chamber of Sacred Relics, there is the exhibition of Clock Section (Silahtar Treasury) Clock Collection. The permanent exhibition in the palace’s Inkwell Chamber with 380 mechanical clock collection on display at Second Courtyard..

Among the collection are Turkish clocks made by Turkish clock masters along with clocks collected from Germany, Russia and France during the Ottoman Empire’s 400-year span. Among them are magnificent clocks made by Breguet, the genius clockmaker for Ottoman sultans. One hundred clocks in the collection have been repaired by modern-day clock masters, who will also work to restore and maintain the remaining clocks in the collection. The collection is divided into three parts: Ottoman clocks, European clocks and pocket watches.

Watches and clocks used by Turkish Sultans in one part of the palace or another from the 16th through the 19th-century, including pocket watches, wall and table clocks, are at present exhibited in the Silahtar Treasury. Some of these watches were purchased privately by the Sultans, while others were royal gifts to Turkey’s monarchs, or were acquired through other channels.

The Clocks are shown in what was originally the Old Silahtar Treasury. There are some 350 clocks in the collection, acquired by the palace as diplomatic gifts or by purchase. Nearly 200 clocks are on display, and include those of Turkish, German, Austrian, English, French, Swiss and Russian origin.

Turkish Clocks

The earliest Turkish clocks are dated to the 17th century and are fine examples of the craftsmanship of the period. Although we know that clocks were made in and around the Ottoman capital during the 15th and 16th centuries, these four clocks, the work of craftsmen named Bulugat, Sahin, Abdurrahman and Mustafa Aksarayi are the earliest surviving examples we have in the collection. The silver, horizontal movement table clock of Mustafa Aksarayi and Şahin Usta's clock cases are among the finest artefacts of the period.

The late 17th century Şeyh Dede pocket watch elliptical fob (sash) watch calender is one of the finest of its type, 18th century Turkish clocks were influenced by English time-pieces in form, as we see in the work of the master craftsmen Zihni, Edirneli Ibrahim and Osman. The collection also possesses the only signed Zemberekcioglu clock from that century.

Ahmet Eflaki Dede was sent to Paris by the court in the 19th century to learn new skills in clockmaking. We have only one of his clocks in the collection, but there are a number of time-pieces made by his student followers Mehmed Şükrü, Hüseyin Hakki and Süleyman Leziz, who were among the leading craftsmen of their time.

Skeleton clocks are in the majority among the Turkish 19th century time- pieces, while Ismet Usta, who worked at the court of Sultan Abdulhamid I, produced pedestal clocks of the English type. The jointly-made walnut consol (bracket) clock dating to the reign of Sultan Abdulhamid II is a fine example of the woodwork and inlay of the period.

German Watches and Clocks

The oldest German time-piece in the collection is a pendant watch dating to the 16th century. The collection also boasts a Renaissance wall clock, roughly contemporary, which was made in one of the southern European cities. The musical organ chime bracket clock in the imperial hall is an 18th century time-piece made mid-century by Kintzing at Neuwied. Two other time-pieces of German origin are a wall clock and regulator and a pocket watch presented to sultan Sultan Abdulhamid II by the Emperor Wilhelm II. The latest piece in the collection is a Black Forest wall clock.

Austrian clocks

The collection contains a number of clocks dating from the 18th century onwards, although it is known that the Emperor Rudolph II sent an automatic movement time-piece to the palace during the reign of Sultan Murad III. The earliest existing piece, however, dates from about 1720, a table clock with gold encrusted case made by Joseph Dershinger. 19th century pieces include a miniature table clock encased in encrusted silver, made in Vienna, and a carriage clock inscribed Andreas Hochenadel, also from Vienna. Two other interesting pieces are a musical table clock and a laterna chime Kurz waIl clock, also from Austria.

English Clocks and Watches

English time-pieces constitute the largest part of the collection. The earliest dates from the 17th century, although we know that English clocks reached the court during the 16th century, the first being sent by Queen Elizabeth I in 1583. The earliest piece to survive is a tulip-shaped fob watch signed Bird. Pendulum clocks signed J.Forrest and W. Jourdain also date from the 17th century.

During the 18th century, some English clock-makers produced musical watches and clocks with tortoise shell cases and Ottoman Turkish (Arabic) numerals, among them are Markwich- Markham, Perigal, Borrell, Storey and Recordon. The collection contains pocket and fob (sash) watches, carriage, table and long case clocks bearing their signature.

One of the most notable is a colossal long case organ musical and chiming clock in an inlayed case (inlayed with mother-of- pearl). Two Markwich-Markham Borrel musical pedestal clocks (a pair) are among the most striking pieces in the collection, their cases inlayed with silver and encrusted with precious stones. Among the 19th century clocks in the collection are some made by the sons of those master craftsmen.

French Watches and Clocks

French time-pieces were imported to the Ottoman court from the time of Süleyman I onwards, although the earliest piece in the collection dates from the 17th century and is a fob watch signed De Baufre, made in Paris and dated 1675. Pocket and fob watches by Jullian Le Roy, dated to the 18th century with enamel inlay and encrusted cases are particularly interesting. Neuchatel organ musical and chiming pedestal clocks made for the Ottoman court after the 18th century are also of interest.

A whole case is devoted to the display of Breguet pocket watches, made in Geneva, the cases of which are encrusted and enamelled and bear painted views of the Bosphorus. The collection also boasts one of the seven pendule sympathique clocks made by Breguet for the palaces of Europe. This particular clock was presented to Sultan Mahmud II by Napoleon, and is encased in an encrusted case bearing scenes of the Bosphorus and the Golden Horn. Also in the collection is a group of neo-gothic table clocks.

Russian clocks
The most notable of the Russian clocks in the collection is the griffon shaped table clock signed Faberge, a present from the Czar Nicholas II to Sultan Abdülhamid II in 1901.

Swiss Clocks and Watches
These date from the 19th century onwards, when Swiss time-pieces began to supercede English clocks and watches. The collection baoasts pocket watches made for the palace, at Chaux de -Fonds by the Courvoisier Freres and Courvoisier et- Cie. Among them are two bearing the portraits of Sultan Abdülaziz I and Sultan Abdülmecid on the cases.

There are also a number of enamelled watches from Geneva and a pair of musical cage clocks made by Pierre I. Droz and son (H.L.Droz) at La Chaux de Fonds. Two curious time-pieces in the form of a pistol and spectacles made by the Rochat brothers at Geneva are also to be found in the collection.


WEB SITE : Topkapı Palace Museum Directorate

E-Mail :
Phone : +90 212 512 0480
Fax : +90 212 526 9840

These scripts and photographs are registered under © Copyright 2017, respected writers and photographers from the internet. All Rights Reserved.


Sultanahmet, Fatih - Istanbul - Turkey

GPS : 41°00'42.2"N 28°59'04.0"E / 41.011722, 28.984432

Second Courtyard


Apart from exhibiting kitchen utensils, today the buildings contain a silver gifts and utensils collection, as well as large collections of Chinese blue-and-white, white, and celadon porcelain. Today, Topkapı kitchens house a rich collection of Chinese and Japanese porcelain, said to be the 3rd richest collection of porcelain in the world after those at Peking and Dresden, with 10.700 rare and valuable pieces.

Chinese and Far East porcelain was highly valued and was transported by camel caravans over the Silk Road or by sea. The 10,700 pieces of Chinese, Japanese and Turkish porcelain displayed here are rare and precious. The Chinese porcelain collection ranges from the late Song Dynasty (13th c.) and the Yuan Dynasty (1280-1368), through the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) to the Qing Dynasty (1644-1912). This museum also contains one of the world's largest collections of 14th-century Longquan celadon.

Among the most invaluable collections in the Topkapı Palace Museum is its Chinese porcelain collection, which is displayed in the palace's Imperial Kitchens (Matbah-ı Amire) together with the Japanese porcelain collection. This unique collection, which consists of more than 10,000 pieces, is the largest porcelain collection outside of China, and is particularly important in that it showcases the uninterrupted historical development of porcelain from the 13th century to the early 20th century.

Chinese and Far Eastern porcelain was highly valued and was transported by camel caravans over the Silk Road or by sea. The 10,700 pieces of Chinese porcelain displayed here are rare, precious, and thought to rival that found in China as one of the finest collections in the world. The Chinese porcelain collection ranges from the late Song Dynasty (960-1279) and the Yuan Dynasty (1280–1368), through the Ming Dynasty (1368–1644) to the Qing Dynasty (1644–1911).

This museum also contains one of the world's largest collections of 14th-century Longquan celadon. The collection has around 3,000 pieces of Yuan and Ming Dynasty celadons. Those celadon were valued by the Sultan and the Queen Mother because it was supposed to change colour if the food or drink it carried was poisoned. The Japanese collection is mainly Imari porcelain, dating from the 17th to the 19th centuries. Further parts of the collection include white porcelain from the beginning of the 15th century and "imitation" Blue-and-White and Imari porcelain from Vietnam, Thailand and Persia.

These places’ present day use is like that; upon entering the Kiler-i Amire Kapısı, Vekilharç Dairesi which is at the right hand side; being restored; serves as Museum Workshops. Photography Workshop and Textiles Conservation Workshop is also situated in this building. After restorations, Kiler and Yağhane binası functions as Müze Saray Arşivi. Aşçılar Mescidi with its two floors, beside the oil house structure, is still conserved.


The palace collection contains a total of 10,700 pieces, ranging from the late Sung (13th century) and the Yuan Dynasties (1280-1368), through the Ming (1368-1644) to the Ch'ing period (1644- 1912). A number of these are currently on display in the palace kitchens. It is known that Chinese porcelain was exported to the Middle East as early as the 9th and 10th centuries, where it was widely known and used. It retained its place as ware of considerable value throughout the Orient in subsequent eras, being particularly favored in the Ottoman Court.

The collection has around 3,000 pieces of Yuan and Ming Dynasty celadons. Those celadon were valued by the Sultan and the Queen Mother because it was supposed to change colour if the food or drink it carried was poisoned. The Japanese collection is mainly Imari porcelain, dating from the 17th to the 19th century. Further parts of the collection include white porcelain from the beginning of the 15th century and "imitation" Blue-and-White and Imari porcelain from Annam, Thailand and Persia.

Generally, Chinese porcelain reached the palace either as gifts and trophies, or some of it was purchased. A certain amount of ware was acquired by the reversion of the estates of deceased statesmen and members of the court, or of those who had fallen from favor. Most of it was kept in the palace kitchens, although some pieces were allocated to the treasury.

Much of it was used regularly at the sultan's table, whereas a Porcelain Warehouse or Çinihane was built in the kitchens by the architect Sinan especially for Chinese wares. Nevertheless, many pieces were damaged during a fire that broke out in the kitchens in 1574, during the reign of Murat III, and were later replaced by new wares.

The best known of the early Chinese ware are the celadons, famous for their grayish, bluish or brownish-green glaze consisting mainly of feldspar. some silica and a small amount of iron (1-3 per cent) . First called 'Celadon' during the 17th century after the green costume of the shepherd Celadon in the French pastoral of Honore d'Urfe -'l'Astree', performed in Paris in 1610, quantities of this ware dating to the 13th, 14th and 15th centuries can be found in the palace collection.

The palace ware has the characteristic grayish -white paste of Lung-ch'uan Celadon, from the province of Chekiang, which turns to a warm, burnt red upon firing, a feature most noticeable at the base of vessels where the glaze trails off, which is due to the oxidation of ferrous material either during or after firing. Celadon was known by the Ottomans and other Near East countries as Mertebani.

This was used to describe large heavy jars with dark-brown glaze dating from the Tang to the Ming period, of which there are three examples in the Topkapi Palace dating from the 16th century. The term Mertebani actually derives from the port of Martaban in Burma where the ceramics of China and Siam were dispatched to India, Africa and the Middle East.

The majority of the palace collection consists of blue and whites dating from the 14th to 19th centuries. Painting with blue cobalt underglaze was first employed in Iran towards the end of the 12th century, and later both the cobalt and the underglaze painting technique used to apply it were taken to China by merchants, where it served the needs of Chinese porcelain craftsmen until the discovery of cobalt in China about a century later.

Of the early blue and whites in the palace, the best-known examples are large plates with unglazed bases, some with fluted (cavetto) rims and decorated around the rim with waves, or floral and lozenge motifs and a floral motif in the center. Fish, ducks or similar fauna and mythical creatures such as the phoenix, ch'i-i-Lin and dragon also shared the central part of pattern.

Another popular type of ware was the vases of the Mei p'ing type dating from the Sung period to the 18th century. Kuan ware, in the form of massive pots, waisted, lob-necked vases and flasks dating to the 14th and 15th centuries are among the typical products of Chinese kilns of the period to be found in the palace. The most important 15th century piece, one that is widely known, is the sc called Annam vase, which bears the date 1450. Made in Vietnam, the vase bears to name given to Vietnam during the T'ang period, when it was a Chines protectorate.

There are few examples of Yuan ware in the collection, and the majority of Ming ware is blue and white, there being number of blue and whites but also polychrome ware dating from the reign of the Ming emperor Chia-ching (1522 1566) , most of which bears hi monogram. As may be seen, the Chin blue and whites are notable for their brilliant blue.

Although there is very little ware from the Wan-li period (1573-1619) bearing the monogram of that emperor, a ware which was particularly popular in the west, the collection possesses a number of large plates and other vessels of the 'Kraak' group. This group was exported in large numbers to the West, especially to Holland, from the beginning of the 17th century onwards.

Kraak ware, was the first Chinese ware to reach Europe in any great quantity and was extremely influential on European, particularly Dutch ceramics. The name came from a Dutch term for a form of Portuguese ship, one of which, bearing a load of Chinese ware was captured by the Dutch in the Straits of Malacca and taken to Amsterdam in 1603. The majority of the Mings in the palace collection are from the Ching-te Chen. kilns in the province of Kiangsi.

There are some from the kilns of Fukien, mainly inferior patterned blue and white plates and lugged pots - four round lugs on the shoulder, brown glazed ware decorated with white slip brushwork, ware of Celadon tones and white ware. Named "Swatov ware" by Chinese merchants after a port in southeast China opened to foreign trade after 1860, when it became an important trade center, this ware was made for export and tended to follow market trends. Hence the pieces inscribed in Arabic with verses from the Koran in the palace collection.

The earliest examples of Ming white ware in the collection date from the beginning of the 15th century. These are either plain white glazed porcelain or slightly incised under the glaze to form a pattern. Another group of monochrome ware of the Ming period also represented here is the mainly plain yellow glazed porcelain, a certain number unmarked, but some of which bear the marks of Hung- chih (1488-1505) and Cheng-te (1506- 1521).

Polychrome ware with blue underglaze and red, yellow, green and turquoise overglaze brushwork dates from the beginning of the 16th century to the 17th century. It was a practice in Istanbul to encrust Chinese porcelain after the second half of the 16th and 17th centuries with precious stones mounted in stylized metal floriate forms such as the rose, tulip, carnation, pomegranate and plum blossom.

A group of transition ware mad (export in the first half of the 17th century is worth mentioning. Dating from period between the death of Ming Emperor Wan-li in 1619 and the reopening of imperial porcelain factories by the se ( emperor of the Ch'ing dynasty- K'ang'hsi (1662-1722) , this was a semi-opaque white glazed ware with motifs of a pictorial nature-views, figures flowers-wrought in the purplish-blue underglaze pigment known as 'violet milk' characteristic of this ware. Gene in the form of vases, this ware has distinction of being the first Chinese porcelain to bear a tulip motif.

Alongside blue and whites, o K'ang-hsi ware, namely 'famille vert', produced at a time when the Ch'ing Dynasty had established stability UI the second Emperor K'ang-his (1662 1722) after a period of unrest, and v the imperial porcelain factories had been re-opened in 1683 after a period of idleness. Famille vert, combining underglaze and overglaze enamel tones, and named after the propensity for green as predominant palette color, is represented in the collection.

Chinese "Imari" ware of the s period is not to be overlooked. Influenced by the polychrome Japanese Imari porcelain named after the Japanese near Arita from which the porcelain of that region was exported, the Chinese derivatives are characteristically painted in underglaze blue, overglaze red and gilt.

Later blue and whites produced during the reigns of K'ang-hsi's subsequent successors Yung-cheng (1123-1735), and noticeably under the influence of K'ang-hsi and early Ming blue and whites are also represented in the collection, as are porcelain of the 'famille rose', a group of ware in which the palette of enamels was expanded to include rose pink, and which appeared, noticeably influenced by European ware, in the mid - 18th century.

The numerous pieces of porcelain in the collection were used during the Ottoman period to create composite ware, which was embellished with metalwork or encrusted with precious stones in accord with Ottoman taste, or even transformed into vessels of an entirely different sort with the addition of metal parts. The gold, silver and gilded copper or tombak lids attached to Chinese vases are typical of Ottoman metalwork of various periods.

Celadon Series (10th - 14th centuries)
This contains the oldest and the most valuable porcelain pieces of the whole collection. Because of the name of the export harbour, Martaban in Burma, these precious pieces were called Mertabani by the Ottomans. Celadon is mainly made of jade powder and kaolin. It was said that if items made of celadon were exposed to poisoned foods, the colour would change and the glaze siplinter. Although these celadon pieces were used frequently by the Sultans because of their particular features, they have not lost their glaze and quality. They date from the period of the Ming, Yuan and Sung dynasties.

Blue-White Series (14th - 19th centuries)
These form the largest part of the collection and mostly date from the Ming dynasty. They have a background of white, on which is decorated in cobalt blue, landscapes, dragons, animal and flower motifs, and they often carry the monogram of the royal family. Interesting examples are the pieces ordered for the Sultans on which can be seen Koran verses and Arabic lettering. Silver, gold and "tombak (a zinc and copper mixture)" additions to the porcelain, such as handles, lids, and other decorations, were  done by palace craftsmen and dictated by the taste of the sultan.

Colourful Series (16th - 18th centuries)
Most of the pieces in this series are from the Later Ming dynasty period. Their main patterns use stylized flower motifs with red, yellow, blue and turquoise colurs. Some of these porcelain pieces, specifically from the 16th - 17th centuries, have in their hollows, inlays of wire and stone.

JAPANESE PORCELAIN (17th - 19th centuries)

With almost 730 pieces of Japanese porcelain dating from the 17 - 19th centuries. This section forms a very small portion of the porcelain collection of the palace. In general the porcelain in this group is very colourful and was manufactured as an export product in accordance with European taste. These are mainly Imari ware produced in and around Arita in southern Japan, a polychrome ware made solely for export and to western taste.

It was made in southern Japan at Arita, and called "Imari" after the name of the export harbour. Although there are also some Japanese blue and whites, also from Arita, which bear the influence of the so-called 'Kraak' ware of the Wan-li period.


Artifacts from the Palace collection include pieces of mainly local (Istanbul) porcelain of the Ottoman period, and 19th century glassware. They are exhibited in what was once the Confectioners' Kitchen and Mosque, which was combined into one large hall between 1940-45. The glass and porcelain collection consists of nearly two thousand pieces acquired through various means, the porcelain mainly from Yıldız Palace. There is also some curious meerschaum ware in the collection.

The Istanbul Glass and Porcelain Ware collection is made up of approximately 2,000 pieces, with a large part of the collection being exhibited in the palace kitchens and in the Sherbet Chamber (Şerbethane) and the Confectionery House (Helvahane), which are connected to one another.

The porcelain is from two late Ottoman factories, both in Istanbul, the so-called Eser-i Istanbul ware being produced at Beykoz, and Ay-Yıldız ware at the imperial factory at Yıldız. The Beykoz factory was founded by the Nazir of Tophane, Ahmet Fethi Pasha near the village of Beykoz on the Bosphorus in 1845, during the reign of Abdulmecit. Ware produced here bears the mark 'Eser-i Istanbul' either stamped on or inscribed in blue, red and gold. They were similar in quality to European porcelain of the period, whereas one couldn't tell them apart if it wasn't for the trademark stamp.

The Eser-i Istanbul wares are undated and unsigned. Although anonymous, there are some extremely fine pieces of both porcelain and ceramics in the collection. These are mainly lidded bowls, vases, sweet broth or asure jugs, and plates. Much of this ware is decorated with multi-colored floral bouquets although some unembellished white wickerwork ware also exists. The collection also includes some ceramic tiles bearing the stamp of the factory.

Ay-Yıldız ware, also a luxury ware, was the product of the Imperial Factory or Fabrika-i Hümayun built by Abdulhamit II on the grounds of Yildiz Palace. Some ware was distributed as gifts but most of it remained in the Palace. Ware produced here was dated and stamped with a star and crescent. Much of it bears the names of the craftsmen and artists who worked on it. The factory remained open until the deposition of Abdulhamit II in 1909, when it was attached to the Imperial Museum, whereas work continued there until it closed just prior to World War I.

Almost the entire collection of "Ay-Yıldız" ware in Topkapi belonged to the Yıldız Palace, only a very few other pieces were acquired through purchase or bequest. Much of the collection consists of vases, plates, wall plaques and tea and coffee sets. Various groups of ware can be identified by their composition. Some bear the monogram of Abdulhamit II and the imperial coat of arms, and in certain cases the monogram is inscribed in both Arabic and Latin characters.

Plates bearing the portraits of the Ottoman sultans and tea and coffee cups bearing a series of imperial portraits of all the sultans since Osman I, and 32 in all, are among the most important pieces in the collection. Among the illustrated ware, one group bearing views of Istanbul, mosques, fountains and palaces-mainly on plates, plaques and vases-is of particular interest. A number of others are decorated with floral bouquets and fauna.

The production of glass in Istanbul began with the Mevlevi dervish Mehmet Dede, who was sent to Italy by Sultan Selim III (r. 1789–1807) to learn glassmaking techniques; having studied these techniques in Venice, Mehmet Dede returned to Istanbul, where he began making glass pieces that, though at first resembling the glass products of Venice, soon began to show a distinct Istanbul style.

In the glass workshops that were founded in Beykoz and that became synonymous with Istanbul glassmaking from the 19th century onwards, three different techniques were used: çeþm-i bülbül (eye of the nightingale) glass; opaline glass; and crystal and transparent glass. Of these, it is çeşm-i bülbül glass "in which colored sticks of glass are bound with the body of the glass piece and then twisted" that is most identified with Beykoz glass.

The Ottoman porcelains in the collection, which were highly valuable and thus designed exclusively for use in the palace, can be classed into two separate groups: those branded as Eser-i İstanbul (Product of Istanbul), and Yıldız porcelains. The Eser-i İstanbul porcelains were the first Ottoman porcelains to be produced, beginning production in the time of Sultan Abdülmecid (r. 1839 - 61) in the workshops of Beykoz.

The porcelain objects made in these workshops were produced using the underglaze technique and bear the "Eser-i İstanbul" brand on their bottoms; the color of the paints used to decorate the piece are typically the same as the color found in the brand. The production of Eser-i İstanbul porcelains, which are distinguished by their patterns of large flowers, lasted just thirty years before production was ended due to ongoing financial difficulties.

Yıldız porcelains comprise the second group of Ottoman porcelains. Production began in 1890, in the time of Sultan Abdülhamid II (r. 1876 -1909), in a factory established in the garden of Yıldız Palace; the name of the factory was the Imperial Yıldız Factory of Chinaware (Yıldız Çini Fabrika-ı Hümayûn). Though the Yıldız porcelains were primarily produced to satisfy the need for porcelain of the palace residents, they were also given as gifts to foreign statesmen and high-level Ottoman dignitaries. Additionally, Yıldız porcelains were sent to the kings, queens, tsars, and tsarinas of Europe as gifts of state, and can still be found in European palaces today, albeit in small numbers.


The palace's European glassware collection comprises basin and pitcher sets, candy bowls, covered bowls, large and small plates, carafes and glasses, sherbet glasses and pitchers, coffee cups and holders, chandeliers, and candelabra.

Bohemian glass and crystal make up an especially important part of the collection. Beginning in the first half of the 17th century, a new variety of glass began to be manufactured in Bohemia using a technique that revolutionized the glassmaking industry. Among the works in this collection is a set consisting of a decanter and six glasses, produced expressly for Sultan Abdülhamid II (r. 1876 - 1909) by Ludwig Moser, who worked at the Bohemia Glassworks between 1857 and 1893. The palace collection also includes French, English, and Russian glassware.

European porcelain is displayed it the gallery above the silverware section There are over 5,000 pieces in the collection, the majority of which in comprised of diplomatic gifts to the Ottoman sultans. We know that Chinese porcelain was exported by the Mongols of the 9th and l0th centuries and utilized in the Ottoman palaces by the 14th century, but it was not until the discovery of kaolin, which is one of the basic ingredients of porcelain, near Colditz by the German chemist Bottger, in 1709-10.

It was then that hard clay porcelain started to be manufactured, whereas it soon captured the European market. Early Meissen ware, the first hard porcelain produced on order during the J.G. Horold period (1720- 31) from the new Meissen factory (the Saxony royal factory founded by the Polish monarch Augustus II) , was the first ware to reach Turkey in quantity as it became fashionable both here and in Europe. The Palace collection includes tureens, plates and cups from that period.

A number of pieces show some signs of Chinese and Japanese influence especially in the choice of Chinoiserie patterns. Ware of the subsequent period, that of Harold and Kaendler (1731-40) includes cups and sugar bowls and a certain amount of ware made especially for Turkey, the finest of which were made by order for the court, and are now on display in the Palace. Rococo (1745-63) and Marcolini ware, (1774-1814) is also represented here.

Artifacts from the Berlin Royal Porcelain Factory, the second most important center of porcelain in Germany for the period include a large clock mounted on a base with two candlesticks and dated 1857, tea sets and fruit bowls marked K.P.M. One of the more important pieces in the collection is a large vase from the Nymphenburg factory founded in 1753, decorated by the Munich academician, Carl Heinzman in 1836 and presented the following year to Mahmut II by the Prince of Bavaria.

Among other important artifacts are some Du Paquier ware, early pieces from the Viennese factory founded in 1718 in what was then second most important European center of so-called hard paste porcelain. The Istanbul pieces, a bowl and ewer dated 1730-35 were made for the oriental market. Later Viennese ware dating from the last reign of the Austrian monarchy (1805-1864) were also of the kind made on order for oriental markets.

These include a number of lidded pots, chargers, sweetmeat vessels (for sherbet) and plates bearing the mark of the Hapsburgs- a shield, which were acquired from the Istanbul market. The Palace collection also boasts a number of examples of French porcelain, in particular soft paste ware produced in Vincennes from 1738 to 1756, and later in Sevres alongside Sevres hard-paste ware, after the Vincennes factory was transferred there in 1756.

The earliest piece in the collection is a soft paste vase dated 1816, decorated by Gilbert Drouet (1785-1825) .Other important pieces include jardinieres marked Charles X ( 1829-30) , the so- called 'forest' service bearing the mark of Louis Philippe (1830-48) and a compote set with the same mark. One interesting piece in biscuit ware is a statuette of a stag hunt and a horn-blower, while there are also some lidded jars originating from a Paris workshop which are encrusted with precious stones, and some Limoges ware of note.

Diplomatic gifts to the court include tableware and vases bearing the mark of Czar Nicholas I (1825-55) and made in the Moscow imperial factories, an assortment of European ceramics, and a set of ceramic tableware made in the Polish royal factory at Warsaw, the latter presented to Sultan Abdulhamit I (1770-1780) by the Polish monarch Stanislas Paniatowski in 1778.

Other ceramics of interest are a blue and white flask bearing an oriental pattern with a silver lid, the product of Delph (1691-1721), a Falco ware ewer from Savona and various ceramic vessels from French, Spanish and German factories.


WEB SITE : Topkapı Palace Museum Directorate

E-Mail :
Phone : +90 212 512 0480
Fax : +90 212 526 9840

These scripts and photographs are registered under © Copyright 2017, respected writers and photographers from the internet. All Rights Reserved.


Sultanahmet, Fatih - Istanbul - Turkey

GPS : 41°00'42.2"N 28°59'04.0"E / 41.011722, 28.984432

Second Courtyard



Glass And Porcelain Collection Of Istanbul

Throug a small entrance near the fireplace in the "Helvahane" we enter the room called "Reçelhane" in which mainly jams and marmalades were prepared. The red-coloured thick round stone seen in the middle of this room was used for this purpose. Today this part of the old kitchen features attractive porcelain and glass collections, all items of which were manufactured in Istanbul (18th - 19th centuries). The objects displayed are from the following Istanbul factories.

Istanbul Glassware

Artifacts from the Palace collection include pieces of mainly local (Istanbul) porcelain of the Ottoman period, and 19th century glassware. They are exhibited in what was once the Confectioners' Kitchen and Mosque, which was combined into one large hall between 1940-45. The glass and porcelain collection consists of nearly two thousand pieces acquired through various means, the porcelain mainly from Yildiz Palace.

It is known that glass was produced in the Ottoman capital from an early period, whereas we can identify the sites of glass workshops in Istanbul dating from the 16th century onwards. The earliest such workshops were located Ayvansaray and Balat on the Golden Horn, as well as in the Tekfur Sarayi vicinity. During the late Ottoman period, glass workshops were opened on the Asic shore of the Bosphorus in Beykoz Pasabahce, Cubuklu and Incirli.

Istanbul ware consequently tends to be referred as "Beykoz" ware. Glassware from imperial factories at Beykoz was awarded a medal at the London Exhibition of 18 and ware from the imperial factor) Incirli was displayed at the Paris Exhibition of 1855. According to museum records, a large quantity Beykoz ware, namely the filigree ware known as Çeşm-i Bülbül was purchased by the museum in 1884.

The great majority of the ware in the collection dates from the 19th century, and there are four main types; Çeşm-i Bülbül, a form of fine glass mosaic filigree ware similar to Venetian Latticino; opalines; colored ware; and clear glass and crystal. Rosewater sprinklers; including some in the form of birds and pistols are of particular interest. Tall, narrow tulip specimen vases dominate the collection. Other objects of note include bowls and ewers, decanters and iceboxes.

An unusual group of Meerschaum biscuit ware, some of which are glazed yellowish-brown and gilded, and a few pieces glazed black and inlaid with silver are also notable. Known as Tophane ware, these artifacts, mainly coffee-cups, trays, writing sets, pipes, hookah bowls, coffee jars and sugar bowls were the products of workshops located on Lüleci Hendek Street in Tophane, Istanbul. The finest examples date from the 19th century. At the peak of production there were nearly 60 operating workshops in Tophane, the last of which closed down in 1928. Most ware of this kind are signed and some are dated.

The Tophane Factory

This factory was named after the area in which it was situated at Tophane, a district in Istanbul. It produced ochre pieces such as ink boxes, cigarette holders, coffee cups and others. These are in black, brown and ochre colours, and in addition are decorated with bronze-covered gold or gold foil. The work of the Tophane factory is influenced by traditional Turkish arts and crafts.

The Yıldız Factory

Towards the end of the 19th century the factory in Beykoz ceased its proudction. As a result, Sultan Abdülhamit II had a new porcelain factory established in the garden of Yıldız Palace. The Topkapı Palace collection has very beautiful pieces from this factory : vases and plates with flower and landscape motifs, and coffee and tea services featuring portraits of the Sultans can be seen amongst others. Some of the items have monograms of Sultan Abdülhamit II's "tuğra", and others have the Turkish crescent and star; dates are often included. Both the Beykoz and Yıldız products were designed predominantly for court use.

European Glassware

A relatively small display of European glassware is shown in the silverware gallery. Being fragile, comparatively little of this ware has survived. Among the more important pieces are two 'latticino' lamps, which must have been among the many artifacts ordered from the glass workshops of Venice from the 16th century onwards.

Similar ware dating from the 16th-18th centuries to be found in the collection includes dessert jars, perfume vials, decanters and glasses, which were among the artifacts presented to the court over the centuries. A certain amount of 'miscellaneous' ware is also on exhibit, floral decorated vases, mirror handles and paperweights in particular.

A particularly important group of glassware for the collection is the Bohemian glassware, made in Czechoslovakia, which appeared on the Istanbul market after 1700 and was widely purchased thereafter. Its popularity was due to the fine, durable quality of the glass and the decorative workmanship of renowned -artists, and lasted throughout the 18th century, although with the arrival of Meissen porcelain on the world market after 1710, Bohemian glassware declined in quality.

Bohemian crystal of the 18th century is well represented in both palace and private collections in Turkey. Among the colored crystal ware of the period are decanters, dessert jars and glasses. Bowls and ewers of green crystal that were made especially for the Palace are particularly notable. Water samovars and glasses presented as gifts to Sultan Abdulhamit II (in the late, 19th century) the products of the Moser factory in Carlsbad, Austria are also of interest.

They bear the monogram of the sultan decorated in enamel. Also among the Sultan Abdulhamit gifts were fine gilded and enamelled vases presented by the Lobmeyr family, glassmakers to the Viennese court, which attest to the importance of Bohemian glassware even at that late period. A set of green Russian glasses, also of interest, was presented by Czar Alexander III ( 1881-94) and bears his seal. Examples of European, French, English and Irish crystals are also to be found in the collection.


Copper works, an important part of Topkapı Palaces kitchenware, are exhibited in the Confectionery House (Helvahane) in the palaces kitchens, where sweets such as halva, candies, the gumlike candy called macun, baklava, as well as many other confections, and soap, were produced for the use of the palace residents.

All of the pots used to cook food in the palace kitchens are made entirely of copper. These pots are quite big, since they were used to serve all those resident in the palace; this would amount to food for at least five thousand people per day, and even more on special occasions.

Tombac ware is an important group within the palaces kitchenware. Tombac, obtained by applying a gold and mercury alloy to copper so as to produce a golden hue, was first used in Ottoman culture in the 16th century, but did not achieve widespread use until the 17th century.

Several examples of tombac ware dating from the 18th and 19th centuries can be found in the palace collection, among which are basin and pitcher sets, rosewater vessels (gülabdan), censers, containers for cups and for sherbet, water jugs, milk pitchers, small service trays, covered bowls, soup bowls, coffee kettles, ladles, and containers for carrying cooked food. Additionally, the collection contains stone kitchen bowls, marble and bronze mortars, small plates made of colored stone, service trays, candy bowls, and sherbet glasses.


Collection Of European Silverware
This collection is housed opposite the palace kitchens, and since the beginning of 1984 has been displayed on two floors. On the ground floor there is a small section for the collection of silverware which displays a small part of the 3,000 pieces in the collection. They are fine and attractive pieces, showing the skill and craftsmanship of the palace silversmiths, there are also gifts which were given to the Sultans by their own subjects within the Ottoman Empire, as well as  gifts from other countries (mainly in Europe).

An important part of the collection is the gifts presented to Sultan Abdülhamit II for the 25th anniversary celebration of his accession to the throne. These are models of various prominent buildings. On the first floor an interesting European porcelain collection dating from the 18th and 19th centuries can be seen. This consists of selected smaples of Limoges, Vincennes, Sevres, Augarten, Meissen and Petersburg porcelain. The porcelain displayed here forms a small part of the overall collection of about 5,000 pieces. Almost all pieces are gifts given to the sultans from various European countries.

The palace collection, which is composed of nearly 3,500 pieces, includes artifacts brought to Topkapı from Yıldız Palace during the Republic as well as the silverware kept in Topkapı during Ottoman times. After being displayed in various parts of the Palace, the collection was moved to the present site in the dormitories of the cooks, confectioners and table stewards attached to the Palace kitchens below the European Porcelain rooms, which were all restored prior to opening on April 4th, 1984.

The collection contains no pieces earlier than the 16th century, as some silver artifacts were melted down at a time when the imperial coffers lacked funds. Most of the remaining pieces were made by the court silversmith and are all marked "900 ayar sah" (90% pure sterling silver) and with the monogram of the relevant sultan. The artifacts are decorated with inlay, repousse, niello and latticework and gilded over the interior and decorative motifs.

The earliest artifact in the collection is a silver coffee salver bearing the monogram of Sultan Süleyman I (1520- 1566), and a small bowl, both engraved with hatai and rumi motifs of Far Eastern origin. The two artifacts belong to a key period in the minor arts of the Ottomans, and it was from the first half of the 16th century onwards that we find the typical characteristics of Ottoman metalwork emerging. Silver bowls and ewers bearing the classical Ottoman decorative motifs reflect the taste of successive periods in form also.

One ewer bearing the monogram of Sultan Ahmet III (1703-1730) is noticeably unadorned with motifs, while an Sultan Abdülmecit (1839-61) bowl and ewer set bears the carnation motif typical of the period, and a monogrammed set of the Sultan Mahmut II period ( 1808-1839) is distinguished by the imperial arms worked in high relief. Ewer and bowl sets were often accompanied by a soap dish.

The significance of the coffee ceremony in Ottoman society is plain from the number of silver, gilded and porcelain coffee sets found in the Ottoman palaces. The coffee samovar rested on a small silver brazier filled with hot ashes, and generally constituted a set, both artifacts bearing identical motifs. Coffee cup holders were among the implements of the coffee ritual, and silverware of this kind were worked in niello and filigree, inlaid and encrusted with precious stones.

Porcelain cups were placed in their holders, which were brought before guests on a tray complete with the coffee ewer and brazier and covered sugar bowls. Incense holders and rosewater sprinklers were also a part of the paraphernalia of the ceremony. Other artifacts include tiny silver pipe braziers in which charcoal was burnt to light the long-stemmed hookahs, or water pipes, also part of the coffee ritual. These braziers were lidded and highly decorative. The pipe itself rested on a silver plate, a rimmed object in latticework.

One of the finest sets of ceremonial paraphernalia as described is currently displayed in Topkapı, alongside other ceremonial and everyday palace silverware. One of the more interesting types of vessels are silver asure jugs, (others in porcelain and crystal are also to be found). These were pear-shaped vessels with lidded beak-like spouts and lugs, decorated with high relief (repousse) and chased motifs, which were used to pour sweet broth known as asure, which was cooked in great quantities in the Palace on the 15th day of the month of Muharrem.

The jugs in the collection reflect rococo influence. Other artifacts include large round dining trays, silver tureens with large floral finials on the lid, and sweetmeat and tea sets, all of which were used as regular tableware as well as during court ceremonies, and silver mirrors, candlesticks, and writing caskets.

Gifts presented to Sultan Abdülhamit II (1876-1909) to celebrate his 25th year as Sultan make up a group in themselves, among which the large encrusted vases and models are particularly interesting. Other diplomatic gifts presented to the throne include European and Russian silverware, dinner and tea sets and candlesticks in particular.


WEB SITE : Topkapı Palace Museum Directorate

E-Mail :
Phone : +90 212 512 0480
Fax : +90 212 526 9840

These scripts and photographs are registered under © Copyright 2017, respected writers and photographers from the internet. All Rights Reserved.