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Ottoman Turks

The Ottoman Turks were the ethnic subdivision of the Turkic people who dominated the ruling class of the Ottoman Empire.


Brief History

The Ottomans were first known to the west in 1227, when they fled the Mongol Empire into the Seljuk Empire in what is now called Anatolia. However, they would have a state in Western Turkey under Ertugrul Gazi, whose capital was Sgt, near Bursa to the south of Turkey's Sea of Marmara, the body of water between the Black Sea and the Aegean Sea. He established a principality as part of the decaying Seljuk empire. His son Osman expanded the principality, and for him both the empire and the people were named by Europeans. Osman's son Orhan expanded the growing empire taking Nicaea, present day Iznik, and crossed the Dardanelles in 1362. But the Ottoman empire came into its own when Mehmed II captured the Byzantine capital, Constantinople (subsequently to be known as Istanbul), in 1453.

The Ottoman empire would rule much of the Balkans, the Fertile Crescent and even Egypt over the course of several centuries, until it was replaced by the Young Turks, whose leader Enver Pasha staged a coup in 1913. After the Second World War Muhammad V was removed and in 1922 the modern Republic was formed.

Culture and the Arts

The conquest of Constantanople, made the Ottomans the ruler of one of the most profitable empires on earth, connected to the flourishing Islamic cultures of the time, and at the crossroads of trade into Europe. The Ottomans would grow and make major developments in calligraphy, writing, law, architecture, and military science, and would become the standard of opulence.

Ottoman Calligraphy

Because Islam is a religion which focuses very heavily on learning the central text of the Qur'an, calligraphy became one of the foremost of the arts.

The early Ykt period was supplanted in the late 1400's by a new style pioneered by Seyh Hamdullah (1429-1520) which became the basis for Ottoman Calligraphy. Focusing on the nesih version of the script, which became the standard for copying the Qur'an (See Arabic Calligraphy).

The next great change in Ottoman calligraphy comes from the style of Hfiz Osman (1642-1698), whose rigorous and simplified style found favor with an empire at its peak of both territorial extent, and governmental burdens.

The late calligraphic style of the Ottomans was created by Mustafa Rkim (1757-1826) as an extension and reform of Osman's style, and placing greater emphasis on technical perfection which broadened the calligraphic art to encompass the sls script as well as the nesih script which had been the dominant standard script.

Ottoman Poetry

Ottoman poetry produced epic length verse, but is better remembered for shorter forms, for example the gazel . The epic poet Ahmedi (-1412) is remembered for his Alexander the Great, and his contemporary Sheykhi wrote verses on love and romance. Yaziji-Oglu produced a religious epic on Mohammed's life, drawing from the stylistic advances of the previous generation and Ahmedi's epic forms.

Ottoman painting

By the 1300's the Ottoman Empire's prosperity made manuscript works available to merchants and craftsman, and produced a flowering of miniatures which depicted pagentry, daily life, commerce, cities and stories, as well as chronicling events. While initially based on Seljuk models, the Ottoman style became increasingly ornate and individualized, with Sultan Mehmet The Conqueror fostering artists to come to his capital at Istanbul and Bayezid the Second creating workshops.

As with European medieval manuscripts, the handwritten books of the early Ottoman Empire feature copious illustrations. The style is flat and without perspective, and focuses on the important individual. An example [1] from 1567 of The Presentation of Gifts by the Safavid AmbassadorShahquli to Selim II in 1567 is a typical example of illuminated manuscript work.

By the late 1700's European influences in painting are clear, with the introduction of oils, perspective, figurative paintings, use of anatomy and composition.

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