TurkoTek Discussion Boards

Subject  :  Italian influence or interrelatedness?
Author  :  Daniel Deschuyteneer
Date  :  06-07-2000 on 01:47 p.m.
daniel.d@infonie.be Dear all, I think we may not really speak of an "Italian" influence as the influences were reciprocal and the designs used in the two countries, especially in velvet and chatma fabrics, were interrelated. Here is some information extracted from Nevber Gürsu's book concerning the Italian influence in Ottoman art(p. 3; 165-9). During the 15th century, the Turks achieved maturity in the political, as well in the cultural, social and economic fields. At this time, silk fabrics were of great importance, not only as commercial commodities but also as symbols of wealth and magnificence. As the Anatolian Silk Roads were safe, Bursa developed into an international commercial and industrial center of very considerable importance for the trade between East and West. Bursa was visited by merchants from Venice, Genoa, Florence and Iran for trade purposes. The exchange of silk fabrics between the various countries resulted in reciprocal influences in textile design. Ottoman Chatma fabrics were much influenced by Italian products, a development which started in the 15th century. In the following century, as the Ottoman art of weaving continued to develop, Ottoman textiles began to influence the fabric design of other countries. A number of motifs and styles, particularly in textile designs, were common to both countries and Chatma fabrics were probably a common product of the two countries. Only technical differences (type of metallic threads, double pile velvet ground) and the restricted number of colors (including the bright Turkish crimson red), permit sorting some Italian and Ottoman chatma fabrics. Historical documents indicate that Italian merchants settled in the district of Galata, in Istanbul. At the same time, from the reign of Beyazit I onwards (1621 until 1838), Ottoman merchants in Venice were granted special concessions, allowing them to engage freely in commerce. They lodged and conducted their business in the Casa del Ferrare. This building was later known as the "Fondaco dei Turchi" Perhaps that our Italian friends can add some information. This combination of Turkish technology and cheap labor with Venetian enterprise came to dominate the European market. Turkish weavers and artists borrowed the pomegranate and pineapple motifs from Italian fabric designs but employed them in a unique way. Although these motifs disappeared from Italian silks after 1525-1550 they continued to be employed in Turkish fabrics throughout the 17th century. The most important motif inspired by Italian designs was the crown, very often placed on the lattices forming the medallion. Here are two photo (ill.63 & 71) of Nevber Gürsu's book, showing the the crown motif in two pieces from the mid 16th century. Thanks, Daniel

Subject  :  RE:Italian influence or interrelatedness?
Author  :  Michael Wendorf
Date  :  06-07-2000 on 04:02 p.m.
Dear Daniel: Thank you for your labors in this Salon. Very helpful. In the cataloge to the Corcoran Exhibition there are several essays. One of these is by Tulay Artan. In his essay entitled "Periods, Functions, Messages", Artan writes that: when Mehmed II died in 1481, the empire that had built and consolidated over 30 years straddled two blocks of territory. One in Europe and one in Asia. The success in straddling these two worlds is reflected both in the Topkapi collections and their art which point to diverse origins, backgrounds and linkages: a Turcoman vein, heavily overlaid with a Chinese/Far East connection, a Timurid/West Asian connection, a Mamluk/classical Islam connection, and a Venetian/Italian connection rooted in the 13th and 14th centuries, when Venice and Genoa extended their economic influence and power in the Black Sea, the Aegean and the Eastern Mediterranean. It was through these new Italian zones of control that the Turcoman lords of Anatolia started learning about the sea. After 1453 it was with Venice that Mehmed II had to contend for hegemony. For centuries thereafter, Venice had a finger in virtually every anti-Ottoman alliance; Sultan and Doge kept clashing: at Preveza (1538), Lepanto (1571) etc. At the same time, they inevitably kept learning from and influencing one another... luxury goods and the craftsmen skilled in producing them flowed back and forth across frontiers. Many leading members of Ottoman elite placed a premium on Renaissance artists and artisans. This was clearly the attitude of the conqueror himself who, based on his early sketches seems to have been taken by western art. From 1461, when work on the Topkapi started to Mehmed's death in 1481, invitations went out from Istanbul to numerous painters, decorators and bronze workers, as well as specialists in the minor arts. Even during periods of war, 1463-79, artists from Rimini, Ragusa (Dubrovnik), Milan, Florence and Venice found their way to the Ottoman capital. This would seem to support your thesis of reciprocal influences between the Ottomans and Italians. Further, recall that the Topkapi collections include several Italian velvets from this period. Thanks, Michael

Subject  :  RE:Italian influence or interrelatedness?
Author  :  Daniel Deschyteneer
Date  :  06-08-2000 on 12:56 a.m.
Dear Michael, It's not my thesis but the thesis developed by Nevber Gürsu in his book. I just share his thoughts. Daniel

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