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Connoisseur 54

  • A tradition of jewellery design going back to the Turkic courts of Central Asia reached its zenith in Ottoman times. This splendid 16th-century gold belt-buckle from the Sadberk Hanım exhibition has jade plaques set with ruby-red spinels. Jade was used for many things, from spoons to archer’s thumb rings


The Ottoman love of jewellery is celebrated in a small but dazzling show

Afife Kadın, who had been a favourite of Mustafa II, dazzled Lady Mary Wortley Montagu with her fine array of jewellery when the great letter-writer visited her in Istanbul. “According to the common estimation of jewels,” wrote Lady Mary in 1717, enumerating the jewels one by one, “in our part of the world, her whole dress must be worth above a hundred thousand pounds sterling. This I am very sure of, that no European queen has half the quantity.”

The Sadberk Hanım Museum celebrates its 35th anniversary with an exhibition that gives a glimpse of the opulence that surrounded the Ottomans. Jewel (Cevher) displays 139 exquisite items dating from the 16th to the early 20th century. Among the aigrettes, diadems and medals are everyday objects decorated with jewels – spoons, coffee-cup holders, mirrors, pipes, writing boxes, even fly whisks. Some were produced in imperial workshops and across the empire, others in Europe for the Ottoman market. But they all share a rare refinement.

The museum – one of the last wooden waterside mansions on Istanbul’s European shore – is a gem in itself, small, sparkling and in a beautiful setting. Step upstairs to see the fine costumes that wore the jewels.

Other Highlights from Cornucopia 54
  • Beauty and the East

    The fine art photographer Brian McKee left Istanbul last July to explore the fabled sights of eastern Turkey. Renting a flat in the city of Van, he pored over a weighty survey by the scholar TA Sinclair and followed in his footsteps for 3,000 magnificent kilometres, around Lake Van, and north as far as the old Iron Curtain

  • Bread of Heaven

    Oozing delicious juices, irresistibly moreish, the ‘tirit’ covers a range of traditional Turkish soups and stews, both savoury and sweet, with slices of bread at their heart. Berrin Torolsan serves up the ultimate in comfort food

  • On the Threshold of a Dream: Küçüksu Kasrı

    Visitors arriving by water at the sultans’ pavilion of Küçüksu Kasrı could scarcely believe their eyes. As the gates on the Bosphorus swung open, they entered a world of head-turning theatricality, beauty and embellishment – a Dolmabahçe Palace in miniature that charmed a prince. By Berrin Torolsan. Interior photographs by Fritz von der Schulenburg

  • A World Beyond the Walls

    Istanbul, straddling two continents and sandwiched between two seas, has a thrillingly varied flora which includes many plants seen nowhere else on the planet. Sadly, it is also critically endangered. Text and photographs by Andrew Byfield

  • Going with the Flow

    Alice Greenway went to Istanbul to study Turkish and learnt to love swimming in the Bosphorus while she was at it

  • Ceramic Dynamics

    Two weighty tomes on the glories of Iznik pottery. Tim Stanley reviews the magnificent new Iznik book cataloguing the stupendous Ömer Koç Collection and a new study of Iznik’s Damascus offshoot.

  • Christmas in ruins

    Last Christmas, the art historian Francis Russell escaped the festivities for a hectic week revisiting the Aegean’s most fascinating historic sites, in readiness for a new, enlarged edition of his guide ‘Places in Turkey: A Pocket Grand Tour’. Here is his diary of an action-packed week

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