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This new facsimile of an illustrated Ottoman manuscript gives us an extraordinary tour of a large slice of the Sultan’s domains. Created at a time when the Ottoman Empire was growing exponentially in size and power, the original work is a monument to a great triumph. In 1534–35 Süleyman the Magnificent led a military campaign against the Safavid rulers of Iran and Iraq and conquered northern and central Iraq.
The manuscript reproduced in facsimile is the only copy of the work and is entirely by the hand of its author, Matrakçı Nasuh, who died in 1564. This writer produced books on diverse subjects, and several of them are illustrated with topographical paintings which he seems to have executed himself. In this case, he painted 107 views that show the route the Sultan followed during the campaign. These images complement the relatively simple exposition of the route in the text – a simplicity obscured by the courtly language employed. The book is something like a campaign diary, with a record of each stage of the journey. The editor, Professor Nurhan Atasoy, has therefore chosen to call the work the Menâzilnâme– the Book of Stages.
It was for centuries the preserve of sultans, extolled by the ancients, sought after in the harem, a staple of palace kitchen and pharmacy. More precious than gold, mastic brought fortune and fame to the island of Chios, today the world’s sole source of this ‘Arabic gum’. Now, thanks to a pioneering initiative, the Turkish shores across the water will be green with mastic groves. Text and photographs by Berrin Torolsan
An ambitious new work of classical music – based on Howard Blake’s enchanting score for ‘The Snowman’ – has just received its world premiere. This concert is just one of many achievements by Talent Unlimited, a Turkish charity that gives budding young virtuosi a helping hand. Tony Barrell tells the story. Photographs: Monica Fritz
And the award for most versatile, most nourishing and best-loved ingredient goes to… the humble chickpea. Berrin Torolsan explores its history and its limitless talent to entertain us in a multitude of different roles
A fascinating exhibition at the Istanbul Research Institute that explores a dog’s life in Ottoman Istanbul and the transformation of attitudes as Westernisation takes hold
Yusuf Franko Kusa used brush and pen and position to lampoon and pull the strings of Ottoman high society. Unseen for 60 years, his caricatures are now the subject of a fascinating exhibition in Istanbul, writes K Mehmet Kentel
At one time all roads led to Erzurum, a key stop on a great caravan route and a strategic bastion against invasion. Today it is a remote city on Turkey’s Asian frontier with an important history crying out to be discovered. In Part 2 of Cornucopia’s Beauty and the East series, the photographer Brian McKee continues his tour of eastern Anatolia in Erzurum as Scott Redford leads us from Turkic citadel to Mongol minarets.
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