Published: September 12, 2000
Treasures from the Topkapi, Istanbul
FORT LAUDERDALE, FLA. – A traveling exhibition of imperial jewels and treasures from the Topkapi Palace in Istanbul, Turkey, the historic center of one of the world’s most powerful empires, may be seen at three museums in the United States. “: Treasures from the Topkapi, Istanbul” features rare art and artifacts from the royal home of the Ottoman sultans from the Fifteenth to the Nineteenth Century. Many objects in the exhibition have never before left the Palace, and highlights include the famous emerald and diamond adorned Topkapi dagger as well as an exquisite Sixteenth Century throne made from ebony, ivory and mother-of-pearl.
Organized by the Palace Arts Foundation, the exhibition opened at The Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. in March and is now on view at the San Diego Museum of Art through September 24. It will then be at the Museum of Art, Fort Lauderdale, Fla., from October 15 through February 28, 2001.
“: Treasures from the Topkapi, Istanbul” includes more than 200 objects on loan primarily from the Topkapi Palace Museum. These objects represent the extraordinary artistic achievements and blending of cultural aesthetics that occurred during the Ottoman Empire. The exhibition will also explore the powerful roles of the sultan in Ottoman society as absolute monarch, supreme religious leader, military strategist and royal patron of art and education.
Featured in the exhibition is the Topkapi dagger, made famous by the popular 1964 Jules Dassin film Topkapi. Originally crafted before 1747 as a gift from the Sultan to the Iranian Nadir Shah, the dagger never reached its intended recipient, who was killed in an uprising before the Ottoman emissary crossed the border into Iran. The dagger, which was returned to the Topkapi treasury and has remained there ever since, features three unusually large emeralds in its handle, with an eight-sided emerald cover at its top concealing a small watch. Along both sides of the handles are rows of diamonds, and the back of the handle is covered in mother-of-pearl and enamel.
Also on view is one of the Palace’s great treasures, a Sixteenth Century ebony and ivory throne, thought to be used by Sultan Suleyman I (reigned 1520-1566) on his many travels to Asia and Europe. Inlaid with mother-of-pearl, the throne was used by the Sultan when receiving high court officials and foreign ambassadors. Other highlights include rich Ottoman textiles and silk royal robes; jewel-encrusted ceremonial objects; intricately designed wool and silk carpets from imperial looms; finely crafted armor and weaponry; Chinese porcelains; musical instruments; illuminated religious and literary manuscripts; and bejeweled domestic objects.
The Museum of Art is at one East Las Olas Boulevard, at the corner of Andrews Avenue in downtown Fort Lauderdale. MOA is open Tuesday-Thursday and Saturday from 10 am to 5 pm, Friday from 10 am to 8 pm, and Sunday from noon to 5 pm. The public information line is 954/525-5500.
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