Palace contain many treasury areas where a glittering
collection of treasures are kept. The treasures consist
of enthronement gifts, gifts of ambassadors, purchases
of the Sultans themselves and items brought back as booty
from succesful military campaigns, especially those added
during the reign of Selim the Grim.
AND PORCELAIN COLLECTIONS
The kitchen buildings date from Fatih; the were surmounted
by four cupolas. Under Suleyman the Magnificent they were
enlarged by the addition of a supplementary section with
According to a document that has come into our possession,
under Murad III there were 1147 cooks and scullions working
in the kitchens. In the reign of Suleyman the building
was ravaged by fire; it was reconstructed by the famous
Turkish architect Sinan who added further buildings and
conical chimneys. Kitchens, cellars, baths for the staff,
made up the complement of these buildings whose function
was so essential to the Palace. It was only after the
new re-ordering of the place that the objects in porcelain,
copper and crystal, constituting one of the richest collections
in existence, were assembled and placed on exhibition.
The first room on the right is devoted to Chinese work
the most ancient date from the 9th to the 13th centuries.
These are the celadon, yellow or pale green in colour;
monochromatic pieces, perhaps the only ones of their kind
in existence. It is one of the rarest collections anywhere
to be found, composed of several sets containing more
than 10,000 pieces.
The Sultan Selim the Fearless and his son Suleyman the
Magnificent undertook the collection of this porcelain.
Young Sultan Selim after the Conquest of Egypt, had the
porcelain treasures of the Mameluk kings, transported
to Istanbul. Kanuni Suleyman made personal acquisitions
various works in porcelain, which he collected. The remaining
items were gifts presented to the sovereign. It is said
that the celadon pieces change their colour when anything
containing poison was poured into them. Such at least
is the legend which has persisted into modern times.
This is exhibited in Rooms 1 to 6. Cases 1 and 2. contain
French porcelain from Vincennes and Limoges, dating from
the 18th century. Case No. 4 contains vases with Napoleon's
initials and crest; No. 5 is devoted to Sevres work, notably
a deer hunt with six hounds pursuing the animal, a fine
work of great delicacy, gift of Felix Faure to Abdul Hamid
II. Vases of Russian manufacture are displayed in Cabinet
6. The French vases and earthenware from Fontaine-bleau
are in cabinet No. 7.
The last of the cabinets contains a table service offered
by the King of Poland, Stanislas Poniatowski (18th Century)
to Abdul Hamid I, augmented by medallions and by the following
«ln gratitude and affection to the Turkish Padishah»
: for we must not forget that the Ottoman Empire was the
only state to refuse to countenance the partition of Poland.
A large vase on which is reproduced the figure of King
Charles XII, of Sweden who took refuge in Turkey after
his defeat by the Russians, and other pieces of Stockholm
manufacture, can be seen in Cabinet No. 9. These pieces
of porcelain in Topkapi Palace contain like the pages
of a book the glorious history of Turkey.
Cases 15 and 16 in the second room are full of German
works, including the first products of Meissen (1720 -
1730). Case No. 18 contains Venetian crystal work (noteworthy)
No. 19 contains pieces made in Vienna for the Oriental
market; among these two basins, two pitchers, and two
jugs with bronze taps for serving sherbet are particularly
worthy of mention (1730). In case No. 20, ten jam pots
with diamond-studded lids, Paris workmanship, are very
valuable. Bohemian crystal work is on display in cases
22 and 23. In case 25 there are two sherbet cups of island
crystal work (17th century), and a fine narghileh.
third room contains 28 thick tubes of chased silver, enclosing
messages of congratulation from the Indies in the year
1901 (messages from the population on the occasion of
the 25th anniversary of Abdulhamid II's accession to the
throne). In addition to these there are three more containers
in the shape of large coffers with drawers.
Cabinets 27 to 35 contain hundreds of silver chandeliers,
plates, jugs, samovars, jewel-boxes, tobacco boxes, sherbet
containers, trays, iceboxes, silver lanterns, as well
as bibelots, coffee-services, writing cases and candelabras,
all in silver and made in different styles, daggling to
the eye. Cabinet 36 in the middle invites a few minutes
pause. Here are displayed those objects offered to Abdul
Hamid II on the occasion of his 25th jubilee. The Istanbul
Syndicate of Coastal Shipping had a miniature paddle-hot
made, flying the national flag, the star and crescent
in gold on a background of red enamel. On the borders
of the flags hoisted on the masts, are the dates 1876
and 1900, commemorating the Sultan's 25th Jubilee.
In the same cabinet is displayed a large silver urn which
is of special interest to German tourists, for coins of
the currencies of all the different states of the German
Empire are set into the sides; the cover bears the crest
of the Germano-Roman Empire. This also was an exceptional
gift made to the same sovereign. In cabinets 37 to 42
are further objects in silver and crystal: bowls, both-slippers,
cups, jugs and a warrior in marble and silver. Cabinet
43 contains a coffee-service from Bokhara (Central Asia),
and other objects from Asia and Europe.
OF THE «HIRKA-I-SAADET»
is a much revered corner of the Palace by virtue of the
Mantle of the Prophet which is piously preserved and carefully
guarded there, together with several other sacred relics.
Once a year, on the 15th of the month of Ramazan, this
sanctuary was solemnly visited by the Sultan, the men
of state and great dignitaries of the Empire. The building
rests on arcades and is surmounted by our domes, beneath
the first of which is the entrance, which contains also
a small fountain with a refreshing water-spray; the wails
are covered with 18th century tiles; beneath the second
dome is a waiting-room: the next dome shelters beneath
the arch of its vault the holy and precious relic: the
Mantle of the Prophet; new rooms opened to visitors are
decorated with beautiful tiles, predominantly pale green
in colour. The doors and the gutters of Kaaba in Mekka,
enclosed in cases of gold, are carefully guarded in special
Inside the sanctuary, on the right, in a central cabinet
ere preserved the relics of the prophet: a chipped tooth,
a flask used in the posthumous ritual ablution, a hair
of his beard, his battle sabres, the imprints of his feet
and an autograph letter, of great value, to the Chief
(Emir) of the Copts residing in Egypt, from the Prophet
of Islam. Leaving this venerated enclosure, we see on
our left the window of the sanctuary; the interior has
an incomparable splendour seen through the stained glass
of this window. A silver grill in the window protects
the treasures of gold and silver and rare silks inside,
which gleam before us, while golden lamps hang from the
ceiling enhancing the brilliance of the pure silk carpets,
delighting still further eyes speeped in the complete
tranquility this holy place inspires.
Facing us on the right, an arbour, of pure silver claims
our attention; its columns are covered with golden flowers
in relief, pierced out on the precious metal. This work,
which dates from the 16th century, is embellished with
gilded designs; in the interior of this precious shelter,
on a repository, rests a gold coffer in which is contained,
under several embroidered cloths, the Mantle of the Prophet
Mohamet, a brief history of which follows :
Very pleased with some verses that the poet Kaab Bin-Buher
had dedicated to him, the Prophet took off the cloak he
was wearing and laid it on the shoulders of the happy
poet. At the poet's death, the King of the Emevi, Muaviye,
bought the cloak from his heirs at the cost of 20,000
pieces of silver. It subsequently came into the possession
of the Abbasid dynasty. Following the capture and destruction
of Bagdad by Hulagu Han, the historic cloak was dispatched
to Egypt and hidden there, where it became the property
of the Abbasids, who were then ruling the Nile Valley.
Yavuz Sultan Selim [the Fearless), during his victorious
invasion of the land of the
Pharoahs, took this sacred relic as a prize and preserved
it in the Ottoman Palace.
This historic garment, which has been the object of a
great cult for 1407 years, made of black wool and has
wide sleeves; it is 1 m, 24 in length.
On the tile-covered walls and in the four built-in cupboards
various sacred objects are kept, such as the swords of
the four first Caliphs of Islam and other motable muslim
personages. A pot that belonged to Abraham, the carpet
of Mohamets daughter, Moses's staff and Joseph's turban,
are among the jealously guarded units. All these relics
of a remote and mysterious era lie in this room.
armory contain outside-tents, swords and several bows,
iron swords used by European crusaders, Ottoman chain
mails and shields. The curved battle sword of Mehmet the
Conqueror., complete with the scratches and nicks incurred
during his many military campaigns, along with his talismanic
shirt, which was worn under armor or ceremonial court
robes, the diamond encrusted suit of chainmail designed
for Mustafa III, the dagger of Mehmet IV, a fine example
of 17th century craftsmanship, are some pieces in the
Imperial costumes of the sultans can also be seen in the
museum. Kaftans and flalvars designed and tailored for
ceremonial and ordinary use are displayed as well as a
perfectly reserved kaftan once worn by Mehmet the Conqueror.
Palace contains a collection of over 13000 miniatures
and manuscripts; several examples of calligraphy such
as the map of Piri Reis which is the oldest known map
that includes the continent of America; the richest collection
of Korans in the world which comprises texts of the Koran
inscribed during the 7th - 19th centuries. There is a
saying that: "The Koran was revealed in the Hijaz, recited
in Cairo and inscribed in Istanbul." Calligraphy
was used not only in manuscripts, but as architectural
decoration, and some of the finest examples of Turkish
calligraphy are to be found on inscription friezes on
domes,walls,faience revetments and hanging panels and
the treasures are:
A golden elephant with a burden of jewels, and below this
a music-box of the 18th century; some cabinets display
looking glasses of great richness, decked with cut diamonds
and emeralds and encrusted with rare gems and precious
— Among the jewels and gold ornaments two bibelots
attract attention, both the work of European artists,
the first a negro slave, work in miniature studded with
diamonds, with a fine pearl in the shape of a fork in
the lower part; the second represents a sheikh sitting
below a kiosk; the kiosk is in gold and the sheikh's body
a single huge pearl.
— Pocket watches and small clocks.
— The ebony throne of Murad IV (17th Century); in
the campaigns of 1638 the Sultan carried it among his
baggage and it was seated on this historic throne that
he received his homage after the retaking of Bagdad.
— Saphires, some sabres; the saphires are remarkable
for their clear blue colour. There is a jewelled aigrette
with two great emeralds and a ruby said to have been made
by Suleyman the Law-Giver with his own hands.
— A gold cradle decorated with jewels.
— The Kandjar, which the film Topkapi made known
throughout the world. A special decor was used in the
projection of this oriental dagger embellished with three
emeralds and with an ingeniously contrived watch set into
the base of the hilt.
— An assembly of beautiful spoons, in every colour
— The caftans, turbans and plumed crests of the
Sultans. Beginning at the left side of the cabinet the
garments are ranged in order of the time the oriental
styles first, remarkable for the splendour of the gems
which adorn them; the more recent of the Ottoman rulers
simplified their clothes, as one can see, adopting the
western costume suitable to their period.
— Throne of Ahmet I, a very delicate and carefully
finished piece of work, inlaid with mother-of-pearl, resting
on four slender columns, surmounted by a circular dais
from which hangs an ornamental ball in the form of a huge
emerald, with tassels of choice pearls, each of them attached
by clips entirely fashioned of emeralds and rubles.
— A display of writing materials and writing desks,
enriched with precious stones.
— A golden coffer, covered with precious stones,
which used to contain the poetry book of Ahmet III , cupboard
would be a more accurate description in view of its size,
quite half a metre high and half a metre wide.
— Some dazzling bindings in gold, covered with gems.
From each hangs a golden censor covered with brilliants,
and diamonds, terminating in a heavy pointed pearl.
— Golden lamp-trimming scissors, furnished with
little receptacles for holding the burnt wicks
— Rosaries of all sorts and colours; pearls, emeralds,
turquoises, coral and other gems. Some cabinets contain
canes set with brilliants an rubies, notable among which
is a very precious one made of plates emerald, together
with a gold belt, costly armbands and a goblet of great
— Priceless throne of the Shah Ismail which by a
miracle or rather, by force of arms , came into the possession
of the victorious Turks. This historic throne, which is
in the Indian Style, might have been brought by the Sultan
Yavuz Selim (The Fearless) after the Victory of Chaldiran;
however the Palace
records make no mention of this. A more probable explanation
is that it was offered as a gift by Nadir Shah of Iran
to Mahmut I.
A scarf formerly belonging to Abdul Hamid I, from which
hang clusters of pearls and emeralds of normal size and
sixfacetted; it seems stifled in its mounting of gold,
and is as thick as a clenched fist. Three more scarves
formerly belonging to Abdul Hamid I ornamented with a
large octagonal emerald and a cluster of pearls; then
a verse of the Koran traced out in brilliants and enclosed
in a frame; finally two unique diamonds of great rarity
- the "Kevkeb-I-Durii" and the "Sheboheragh".
— Women's broaches in branch forms, glittering on
their black velvet cloth.
— The Spoonmaker's Diamond (Kasikci), universally
known and appreciated, it is said that jewelry enthusiasts
travelled to Istanbul only to admire this superb gem.
It holds a special place of honour, its 49 gems in two
ranks of brilliants fittingly mounted. This one piece
occupies the whole cabinet. According to Rasid, the official
historian of the period, the following is the history
of this rarest of crown jewels. A tramp was scavenging
in a pile of refuse at Egrikapi on the shore of the Marmara,
in Istanbul, when he came across a stone of astonishing
brilliance. He took his find and sold it to spoonmaker
who gave him three spoons in exchange; the carfsman in
his turn sold stone to a jeweler for 10 akces. But after
examining the stone the jewelers quarreled among themselves;
the chief of the corporation, informed of the disagreement,
paid compensation to the two principal antagonists and
took possession of the piece. The Sultan Mehmet IV, learning
of the discovery of the stone, secured it for himself
and had it cut. Thus was brought to light a rare diamond
of 84 carats... and that is how this precious stone, fallen
no one knows how into a pile of rubbish, has continued
for centuries to delight our eyes.
— An ornament belonging to Mahmut II, with his monograms
in brilliants, pastel coloured and seeming to anticipate
— In the middle of the room there is a ceremonial
throne of the 10th century entirely covered with thick
gold plating, decorated with various ornamental motifs