Miniatures from the Topkapi Museum

Prior to the Turkish revolution in 1924, the Palace was the home to a community that provided all services necessary to everyday court life and ceremonial events: from mosques, schools, baths, workshops, studios, and libraries to the armory, mint, and treasury where the most precious objects were kept. Today this vast collection of riches and relics, together with the buildings within Topkapi's labyrinthine structure, attracts visitors and scholars from all over the world.

The following items represent museum's outstanding group of Islamic miniature paintings, found in illustrated copies of classic works and as surviving fragments pasted or bound into albums in the former royal libraries. The first examples of the Ottoman miniature paintings were produced under the patronage of Fatih Sultan Mehmet (Mehmet the Conqueror ) in mid 15th century. An important feature of the Ottoman miniatures is the realistic portrayal of actual events while adhering to the traditional rules of Islamic art. Topkapi's priceless collection encompasses not only Ottoman works but also those of many different dynasties and regions within the Islamic world, including Baghdad and Mosul in Mesopotamia (13th century); Il-Khanid Tabriz and Muzaffarid Shiraz (14th century); and Akkoyunlu Shiraz and Tabriz, Timurid Herat, and Safavid Shiraz and Tabriz (15th century). Included are scientific works such as Dioscorides' Materia Medica; romances such as the fables of Khalila and Dimna; the Khamsa of Nizami, the Shahname of Firdawsi; and later Ottoman works such as the Süleymanname and the Selimname, in praise of the exploits of individual sultans.