What do articles of daily use communicate concerning persons and eras? Which clues do cellular phones, pen, kitchen utensils we use reveal about us? The book entitled “Articles of daily life in the Ottoman era” investigates these questions, sheds light on peoples’ outlook on life during the Ottoman era, within a journey reaching over from palaces into unpreten-tious homes. The Ottoman Empire is usually referred to in terms of the geographic extent of its territories, its military strategies and the grandiose lifestyle of its palaces. Yet at the same time, the Ottomans have created a genuine culture of life by blending the cultural heritage of the civilizations which preceded them on the same soil with their own religious and social values. The colourful mosaic stemming from the multinational character of the Empire was reflected on all aspects of life from the most humble homes to the richest mansions and to lodgings and caravanserais in the whole Ottoman geography. This blend of cultures left its mark in all fields, like for instance, as much in the area of aesthetics as in the philosophical domain.
The book “Articles of daily life in the Ottoman era” written by author Şinasi Acar and first published in 2011 by the YEM publishing house, follows the footprints of Ottoman culture on the area of daily lifestyles through little objects among which some are just artisanal handworks whereas others can be considered works of art. A great variety of items to be admired in this book, from belt buckles to rose water flasks, from incense-burners to seals and inkpots and pen-cases with inkwell set the stage for a journey through history. A rose water flask is testimony to the graceful hospitality tradition of the Ottomans in welcoming and treating their guests with refinement, a belt buckle is witnessing to the level of artistic perfection reached by Armenian jewellers and their Turkish apprentices. The pen and inkpots lead to imagine the devoted spirit in which letters with one corner burned were written, as signs reflecting the self-sacrificing approach to love of the people of that era.
This article has originally appeared in “Müze” Magazine, published quarterly with the contributions of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism. We would like to thank TÜRSAB Museum Enterprises for sharing this piece with Istanbul Digital Platform followers.