About Turkish Arts
Traditional Turkish Arts
by K. Kafa
Although our website offers "Turkish art and antiques",
these terms are our modern (and somewhat generalized)
way of referring to art forms that can be separately
identified, or broken down into more specific groupings.
These groupings are not just the most obvious ones,
such as the categories we have chosen to display on
our main page (ceramics, engravings, miniatures), but
on a more scholarly level, each of these categories
have their own sub classes.
Above all else, it is important to note that traditional
Turkish art has been closely related to Islamic art;
and naturally so because for a long time, Turkish (Ottoman)
influences blanketed a large portion of the "known"
world. Indeed, as the Ottoman Empire grew in size and
strength, the art culture of its rulers spread with
it, affecting lands and peoples from the edges of Europe
across to Asia and down to Africa.
But even before the time of the Ottoman Empire, there
were Turks (and their art and cultural forms), and so
it becomes important to distinguish just what is meant
The Turks migrated from central Asia right up to the
borders of the Byzantine Empire and into the land now
known as Turkey, settling in Asia Minor during the 10th
century. By the 12th century, they were in clear control
of Anatolia. There were several Seljuk groups in the
area, but for about 2 centuries, their power was firm,
clear, and as a result, their art and culture was influential.
Their art and culture were of the East, from where they
originally came, but clearly different from other arts
and cultures of the East (not Persian, or Indian, for
example). As they grew in power and established relations
and trade with neighboring lands, their culture and
art spread with them.
At the beginning of the 14th century, the Seljuk's
power and authority weakened and was replaced by another
group of Turks, the Ottomans (descendants of the ruler
Osman). Ottoman Turkish culture was of more or less
the same roots as that of the Seljuks, but Ottoman rulers,
particularly from the middle of the 16th century on,
were great patrons of the arts. As their political influence
over the lands under their control extended, so did
their influence in the arts. And because they also spread
their (Islamic) religious beliefs, the effects of the
influence of their art were all the more obvious.