Details & Cataloguing

Arts of the Islamic World including Fine Rugs and Carpets


An Ottoman painted wood turban stand with tortoiseshell and ivory-inlaid case, Turkey, 18th century
the turban stand of domed cylindrical form on a pentagonal base, the lower section painted in red with gilt arabesques, the base with a single line of cursive calligraphy on each face in gilt on a green ground, the wooden case of octagonal form with a deep hinged door with gilt-copper mounts, the decoration composed of inlays of mother-of-pearl, tortoiseshell and ivory with panels of symmetrical floral designs alternating with interlocking geometric motifs, the interior lined with green cloth
Quantity: 2
stand: 26.5cm. height
case: 37.2cm. height
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Couleurs d'Orient, Brussels, 2010.
Turkophilia, Paris, 2011.


Brussels 2010, p.10.
Paris 2011, p.11. 

Catalogue Note


Around base of turban stand: 
destar gibi başım üstünde yerin var 
'Like the turban, your place is on top of my head'

The carefully inscribed gilt lettering on this decorative stand is composed of stanzas from the Ottoman Turkish poet Mahtumi Vahidi (d.1732), otherwise known simply as mahtumi. Hinting at a romantic oeuvre, further information on the writing styles of this poet can be found in The Cambridge history of Turkey: The Later Ottoman Empire 1603-1839, pp.499-500. Other examples of romantic poetry involving the turban can be found in the work of the Ottoman Sultan Ahmed I (1590-1617). The poetic Sultan wrote “If only could I bear over my head like my turban forever thee, if only I could carry it all the time with me, on my head like a crown, the footprint of the Prophet Muhammad, which has a beautiful complexion, Ahmed, go on, rub your face on the feet of that rose” (https://ottomanhistory.net/node/269). Described as “so important in signalling rank and status” (Istanbul 2001, pp.52-53.), turbans were key in establishing social groupings in Ottoman court scenes, and through their place in literature, appear to hold an authority and grandeur of their own. It can thus be deduced that a turban indicating high rank would enjoy storage and display of the calibre witnessed in the present lot.

Perhaps created for a sikke or turban cap, which may bear some resemblance to those worn by the dervish orders of Sufi Muslim ascetics, the poetic inscription at the base of the stand provides concurrent evidence of its purpose in holding a turban. The Victoria and Albert Museum in London has a number of illustrative and lithographed drawings of such turban caps. Proving a popular subject matter for orientalist painters across Europe, Luigi de Brocktorff produced a watercolour portrait between 1830 and 1840 (Victoria and Albert Museum, London inv. no. SD.175) which depicted dervishes sporting turbans and turban caps, likely to resemble those housed within this opulent case. Not only does the Topkapi Palace Museum hold an Ottoman painting of Suleyman the Magnificent (r.1520-66), wearing a red cap and turban appropriate for this stand (Topkapi Palace Museum, inv. no. R.804, folios 52a and 111b), but their collection also boasts a cap dated to the eighteenth century that would befit a stand and case of this style and luxury (see Washington 2000, p.136, no.C14, inv. no. 24/2113).

Arts of the Islamic World including Fine Rugs and Carpets