The ideas about Ottomans in Italy during the 15th and 16th centuries:

the study through textiles




the Ottoman Empire, Italy, antique textiles, ornament, Costume book


The article is an attempt to supplement the knowledge of Italians' ideas about Ottomans during the 15th and 16th centuries, using the preserved antique textiles of both cultures, as well as fabrics' mentions in written and visual sources.

Modern technological research methods of ancient textiles make it possible to clarify their attributive data, which in turn contributes to more definite conclusions about artistic exchanges in the field of decoration of expensive textiles. Thus, for example, it turned out that two fabrics from the collection of the Khanenko Museum, which were considered Italian, are the work of Ottoman masters. If the structure of the Italian and Ottoman fabrics of the period under the study are quite different, visually – they are often almost identical. Despite the fact that the trade in Ottoman fabrics was not widespread in Italy during the 15th and 16th centuries, Italian painters and weavers still actively imitated the textile products of the Middle East.

Written sources, especially epistolary and inventory, are also filled with references to Ottoman fabrics and "turkish-style" textiles. Since there were few authentic silks from West Asia in the secular space of Italian cities at the time, it is likely that citizens could even associate Ottoman culture with certain types of local textiles that looked like "Turkish". The number and peculiarities of their description in written sources suggest the Italians' enormous interest in Ottoman culture, "cautious concern" for the growing Ottoman Empire, and recognition of its dominance over many Asian peoples. All this took place in spite of the permanent wars between the Venetian Republic and the Ottomans. The entry into Italian fashion of fabrics "in the Turkish style" was lightning fast. However, local authors emphasized the antiquity of this fashion tradition, to some extent rooting the idea of ​​kinship between the two cultures.




How to Cite

Hotsalo, K. (2022). The ideas about Ottomans in Italy during the 15th and 16th centuries:: the study through textiles. TEXT AND IMAGE: ESSENTIAL PROBLEMS IN ART HISTORY, 1(13), 84–98.



Ancient, Medieval and Early Modern art