The Ottoman Turks, rulers of what was one of the world's greatest empires, had a passion for decoration that manifested itself in every aspect of their lives, not least in the textiles with which they adorned themselves, their homes, and palaces. Ottoman Embroidery is the first book ever to look at the whole range of embroidered textiles produced within this important and highly influential culture, from the commonest leggings and handkerchiefs to the costliest robes and decorated tents. It draws widely on textiles from both private and museum collections in Europe, Turkey and the United States of America. Throughout the main period of the Ottoman Empire-from the capture of Istanbul in 1453 to the creation of the Turkish Republic in 1923-textiles were the most important and valuable element in international trade. Embroidery by hand was the usual form of textile decoration, and this persisted alongside machine embroidery into the early years of the 20th century. Ottoman embroidery is distinguished by the boldness and richness of both pattern and color, always handled with great assurance and an innate design sense, especially when combined, as it invariably is, with great technical skill. What adds to its fascination is the fact that historical changes in society and the mixture of cultural influences are so often reflected in the textiles. The sumptuous and confident use of shapes and colors is beautifully borne out in the 140 color photographs that bring alive the lucid and well informed text. The book's chief focus is the various forms of embroidered domestic textiles, although it also looks at larger, more public textiles made for the palaces and the civil services. Geographically, the focus is on the embroideries made in the Turkish mainland in Asia and Europe, but some work produced further afield in the Empire showing influences of the Ottoman styles is also included.
Roderick Taylor was brought up in India and the Middle East, and has always had a great interest in the art of the area. He studied Oriental languages at Cambridge, and his career as an International Management Consultant has kept him traveling around the world, giving him the ideal opportunity to research the textiles in the places where they were made. He has been collecting Ottoman and Greek Island embroidery since 1957, and has built up a wide and impressive collection. He is a lecturer on these and other textiles and contributes to Hali, the specialist textile magazine, as well as the Macmillan Dictionary of Art and the British Museum publication 5000 Years of Textiles.
"This beautifully illustrated volume examines an aspect of Islamic art not well known in the West. Taylor, a contributor to the textile magazine Hali, begins with a short background on Ottoman history and culture. He next discussess the types, designs/patterns, and techniques employed by the Ottomans and then examines their influence under two headings: Islamic Style and Infidel Style. The volume is scholarly in its approach, well researched and carefully written. The illustrations are very well reproduced, giving accurate color and losing none of the detail. Though it is a pity that Taylor did not examine embroideries done by some of the minorities-Jews, Armenians, and Greeks, among others-to see how the styles influenced one another, this is a volume to be included in every serious collection on art and Islamic culture and will be of interest to the general reader as well as the specialist."