Textile Society of America


Date of this Version



Textile Narratives & Conversions: Proceedings of the 10th Biennial Symposium of the Textile Society of America, October 11–14, Toronto, Ontario


Copyright 2006 by the author.


As a result of Westernization act within the State, flourishing from the end of 18th century, essential alteration took place in the social and cultural life in the Ottoman Empire. Western influence asserted itself intensively as soon as Sultan Abdulmecid (1839-61) was enthroned; it was Western style which was immediately imitated in State Governance as well as in every aspect of life, in architecture, architectural decoration, in furnishings, in clothing and home textiles such as upholstery fabrics and carpets used in Sultan Palaces. One of the most striking references of this alteration is the Dolmabahce Palace which was built in 1842-56. The Palace shows disparity from decorative and functional aspects compared to the former palaces with its interior decoration and the textiles (carpets, draperies, upholstery fabrics).

In duration of Westernization Period, Ottoman Empire defined the visual images of authority in Western style so as to be accepted as a legitimate state in the international system. Ottoman Empire, not willing to lose prestige against the prevailing political power of West, started to imitate it in cultural domain consciously and used carpets with motifs of European style. In this paper, it is intended to explain the chancing visual image of authority and imperial objects in Ottoman Empire in view of European style carpets held by the Dolmabahce Palace in Istanbul.

Within the 600 years lifetime of the Ottoman Empire, the location of the palace, which was the centre of the government, had been changed a few times. First, the palace in Bursa moved to the capital in Edirne, and then moved to Istanbul. When Istanbul became the capital of the Empire, the first palace established in this city was the Old Palace - Saray-ı Atik-i Amire (1453- 1478). Topkapı Palace (1478-1456) followed this first central government, and then the sultan used the Topkapı Palace, the Old Çırağan Palace, Beşiktaş Coastal Palace and the Old Beylerbeyi Palace at intervals. The central government moved finally to Dolmabahce Palace as its construction was completed in 1856 (fig. 1).