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Author Topic: PORTOLANS  (Read 3405 times)
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« on: September 30, 2007, 08:54:15 am »

Various military maps or siege plans were produced by the Ottomans. In two siege plans, one of Belgrade and the other of Lepanto, painted in the technique of miniature painting, Lepanto is shown enclosed in flatly rendered walls but the monuments themselves in elevation. It is in way a map and also a miniature painting. The plan of Belgrade has scattered vignettes reminiscent of portolan style but the way the buildings are shown, the-plants rendered and the colouring is typical of Ottoman miniatures of the time.

The best examples of Ottoman mapping are found among the works of Piri Reis, a manner and a cartographer at the court of Selim I and Suleyman the Magnificent. His well known world map of 1513 based on the Columbus map of 1498 and the various copies of his Kitab-i Bahriye, a book of portolans and sailing directions, are full of city views and legendary images worthy of attention. In the long inscription on the world map he says he consulted 20 maps and mappamondi and legends about the discovery of America.

Figure 3. Sicily Island, Kitab-i Bahriye, Suleymaniye Library, Ayasofya, 2612.

Later in the century several Ottoman atlases without text were produced, some of them with elaborate illustrations. In an atlas in the Walters Art Gallery dating from late 16th century, the major cities in Europe and the East Mediterranean are depicted with accurate details (Alexandria and Marseilles). Genoa is depicted with its two harbours, but the most interesting image in the atlas is the panorama of Istanbul.

The city is divided by the Golden Horn and the Bosphorous into three sections and each section when viewed from the sea is drawn like a ground level panorama. The Istanbul skyline with its major mosques and Galata section with its tower are marked with accuracy, not to forget the arsenal which was elaborated in the second half of the 16th century. The panorama looks like a ground level view at first sight but it also gives the feeling of a bird's eye view because the city is shown from a distance. Yet it totally lacks the single perspective used in bird's eye views of European towns by cartographers such as Roselli and Barbari at the beginning of the 16th century.

On the other hand this panoramic view of Istanbul is not an imaginary or symbolic representation of the town nor is it in any way reminiscent of portolan style town views seen previously. It is more in line with detailed panoramas of Istanbul often drawn by European travellers in the 16th century such as the Lorichs panorama or the Vienna one. They are ground level panoramas seen from the Galata section. The true bird's eye view plan of Istanbul was published by Braun and Hogenberg in the Civitates Orbis Terrarum early in the 17th century (1572-1618) where the view of Istanbul is in the perfect geometrical perspective.

Braun and Hogenberg included figures and portraits in their city views and there is an interesting note in their publication. They say they did this to prevent the Turks whose religion forbade images from using their maps for their own military end.
« Last Edit: September 30, 2007, 08:55:44 am by Bianca2001 » Report Spam   Logged

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