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The Ottoman Turks were the subdivision of the Ottoman Muslim Millet that dominated the ruling class of the Ottoman Empire. Reliable information about the early history of the Ottomans is scarce. According to some sources (references needed), the leader (khan) of the Kayi tribe of the Oguz Turks, Ertugrul, left Persiamarker in the mid-thirteenth century to escape the invading Mongols. He took service with the sultan of Rum and was permitted to invade and conquer lands in Bithynia, adjacent to the Byzantine territories of Nicomediamarker (Izmit), Nicaea, and Bursamarker,. He was successful in this quest, founding an amirate which rapidly grew in military strength because the lure of Byzantine booty attracted mercenary gazis from neighboring amirates. His son and successor, Osman I (reigned ca. 1299-1326), became the eponymous founder of the Osmanli (later corrupted by Europeans into "Ottoman") dynasty, which ruled the Ottoman empire during most of its 620 year rise and history.

Brief history

The "Ottomans" became first known to the West in 1227 when they migrated westward into the Seljuk Empire, in Anatoliamarker. However, the Ottoman Turks would create a state in Western Anatolia under Ertugrul, the capital of which was Sögütmarker; near Bursa to the south of the Marmaramarker, the body of water between the Black Seamarker and the Aegean Seamarker. Ertugrul established a principality, as part of the decaying Seljuk empire. His son Osman expanded the principality; and for him, both the empire and the people were named by Europeans as "Ottomans". Osman's son Orhan expanded the growing empire, taking Nicaea, present-day Iznik, and crossed the Dardanellesmarker strait, in 1362. But the Ottoman Empire came into its own when Mehmed II captured the Byzantine Empire's capital, Constantinople (subsequently to be known as Istanbulmarker), in 1453.

The Ottoman Empire would come to rule much of the Balkans, the Fertile Crescent, and even Egyptmarker, over the course of several centuries; with an advanced army and navy. The Empire lasted until the end of the First World War, when it was defeated by the Allies. It was succeeded by the modern Republic of Turkeymarker, founded by Kemal Atatürk in 1923.

Culture and the arts

The conquest of Constantinople, made the Ottomans the ruler of one of the most profitable empires on earth, connected to the flourishing Islamic cultures of the time, and at the crossroads of trade into Europe. The Ottomans would grow and make major developments in calligraphy, writing, law, architecture, and military science, and would become the standard of opulence.

Ottoman calligraphy

Because Islam is a religion which focuses very heavily on learning the central text of the Qur'an, and because Islamic culture has historically tended towards discouraging or prohibiting figurative art to a greater or lesser degree, calligraphy became one of the foremost of the arts.

The early Yâkût period was supplanted in the late 1400's by a new style pioneered by Seyh Hamdullah (1429-1520) which became the basis for Ottoman Calligraphy. Focusing on the nesih version of the script, which became the standard for copying the Qur'an (See Arabic Calligraphy).

The next great change in Ottoman calligraphy comes from the style of Hâfiz Osman (1642-1698), whose rigorous and simplified style found favor with an empire at its peak of both territorial extent, and governmental burdens.

The late calligraphic style of the Ottomans was created by Mustafa Râkim (1757-1826) as an extension and reform of Osman's style, and placing greater emphasis on technical perfection which broadened the calligraphic art to encompass the sülüs script as well as the neish script which had been the dominant standard script.

Ottoman poetry

Ottoman poetry produced epic length verse, but is better remembered for shorter forms, such as the gazel. The epic poet Ahmedi (-1412), for example, is remembered for his Alexander the Great. His contemporary Sheykhi wrote verses on love and romance. Yaziji-Oglu produced a religious epic on Mohammed's life, drawing from the stylistic advances of the previous generation and Ahmedi's epic forms.

Ottoman painting

By the 1300s the Ottoman Empire's prosperity made manuscript works available to merchants and craftsman, and produced a flowering of miniatures which depicted pagentry, daily life, commerce, cities and stories, as well as chronicling events. While initially is illuminated manuscript work.

By the late 1700s European influences in painting are clear, with the introduction of oils, perspective, figurative paintings, use of anatomy and composition.

See also

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