Rålamb Book of Costumes


Rålambska dräktboken (The Rålamb book of costumes) is a part of the Rålamb Collection in the manuscript holdings at the National Library of Sweden. The founder of the collection was Baron Gustaf Rålamb (1675‒1750), one of the most well-known manuscript collectors of the 18th century. The book of costumes was bought by Gustaf Rålamb’s father, Claes Rålamb (1622‒98), in Constantinople in 1657‒58. The Rålamb Collection was donated to the National Library in 1886. The book of costumes is a muraqqaʻ, a type of picture album usually put together from several different sources. This type of album was popular among collectors. The manuscript contains 121 colorful miniature drawings of Turkish officials, people of various occupations, different ethnic groups, and so forth. The drawings are in India ink with gouache and some gilding. Most of the leaves have notes in Swedish, French, Italian, or Latin describing the miniature in question as well as notes made by Claes Rålamb himself. After the miniatures is one leaf with portrait drawings in six medallions. Four of the portraits are of Sasanian rulers, and one is probably of a Byzantine ruler (whose name has been erased, but it is likely that it shows Heraclius, who was the eastern Roman emperor when Islam emerged in Arabia). The remaining painting is that of ‘Abd Manaf (an ancestor of the Prophet Muhammad).

Last updated: February 18, 2016