Prayer Book of Düzdidil


This luxuriously decorated prayer book was commissioned around 1844 for Düzdidil, the third lady in the harem of the Ottoman sultan, Abdülmecid I (reigned, 1839–61). The occasion for the commission was tragic: the 19-year-old woman had fallen victim to the epidemic of tuberculosis then raging in Istanbul. As was fitting for her position, the prayer book is lavishly ornate. It contains 33 surahs of the Qur’an, 80 prayers of request and praise, and 61 miniatures. The rococo style of the manuscript corresponds to contemporary Ottoman taste. An artist named Hüseyin created the emotive illustrations in the appendix, which feature views of the holy places in Mecca and Medina as well as the relics of the Prophet kept in the Topkapi Palace (i.e., his prayer rug, rosary, toothpick, and standards). In addition, many other objects of popular Islamic belief are depicted, including Ali’s sword called Zulfiqar, the Prophet’s footprint, and Solomon's seal.

Last updated: November 15, 2013