Sinem Arcak Casale
- Assistant Professor
- University of Minnesota, Twin Cities
In the early modern period, the Shiite Safavids of Iran and the Sunni Ottomans of Turkey developed a complex relationship in which tenuous peace alternated with bloody conflict. This dissertation is the first systematic study of this relationship from the perspective of visual culture, and focuses on objects exchanged by these empires through gifting. These objects enriched the visual culture of each court, and led to the formulation of two distinctive artistic canons. Far from supplementing the letters that envoys carried, they carried powerful messages of their own. Through an examination of the gifts’ ritual presentation and reception, this dissertation also investigates the use of material culture to project both political power and cultural influence in the early modern world.
The Shii Safavids of Iran and the Sunni Ottomans of Turkey, two of the most powerful early modern courts, developed a complex relationship in which tenuous peace alternated with bloody conflict. This is the first book-length study of this relationship from the perspective of visual culture. The project’s broad periodic scope and its emphasis on the countless diplomatic gifts exchanged show that it was not just the wars fought and treaties signed that defined diplomacy and political interaction in the early modern Islamic world, but that objects actively shaped interactions by forming, strengthening, and even breaking ties. Exploring Ottoman-Safavid gift exchange also encourages a fresh consideration of significant political concepts such as masculinity, sovereignty, and imperial and religious identity.