Dwarf at the Turkish court

There were many dwarfs and mutes at the Ottoman court, and so I was intrigued to find this painting of a dwarf from the early 17th century.  

There is a great deal more to be done to bring them to light (at least in Western languages) and to explore their relationship to jesters, as well as the presence of jesters at the Turkish court.  One excellent piece of research in this regard is Ayşe Ezgi Dikici’s thesis ‘Imperfect Bodies, Perfect Companions?’, one of the first works featured in the Bibliography.  It includes a range of iconographic material as well as providing a broad overview of the presence of dwarfs and mutes in the 16th and 17th centuries. 

References: Dikici, Ayşe Ezgi, ‘Imperfect Bodies, Perfect Companions? Dwarfs and mutes at the Ottoman court in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries’, M.A. dissertation, Sabanci University, 2006.

Image credit: Series: The Habits of the Grand Signor’s Court (c. 1620), unknown artist (Ottoman school); © Trustees of the British Museum, CC BY-NC-SA 4.0

British Museum notes: Folio 31b from an album of paintings showing Turkish sultans and court officials. Cüce, dwarf. Wearing a slate blue kaftan, pale blue tunic with a gold design, white robe, yellow boots, gold kemer (belt) and black humbaraci börku (head-dress).  A dwarf; single-page painting mounted on album folio. Dwarf wearing a slate blue kaftan, blue tunic with a gold design, white robe, yellow boots, gold belt and black headdress. Inscribed. Album contains 124 paintings of Turkish sultans and court officials.   Ink, opaque watercolour and gold on paper. Album bound in green leather with pages of Persian paper, according to inscription. Page edges gilded with gold.

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