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Contents / Sugar Sculpture and Gardens

Elephants, giraffes and elaborate gardens were among the eye-catching sugar sculptures carried at Ottoman festivals. The idea that pictorial art is forbidden by Islam is a widespread but mistaken view. In fact the Koran contains no such proscription, and all kinds of figurative representation were to be found in Ottoman Turkey, which was an Islamic state, including miniatures, wall paintings, pictures on tiles and so on. In particular miniatures illustrating many subjects were painted over the centuries. The six-volume 'Siyer-i Nebî' about the life of the Prophet Muhammad is illustrated with no less than 800 miniatures, and there are hundreds more miniatures in other religious books. Marble and stone fountains, tombstones, architectural relief decoration and dovecotes are some examples showing the skill of Ottoman craftsmen at carving. Although these stone sculptures can still be seen, others made of less durable materials and representing human and animal figures have not survived.

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