Name of Object:

Rosewater bottle


Sultanahmet, Istanbul, Turkey

Holding Museum:

Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts


Hegira last quarter of the 10th century / AD 16th century

Type of object:

Gold, silver, metal

Museum Inventory Number:


Material(s) / Technique(s):

Gold, silver, various metals, porcelain and glass. Decorated with turquoise-work (firuzekari) and openwork.


Height 32 cm

Period / Dynasty:



Istanbul, Turkey.


The rosewater bottle has a pear-shaped body and a short round base. The tall, slender neck is shaped like a cypress tree and is fitted to the body with a knob, which has vegetal decoration and turns on a shaft.

Pieces of polished turquoise are attached to the body, a technique called firuzekari. An openwork design with alternating bunches of tulips, roses and carnations, and cypress trees, has been created by carving out the metal background. There are firuzekari cypress trees on the sprinkler as well as palmettes in the same technique on the base. The entire surface is decorated with rubies and emeralds fitted into sockets. Firuzekari and gold were used decoratively on Qur'an covers in particular, during the last quarter of the AH 10th century / AD 16th century.

Turquoise, a greenish-blue gemstone, is considered in Turkish popular culture to this day to be a talisman against the evil eye and is thought to prevent bad luck and accidents.

In the Ottoman period such rosewater bottles, exquisitely crafted and decorated with precious stones, were used mostly by palace officials. Rosewater bottles were made of gold, silver, porcelain and glass; they had long necks, narrow mouths and large bodies. They were used for pouring or sprinkling rosewater over the hands of guests, including at religious gatherings such as mevlid (the celebration of the birthday of the Prophet). Normally a rosewater bottle would also have a tray and be used together with an incense-burner during such ceremonies.

View Short Description

How date and origin were established:

Naturalistic motifs of tulips, roses, hyacinths, cypresses and pomegranates started to infuse the Ottoman decorative repertory in about the middle of the 10th / 16th century. As such motifs are found on our example as well as on similar works of art at the Topkapı Palace Treasury, this rosewater bottle is dated to the last quarter of the 10th / 16th century.

How Object was obtained:

It was brought to the museum on 10 January 1919 from the Tomb of Eyüp Sultan (Ayyub al-Ansar).

How provenance was established:

The high-quality workmanship, as well as the existence of similar objects at the Topkapı Palace, suggests that this bottle was made in the Topkapı Palace workshops in Istanbul.

Selected bibliography:

Anadolu Medeniyetleri III, Selçuklu–Osmanlı (Anatolian Civilizations III, Seljuqs–Ottomans), Istanbul, 1983, p.181.

Citation of this web page:

Alev Özay "Rosewater bottle" in Discover Islamic Art , Museum With No Frontiers, 2019.;ISL;tr;Mus01;29;en&id=gold_and_silver

Prepared by: Alev ÖzayAlev Özay

Alev Özay is an expert at the Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts in Istanbul. She was born in Ankara, Turkey in 1942. She graduated from the Department of Ancient Near Eastern Languages and Cultures of the Faculty of Letters, Istanbul University. She first worked at the museums of Tekirdağ and Kayseri. She attended Ottoman language courses in 1976–7 and restoration and conservation courses in 1982 organised by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism. She published an article on the “Turbe of Sultan Ahmet” in 1979 and in 1983 prepared the catalogue for the Exhibition on Islamic Arts in the 15th Century of the Hijra.

Translation by: Barry WoodBarry Wood

Barry Wood is Curator (Islamic Gallery Project) in the Asian Department of the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. He studied history of art at Johns Hopkins University and history of Islamic art and architecture at Harvard University, from where he obtained his Ph.D. in 2002. He has taught at Harvard, Eastern Mediterranean University, the School of Oriental and African Studies, and the Courtauld Institute of Art. He has also worked at the Harvard University Art Museums and the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore. He has published on topics ranging from Persian manuscripts to the history of exhibitions.
, İnci Türkoğluİnci Türkoğlu

İnci Türkoğlu has been working as a tourist guide and freelance consultant in tourism and publishing since 1993. She was born in Alaşehir, Turkey, in 1967. She graduated from the English Department of Bornova Anatolian High School in 1985 and lived in the USA for a year as an exchange student. She graduated from the Department of Electronic Engineering of the Faculty of Architecture and Engineering, Dokuz Eylül University, Izmir, and the professional tourist guide courses of the Ministry of Tourism in 1991. She worked as an engineer for a while. She graduated from the Department of Art History, Faculty of Letters, Ege University, Izmir, in 1997 with an undergraduate thesis entitled “Byzantine House Architecture in Western Anatolia”. She completed her Master's at the Byzantine Art branch of the same department in 2001 with a thesis entitled “Synagogue Architecture in Turkey from Antiquity to the Present”. She has published on art history and tourism.

Translation copyedited by: Mandi Gomez

MWNF Working Number: TR 53

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