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The Rålamb Costume Book

The 'Rålamb Costume Book' is a small volume containing 121 miniatures in Indian ink with gouache and some gilding, displaying Turkish officials, occupations and folk types.

They were acquired in Constantinople in 1657-58 by Claes Rålamb who led a Swedish embassy to the Sublime Porte, and was acquired by the Swedish Royal Library in 1886. The library call number is Cod.Rål. 8:o nr 10.

This volume is a variant of the so-called muraqqa-album type, which is rather common in libraries in Europe. They were probably manufactured for European visitors, as precursors of the 19th century 'pittoresque' photos and the present-day folklore postcards.

The miniatures have strong connections with the 'Rålamb Procession Paintings', a series of 20 paintings depicting the Sultan's procession to Adrianople, which are now displayed in the Nordiska Museet in Stockholm. Rålamb witnessed this procession and described it at length in his diary. The paintings were executed to his order, probably by a European artist. The miniatures may well have served as models for the artist.

And, M., Turkish miniature painting : The Ottoman period. - Istanbul 1982.
Bassano, L., Costumi et i modi particolari della vita de' Turchi. - München 1963 (repr. of orig. Rom 1545).
Gibb, H.A.R. & Bowen, H., Islamic society and the West. 1:1-2. - London 1950-57.
Hetzer, A., Turcica. - Bremen 1986. - P. 76-79.
Mantran, R., Istanbul dans la seconde moitié du 17e siècle : essai d'histoire institutionnelle, économique et sociale. - Paris 1962.
Rålamb, C., Diarium under resa till Konstantinopel 1657-1658, utg. gm Christian Callmer. - Stockholm 1963. - (Historiska handlingar ; 37:3).
Taeschner, F., Alt-Stambuler Hof- und Volksleben. En türkisches Miniaturalbum aus dem 17. Jahrhundert. 1. - Hannover 1925.
Titley, N. M., Miniatures from Turkish manuscripts : a catalogue and subject index of paintings in the British Library and British Museum. - London 1981.
Ådahl, K., Orientalismen i svensk konst. - Höganäs 1990. - P. 91-95.

Illustrations from the Rålamb Costume Book

Editor: Göran Bäärnhielm -
Royal Library / Manuscript Department

Ottoman military illustrations from the Rålamb Costume Book