Founded in Anatolia (present-day Turkey) in the 13th century, the Ottoman Empire expanded across Western Asia, North Africa, and Southeastern Europe for over 600 years. Istanbul was the capital of the Ottoman Empire from 1453 to 1922 CE and the center of artistic development. The influence of the Ottomans expanded beyond its borders through vast trade networks, and its lands were home to people of many different religious, cultural, and ethnic backgrounds.
Originally a parlor games room, this gallery showcases the interior of a home in Damascus, Syria during Ottoman rule. The multi-colored, gilded wood decoration adorning the walls is known as ‘ajamī. The richness of this design reflects the affluence of its original inhabitants. In its time, Damascus was a bustling commercial center and an important stop on the pilgrimage to Mecca. Doris Duke purchased the interior from New York University and installed it at Shangri La in the 1980s.