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Örn; Ottoman Empire


Apartment of the Holy Mantle and the Holy Relics

Sultan Selim I (1512-1520) inaugurated a new ceremony at Topkapı Palace after he conquered Egypt in 1517 and brought the holy relics back to Topkapı Palace. From then on, every year on the fıfteenth day of the month of Ramazan, the long sleeved mantle belonging to the Prophet Muhammed was removed from its chest and reverently kissed by the sultan, his vezirs and other dignitaries. In preparation for this event the chest containing the holy relics was removed to the Revan Pavilion, while the Pavilion of the Holy Mantle was cleaned thoroughly, its walls washed with rose water, its columns polished, and the air scented with incense made from musk, aloes and other aromatics. Then the chest was carried back to its place by fifteen royal attendants reciting prayers.

 Footprint  of Prophet Muhammed.

When the day of the ceremony arrived high-ranking state officials, clerics, and the commanders of the Janissaries and horse guards gathered in front of the Babü's-Saade Gate leading from the second into the third Court of Topkapı Palace, When the grand vezir was informed that the şeyhülislam had arrived at Haghia Sophia, he joined those waiting at the gate and accompanied them to the noon prayers at Haghia Sophia. Meanwhile the sultan performed his prayers in his own apartments.

Description of Probhet Muhammed

After prayers, everyone returned to the palace and followed the sultan in procession to the Pavilion of the Holy Mantle. While hafiz recited the Koran, the sultan opened the chest with the gold key which he always carried with him, revealing a gold casket wrapped in seven layers of green silk velvet finely embroidered with silver, Having removed these, he unlocked the casket with another gold key and lifted the two parts of the lid.

The bow of Muhammed is 118 cm long and made of some
kind of reed stem
. Sultan Ahmed I had a case made of gilt and silver niello made for the bow.

Inside lay the Holy Mantle, also wrapped in seven rich cloths, Lifting out the mantle, the sultan kissed it. Touched it to his face and eyes, and asked for the intercession of Muhammed, Then the şeyhülislam, grand vezir and other dignitaries indicated by the sultan also kissed the mantle and touched it to their eyes.

 The  casket  containing the tooth of Muhammed

Over the centuries not only was this ceremony held every year, but throughout the year the Koran was continuously chanted in the Pavilion of the Holy Mantle, This was believed to bring about the victory of good and the defeat of evil, During the reign of Sultan Selim
I, the sultan himself was the fortieth of the forty Koran readers who recited from memory. This practice was revived in October 1996.

The letter sent by Probhet Muhammed  to Müseylimet-ül Kezzap

The staff of Moses made from date palm wood which according to the History of the Prophets came from heaven

A sealed bottle containing holy Zemzem water

After Selim's conquest of Egypt, the keys of Mecca and the holy relics passed to the Ottomans. Some of these relics were taken to Istanbul and others placed in the tomb of Muhammed, Over the centuries the Ottoman, sultans and many other individuals sent precious gifts to the tomb.

The hilt of Osman's sword is carved from black stone, and the crossbar is decorated in relief in gold and niello

The sword of Muhammed is 99 cm in length with a gold hilt. Both hilt and crossbar are studded with rubies and turquoises in gold mounts, and one side of the blade is decorated with flowers in relief.

The scabbard hilt of Osman's sword is decorated in gold

During the First World War, when the Turkish garrison withdrew from Medina, the holy relics that were in the tomb were sent to Topkapı Palace for safekeeping, The holy relics which had been taken to Istanbul in the 16th century were kept in various parts of the over the palace centuries, including the Imperial Treasury, the Armourer's Treasury, the Revan Pavilion, the Harem, and from1808 onwards the Privy Chamber. It was Sultan Mahmud II (1808-1839) who allocated this pavilion, which had been the Sultan's privy chamber since the time of Mehmed II (1451-1481), to the holy relics. From then on the Privy Chamber, Which contained the throne room and other royal apartments, became known as the Pavilion of the Holy Mantle. The throne room was the main state room in the building. distinguished by a higher dome. The throne Which stood here was made by Derviş Zilli Mehmed, chief goldsmith to Murad IV (1623-1640).

The white felt cap of Veysel Karani and its green cover

The scabbard of the sword of Muhammed is covered with green velvet embroidered with gold wire flowers

Today the holy mantle and its casket, the holy standard, two swords and abow belonging to the Prophet Muhammed can be seen here. The Destimal Room, which was restored in 1997, was originally used by the pages who waited on the sultan. Here can be seen two ancient manuscripts of the Hümeze and Tekasur suras that are believed to be among the earliest Koran texts, written by revelation scribes, letters written by Muhammed to the false prophet Müseylemetül Kezzab and the governor of Ahsa, the Koran which Osman was reading when he was killed, the stone cauldron of Abraham, the sword of David, the headdress of Veysel Karani, seven hairs from Muhammed's beard, the footprint of the Prophet, the sword of Osman, cases for miniature Korans, relief wood carving of the Aqsa Mosque, bottles of Zemzem water, Kaaba covers, and a handkerchief and block stamp belonging to Joseph.

In the Arzhane, where the sultan used to receive official writs, can today be seen the gold case of Hacer-ül-Esved, the letter sent by Muhammed to Mukavkıs, ruler of the Copts, another footprint of the Prophet, his seal, caskets containing soil from his tomb and a
fragment (now reduced to dust) of his tooth, and hairs from his beard.

Topkapı Palace became a museum in 1924, and the holy relics were placed on public view on 31 August 1962.

* Hilmi Aydın is Keeper of the Holy Relics at Topkapı Palace.

THY Skylife Magazine November 2002 Page 90-96

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