Cane Handle

Location: Turkey, Istanbul

Materials: gold and silver, translucent champlevé enamel, diamonds, rubies and an emerald

Dimensions: height 7.9 cm

Accession Number: ISL 949

Other Notes:

The hybrid style of this cane handle, which combines elements of European (the applied gem-set garland) and Eastern (the champlevé enamel) decoration, suggests that it was made in a location that was at the crossroads of such influences, namely Istanbul. European goldsmiths and watchmakers had been established in Galata, the European quarter of Istanbul, since the mid 17th century. Active in both manufacture and restoration, these craftsmen inevitably modified their work to accommodate local demand.

A Qur’an binding, bearing the tuğra of Mahmud I (r. 1730-54), in the Topkapi Treasury, most probably made in a European workshop in Istanbul, demonstrates this adaptability. Within the traditional format of Islamic leather bindings, European decorative motifs, including rather old-fashioned strap-work, are incorporated. The corners and spine are decorated in champlevé enamel with stylised flowers and leaves – similar to those scrolling around this cane handle. This decoration, although alluding to Mughal enamelwork, is a European evocation and as such further demonstrates the fusion of styles that occurred in the Istanbul workshops during the 18th century.


Haydn Williams, Enamels of the World: 1700-2000 The Khalili Collections, London 2009, cat. 48, p. 98.