Ottoman culture evolved over several centuries as the ruling administration of the Turks absorbed, adapted and modified the cultures of conquered lands and their peoples. As the Ottoman Empire expanded it assimilated the culture of numerous regions under its rule and beyond, being particularly influenced by Byzantium, the Arab culture of artistic development of children Islamic Middle East, and the Persian culture of Iran. Nevertheless, a number of genres – the travelogue, the political treatise and biography – were current. From the 19th century, the increasing influence of the European novel, and particularly that of the French novel, began to be felt.
The most significant figure in the field, the 16th-century architect and engineer Mimar Sinan, was a Muslim convert of Armenian descent, having a background in the Janissaries. Calligraphy had a prestigious status under the Ottomans, its traditions having been shaped by the work of Abbasid calligrapher Yaqut al-Musta’simi of Baghdad, whose influence had spread across the Islamic world, al-Musta’simi himself possibly being of Anatolian origin. The Diwani script is a cursive and distinctively Ottoman style of Arabic calligraphy developed in the 16th and early 17th centuries. Noted Ottoman calligraphers include Seyyid Kasim Gubari, Şeyh Hamdullah, Ahmed Karahisari, and Hâfiz Osman.
The Ottoman tradition of painting miniatures, to illustrate manuscripts or used in dedicated albums, was heavily influenced by the Persian art form, though it also included elements of the Byzantine tradition of illumination and painting. 17th-century Ottoman velvet cushion cover, with stylized carnation motifs. Floral motifs were common in Ottoman art. The art of carpet weaving was particularly significant in the Ottoman Empire, carpets having an immense importance both as decorative furnishings, rich in religious and other symbolism, and as a practical consideration, as it was customary to remove one’s shoes in living quarters. Hereke carpets were of particularly high status, being made of silk or a combination of silk and cotton, and intricately knotted. The Ottoman Empire was noted for the quality of its gold- and silversmiths, and particularly for the jewelry they produced.