Caught in a Whirlwind: Cultural History of Ottoman Baghdad as Reflected in Illustrated Manuscripts
By Melis Taner
2020, Brill, 978-9-00441-269-9, $154 hb.
Reviewed by Sophie Kazan on March 12, 2021
Caught in a Whirlwind describes the short decade of relative peace following the Treaty of Constantinople in 1590 between the warring Safavid Persians, led by Abbas the Great, and the Sunni Muslim Ottoman Empire, led by Sultan Ahmed I. Located in the disputed Mesopotamian and Southern Caucasus territory, Baghdad became the site of bitter conflict. Melis Taner observes some of the manuscripts created during this short decade of intense creativity. Like an academic detective, she considers what individual manuscripts reveal about the two empires’ heated rivalry, the creativity of individual artists, and the visual culture and patronage at the time. Taner’s mastery of her subject as well as the detail and artistry of the illuminations provide tremendous insight into a rare period of creativity under pressure.