Some Historical Bacground
I am posting some historical bacground. I will post more details on the design and decoration issues as I have more time. Thank you.
A Taste of History on Sultan’s Boat
British traveler John Sanderson who visited İstanbul in 1585, describes imperial Caique as follows: "These caiques are really worth seeing, they are elaborately ornamented. The stern is entirely worked in ivory, ebony and the teeth of hippopotamus.It has 80 oarsmen selected from the best. There are two oarmen at each oar. At each side there are 20 oars. All the oarsmen are in white heavy shirts and wear a red serpus (a kind of cap). While they row the boat they yell often for some reason that I do not know. The Ministers, accompany The Sultan in the same galley, but the mute and the dwarfs of the Palace and very often his wives, follow the Sultan in another caique."
Evliya Celebi narrates the excursions of the Sultan made in the Imperials in the following words: "At the stern of the caique, seated on the bejewelled Throne, under the jewelled cupola, listening to the music of the cura and zurna (wind instruments) and cifte nagra (a drum) contemplating the multi storey villas , the vineyards and orchards, the dockyards on both shores of the golden Horn, the Sultan went cruising to whatever place he desired."
Imperial Boats / The Sultan's Boat: The Ottomans classified boats according to the person using them as well as the purpose of use. There was a hierarchy that determined who could use which boat, the number of oarsmen they could have working and other such details.
At the top of the rank were the Sultan's boats that carried the ruler of the empire, the Sultan. The Sultan was the only person who could own the largest boat (30 meters x 2.5 meters) and have the greatest number of oarsmen . Only he was allowed to travel around the Golden Horn and the Bosphorus on this spectacular boat specifically designed and decorated to show his imperial wealth, power and prestige.
One French aristocrat mentions the Sultan's boat in his writings about Istanbul and describes boats that cut through the water like a sword and were incredibly beautiful; he wrote the highest praise for the "craftsmanship (with) such magnificence" when describing the gold leaf work on the woodcarvings. Reportedly, visitors of that period claimed that the bird statue, a symbol of the empire, decorating the kayik's front was made of solid gold and that the kiosk at the rear (the Sultan's throne) was decorated throughout with precious stones.
The Sultan's outings on this boat were a spectacular event. As the Sultan embarked, canons would be fired from the ships at the port and the maiden's tower as a procession of smaller boats lead the way. People gathered along the seaside would bow down as the Sultan passed.
At the time of Murat III, tiles were also used in the decoration of imperial cabins. In the Firman sent to the Governor of Iznik the Sultan orders; "To build a new imperial caique for our private use, we have ordered with a Firman, two thousand and three hundred pieces of Iznik tiles in Turquoise color, which are required to adorn the stern of the imperial caique."