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The cross-cultural relations between the Ottomans and their contemporaneous Islamic states of the Mughals, Uzbeks, and Khans of Crimea have mainly remained a desideratum, obscured by the modern boundaries of a nation-state. An examination of existing communication networks and cultural linkages renders a global dimension to the medieval Islamic empires united by a prevalent literary culture and shared connective systems. The availability of Persian manuscripts of South Asian origin in the Turkish museum, existing diplomatic ties with the Mughals alluded by Naimur Rahman Farooqi (Mughal-Ottoman Relations), and the confrontation with the Safavids indicate that conduits of interactions existed at both the local and state levels. Before the sixteenth century, the language of Ottoman high culture was Persian, which opened up interstices of exchange between Turkey and India. It was only in the late fifteenth century that an Ottoman form of Turkish began to develop, but it did not reduce the popularity of the Persian language in the multicultural and multilingual Ottoman Empire. In the Ottoman Empire, owning illustrated and illuminated manuscripts was a sign of wealth and culture. The most notable book collectors were the elite military class (askeri) and religious scholars (ulema) (Uluc, Çagman). The Ottoman literati also bought and sold texts, and often exchanged them as gifts. Persian literary works are found in almost every book list such as the Ottoman Sultan books, account books (Hesap Defteleri), a confiscation register (Mukhaleffat Kattlan), and a gift register (Hediye Defteleri) in the Topkapi Museum Archives. Arabic and Persian were associated with high Islamic cultural tradition and were the preferred vehicles of science and literature. However, this interaction was not limited to textual circulation; similarities in cultural connectedness and illustrative traditions were also evident. This paper will attempt to discover cultural and material links between the Middle East and South Asia through the lens of textual circulation and its illustrations and highlights the limitation of unearthing the ‘global dimensions’ of a medieval empire.

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