Ottoman art is similar to early Islamic art because of the use of geometric patterns and the emphasis on decorative arts that have practical uses, such as textiles and vases. Ottoman art is known for using variations on the arabesque, a stylized leafy or floral pattern.
At its peak, the Ottoman Empire stretched through parts of Europe, Asia and North Africa. As a result, its artistic influences were diverse. A major influence was Iran, which was a center of Islamic art. Trade with distant countries such as China also helped influence Ottoman art.
Islamic art often tries to avoid the depiction of humans or animals, so they developed the arabesque. This was often used to decorate dishes, buildings and clothing. The Ottomans adopted this tradition, although their floral and plant designs were influenced by their trade with China. They also incorporated these elaborate patterns into rugs, which were also a popular artistic medium in early Islamic art.
The use of elaborate calligraphy is also found in both Ottoman and early Islamic art. Muslim artists traditionally viewed calligraphy as one of the highest forms of art because written Arabic was the original language of the Koran. The Ottomans continued this tradition. They produced many artistic illuminated versions of the Koran, as well as other documents, both religious and secular. Skilled Ottoman scribes sometimes used webbed parchment or other difficult mediums to showcase their calligraphy.