It is twenty metres long, eight metres wide and six metres high: It is the seventeenth-century tent of silk and gilded leather, today the highlight of the Türckische Cammer in the Dresden Residenzschloss (Royal Palace). The tent came to Dresden as early as 1729, at a time when numerous European courts were amassing collections of spoils coming from the Turkish Wars. Today the Türckische Cammer in Dresden is one of the most significant collections of Ottoman art outside Turkey. This is due in large part to the extraordinarily good documentation of the history of the objects as well as to the many exhibits from the sixteenth century, which can be found nowhere else in such abundance.
The collection grew, however, not so much from wars as from diplomatic gifts, informed purchases and commissioned works. More than anyone, August the Strong loved the orient: As a Saxon elector and later king of Poland, he often staged himself as a sultan, sent members of his staff on shopping expeditions to Constantinople, and even imported camels and Arabian horses with richly decorated riding gear for the baroque feasts at his court.
Since 2010, approximately 600 objects from the sixteenth to the nineteenth centuries have been on show in Dresden’s Residenzschloss in a space measuring 750 square metres. Alongside two impressive tents, opulently decorated bridles, saddles, helmets and weapons delight the eye of the beholder, as do four collapsible drinking cups made of leather: These examples of the formerly mass-produced item have only survived in Dresden. The darkened rooms and the eight life-size horses carved of wood underscore the effect of the utterly unique objects, making a visit to the Türckische Cammer a very special experience.