The placing of a turban on top of the grave of the deceased is a practice which is best known from the Ottoman period. Many of the interior cenotaphs have a cloth turban placed on the highpoint, while exterior Ottoman cemeteries have carved turbans surmounting a number of the gravestones. The cemetery at Bursa, for example, contains numerous examples, the earliest of which date back to the early fifteenth century (Ahmet Ertug et al., Reflections of Paradise, Silks and Tiles from Ottoman Bursa, Istanbul, 1995, pp.174-75 and 178-80). The ornamentation of the headstones was mostly based on social standing - they would be coiled differently depending on the function or title of the wearer.
This kafesî type of turban dates to the early 19th century. The wearers were often leading officers of the Ottoman Financial Administration, among them the nisanci (the head of the chancery), the reisülküttâb (the chief of scribes), the defter emîni (the commissioner of the register) as well as the chief officers of the scribal departments.
We would like to thank Dr. Selen Etingu for her assistance in cataloguing this lot and the following.