Diplomatic gifts played a crucial role in the political relationship between Europe and the Arab and Ottoman world.
Diplomatic gifts, exchanged to cement the complex political relations between the Arab and Ottoman world and Europe, had a significant symbolic role to play and so were selected very carefully. As markers of power, wealth, luxury and sophistication, gifts were intended to convey clear messages about the status, prowess and trustworthiness of the giver while at the same time subtly impressing if not intimidating the recipient. The quality and extent of the gifts given reflected closely the interactions that were sought or that the gift-giver hoped to maintain. At the same time, gifts were chosen to showcase either what the best national industries and craftsmen had to offer or to pander directly to the recipient’s tastes and predilections. Highly decorated weapons were among the most popular gifts exchanged. Other particularly favoured items included timepieces, bejewelled medals and artefacts, richly caparisoned horses, textiles, items of clothing, carpets, and even national antiquities.