‘Such decoration need not fill a large building; it can bestow the grandeur of empire on even a tent.’
The visual language of power need not be overt. Art has been used in ingeniously subtle ways to communicate a sense of the powerful. Elaborate architectural decoration, for example, by surrounding the viewer with a dazzling array of exquisite ornament, creates an aesthetic ambience reflective of the power of the patron. Such decoration need not fill a large building; it can bestow the grandeur of empire on even a tent. Spectacular displays of craftsmanship, too, form part of this visual language. When the sultan or his officials wore precious garments bedecked with elaborately worked ornament, whether actual symbols of rank (such as aigrettes) or simply useful accoutrements (like the links of a belt), the display of the wealth and skill at their disposal implicitly proclaimed their power.