The so-called Türkenkammer (Turkish Chamber), originally a separated area, was located at the end of the Court Amoury. The collection of »Turcica«, which Archduke Ferdinand II assembled, corresponded with the »Turkish fashion« which was much-loved in the sixteenth century. It was the interplay with fear and admiration which caused European princes to collect Oriental or Oriental-styled objects.
The objects in the form of Ottoman armour and military equipment and luxury items, like saddles, arrows and quivers, sabres, shields and helmets, were pieces of booty from the battlefield. These were simultaneously trophies and mementos of military battles against the then much-feared Ottomans, who had spread their territory up to the borders of the Habsburg’s realm. In 1556 Ferdinand II himself led a military expansion campaign against the Turks in Hungary. Under his command the troops were able to provide the fortress of Sziget with necessary provisions and to repel the besiegers.
The fascination for Oriental art and culture could also be seen in the courtly festivals and tournaments. The embossed, colourfully set iron masks decorated with hair from the time of Ferdinand II’s governorship in Bohemia (1547–1564) bear the characteristics of Hussars and »Moors«. They were used together with the painted wooden shields, or targes (Tartschen), at the propagandistic »Hussar Tournaments«. At these tournaments the Hussars embodied the Christian knights of the Occident and fought against the »Moors« who were part of the Ottoman realm and therewith symbolized the Orient.
A special rarity is a series of leather mosaics. They are among the only preserved original Ottoman objects of this kind and are already listed in the oldest inventory of the Ambras collections from 1596. These Ambras leather mosaics represent an essential and absolutely precious part of the museum's collection.