In the nakkaşhane, the imperial Ottoman scriptorium, nearly sixty illustrated manuscripts were produced during Süleyman's reign. These include genealogies, biographies, and religious, poetic, and literary texts in Persian and Turkish, as well as albums containing Turkish, Persian, and European specimens of painting, drawing, and calligraphy.
The Ottomans excelled in the production of illustrated historical texts, and within this genre, the classical Ottoman style of illustration was established. Although the tradition of commissioning histories was not unique to the Islamic world, no other dynasty equaled the Ottoman in the sheer quantity of narratives produced. These illustrated works included general histories of the dynasty, biographies of individiual sultans, and narratives of specific events such as military campaigns and festive occasions.
The first illustrated history was a Şehname (Book of Kings) by Melik Ümmü, written c. 1500 for Sultan Beyazid II (r. 1481-1512). During the long rule of Süleyman I (r. 1520-66), Ottoman historiography flourished with magnificient works such as the Süleymanname of Fethullah 'Arif Çelebi ('Arifi'), a five-volume history completed in 1558. The illustrations contained in the fifth volume, which covers thirty-five years of Süleyman's reign, were painted by the sultan's senior artist and his colleagues. These works, which gloriously recorded contemporary events such as ceremenoies, parades, and battles, served as prototypes for Ottoman artists for at least two centuries.