Culture & Arts

I Was Born Playing The Oud

Article: Hasan Mert Kaya Photo: Ahmet Ferhat Akben Date: Monday, 31 March 2014

NECATI ÇELIK WHO IS ONE OF THE PERFORMERS IN THE CULTURE AND TOURISM MINISTRY’S ISTANBUL STATE TURKISH MUSIC ENSEMBLE, IS ALSO ONE OF THE TURKEY’S AND WORLD'S LEADING OUD PLAYERS AND TEACHERS. WE TALKED WITH HIM ABOUT THE OUD, ONE OF THE FAVOURITE INSTRUMENTS OF TURKISH MUSIC.

You are celebrating 40 years as a performer. As someone who has been at the top of his art for 40 years, can you tell us what Turkish music means to you?
I believe that music is a language, like Turkish, English, Arabic. Not everyone can speak the language of music - that good fortune is not granted to everyone - but everyone can understand it. For me this is God’s greatest gift. What can be expressed in this language are not things that can be expressed in the language I use when speaking or writing. That is why God gave us this abstract language. I have seen that through music I can describe even the most difficult-to-describe feelings to people I don’t know and have not formally met, people who don’t speak the same language, eat the same food or believe in the same religion as I do. My teacher Cahid Gözkân used to say, “There is unity in music.” When music begins, noise stops, conversation ceases, the affairs of the world come to a halt, and everyone pricks up his ears.

Can you tell us your story? How did you get involved with the oud?
I started playing music in Konya, first on the bağlama (a stringed instrument). Of course, I was very small then. My father had just died. There was a wedding in our village and we went to that village from Konya as guests at the wedding. When the musicians arrived (saz, bağlama, cura players) they sent the children outside, because the men wanted to sing and play among themselves. Since my father had been a prominent person in the village, I was treated as a guest and allowed to stay.
I remember waiting for a lull, then grabbing one of the instruments and going outside and starting to play it. I was able to play; it was even easy for me! It was my first encounter with the instrument. Later, my older brother brought home a bağlama. I’ll never forget that night. We played the Turkish folk song, “A light burned on the mountaintop / I went in pursuit of my beloved.”
In Konya, folk music is played on classical instruments like the kanun (zither) and the oud (lute). The bağlama and, especially, the divan saz (a larger version of the bağlama) are used as well, but the oud and the kanun are the main instruments. I must have gotten enthusiastic about them and started playing the oud. The oud brought me in touch with the Mevlânâ Commemoration held every year in Konya. In 1973, as a young man of 18, I joined the masters who came for the festivities. Great musical masters would come for those annually held ceremonies, and I would sit at their feet for a week. Then I would spend the whole next year trying to digest everything I had learned in that one week. The weeks I spent at those ceremonies were like a regular school for me. I can’t begin to mention the names of all the teachers from whom I benefited there, but Cinuçen Tanrıkorur of course has a special place for me.

What makes the oud different from other instruments in your opinion? Why did you choose the oud?
The oud has a very deep, full, satisfying tone. It’s an instrument that gives me satisfaction. There’s also the ease of being able to play it without looking, which facilitates singing. With the oud, a person can sing and play at the same time. It can also be used to make all kinds of music. I’ve even played jazz on the oud twice at Babylon (an Istanbul jazz club)! But I didn’t consciously think about any of that when I chose the oud. I just felt as if I had been born playing it!

When you look back at your 40 years in music, what has been your greatest reward?
If I have been able to serve Turkish music, that is my reward, and that is all I need. Attaining that honor is enough for me. I also love teaching and will always be proud of the students I have trained.

What is your overriding passion in life?
Expressing emotions through music… As I said at the start, music is a language. My teacher, Cinuçen Bey, called it “the language of the angels”. It is the language that best expresses human emotions. After learning this language, it becomes easier to express emotions.

Necati Hoca does not take any money from his students and he has even put up video lessons on the internet free of charge for students who are too far away to come to him. He tells us about his exceptional deeds with these words; "I cannot take money for something I myself learned without paying any money. There is a reduction in the number of artists today but a proliferation of celebrities. In other words, anyone who is famous is assumed to be an artist. We need to distinguish between the two."

Classical Turkish Music

Article: Celaleddin Çelik Date: Monday, 31 March 2014

IMAGINE SOME SLOW, UNEXCITING, BORING OLD MUSIC. NOSTALGIC, SOPORIFIC MUSIC SUNG BY A LARGE CHORUS WITH INCOMPREHENSIBLE LYRICS. BUT THAT’S NOT THE MUSIC I’M TALKING ABOUT! CLASSICAL TURKISH MUSIC IS BRIGHT, EXPRESSIVE, EXCITING, ALIVE AND FULL OF FEELING.

Our traditional music, widely yet erroneously referred to as "Turkish Art Music", is the sublime music of a magnificent civilization. It would be more correct to call it "Turkish Classical Music", or simply "Ottoman Music". There are even those who prefer to call it “Istanbul music”, given that Islamic art and civilization rose to the pinnacle of perfection in the Ottoman capital. But this music is unique neither to Istanbul, nor to the Ottoman palace. The famed composer Dede Efendi was the son of a man who managed an Ottoman hamam, and Kömürcüzâde Hafız Mehmed Efendi and Basmacı Abdi Efendi were both from the artisan class. Figures like Edirneli Zurnazen Ahmed Çelebi, Lavtacı Hristo Ağa, Diyarbekirli Mahmud Ağa describe the diversity and richness of those who contributed to this music.
Ottoman art strove for an exalted form of beauty, what is termed in the West “sublime art”. Like Ottoman architecture, calligraphy, illumination and poetry, Ottoman music was music that aspired to abstract beauty, music that speaks to us from beyond time and this world, music that gives wings to the human soul.

MUSIC AS A WAY OF EDIFICATION
Classical Turkish music is not a form of entertainment, but neither is it a kind of dead, lifeless music that numbs the listener to sleep. Called “the glorious art of music” by our forefathers, it was regarded as a form of edification and an expression of lofty ideas.

FRUIT OF THE OTTOMAN EMPIRE
Ottoman music is part and parcel of the overall picture of Ottoman civilization, and one of its most precious fruits. With its songs and folk ballads, its military bands, its sacred chants and rituals, as well as its lullabies, classical Turkish music is the manifestation of a great civilization - a high claim grounded in its having its own way of thinking and outlook on life, at the heart of which lies the principle of the Unity of God. It is a unique and original sound erected on a foundation that exalts Unity and that discerns and expresses Oneness among the many. It is a music of faith and love in which military bands were employed in the “minor battles” against the enemy, and divine chants and sacred music in the “great battle” against egoism and self-absorption.

DIFFERENT FROM WESTERN MUSIC
Let us speak briefly about the unique character and properties of this music. The sound system of Turkish music is quite different from that of Western music, in which whole notes  are divided into two half-tones, as represented by the black keys between two white keys on the piano. In our music, the whole tone is generally accepted as being divided not into two but into nine intervals. The octave has 12 tones in the Western system but 43 ‘perde’ or micro-tones in Turkish music. In other words, if we were to build a piano for Turkish music, it would have to have at least eight black keys between every two white keys! These “intervals”, which do not exist in Western music, are what give Turkish music its special character. They are also the reason why Turkish music cannot be played on Western instruments.

TURKISH ART MUSIC VS TURKISH FOLK MUSIC
Turkish folk music and Turkish classical music arose from the same source and have always influenced each other. They are merely products of the same musical culture performed in different venues. Both have the same sound system as well as the same structure in terms of “makams” (modes or scales), usûl (rhythm) and form. The distinction between Turkish art music and Turkish folk music did not even exist in Ottoman times. Terms like “Alla Turca” (or Alafranga in Turkish) and monophonic versus polyphonic were invented to express the cultural contrast between East and West.

WHAT ARE “MAKAM” AND “USÛL”?
Without getting too technical, we might say that the best way of defining the word “makam” is to compare it to a taste. There is a certain flavor created by certain sound intervals and melodic lines that we could call the “makam”, a bit like the modes of early Western music. These makams, each one of which has a different emotional feel to it - a different “mood” - are not strict rules that limit the composer but rather are what make it possible for a certain “taste” to be felt, and as such they are perhaps the most characteristic trait of this music. There are 587 different makams in Turkish music. As for “usûl”, that is the term used for the rhythmic patterns created by the various beats and time divisions, and there are 80 of them in Turkish music!

IS TURKISH MUSIC REALLY MONOPHONIC?
Church music organized hymns around specific intervals so that everyone could sing them in unison, and it developed a special technique for doing this. Western classical music, which was born of church music, is a magnificent kind of music in which different melodies are played, one on top of the other in a harmonic whole, by musical instruments, including the human voice. Structurally, this music exhibits a vertical development, comparable to that of cathedral architecture, which is created by playing simple melodies simultaneously.
Classical Turkish music is an aesthetic monument which, like other forms of eastern music, does not employ harmony or polyphony but in which rich melodic structure and variety have pride of place. Leaving aside the shortcomings and impoverishment inherently implied by the term “monophonic”, it is high time the unique richness of this splendid civilization was recognized.
Turkish music was never a music widely performed outside the military milieu and the dervish lodge. It is a music performed not by mammoth choruses but rather by small groups of one instrument of each kind, on the order of chamber music.  

PATRONS OF TURKISH MUSIC
The Ottoman palace perpetuated this age-old tradition of music among the Turks by bringing together and supporting its most distinguished performers, as it did calligraphers and poets. In the artists it patronized, artistic excellence was always the primary consideration with no distinctions of race, language, religion or sect, thanks to which foreign and minority artists were able to make enormous contributions. The societies that were part of the Islamic cultural milieu exchanged lyrics and instruments and even inter-married.
Besides being the sultan, Selim III was also a great man of music who played the tanbour (long-necked lute) and the ney (reed flute) as well as composing. There were a number of master tanbour players in the palace during his reign, but his own tanbour teacher was a Jewish composer by the name of Tanburi İsak Fresco Romano, and a contest held by Selim III to come up with a specifically Turkish form of musical notation was won by a member of the Armenian community, Hamparsum Limonciyan, even though his main rival in the competition was, like the sultan himself, a member of the Mevlevi order of dervishes by the name of Nâsır Abdülbâki Dede.
There is no one-to-one correspondence between the development of Ottoman music and the political and economic history of the Ottoman state. While there are few composers or compositions from the most brilliant periods of Ottoman history, the greatest musicians and composers emerged in the 18th and 19th centuries during periods of decline.

TITANS OF TURKISH MUSIC
Countless composers and performers have scaled the heights of this music from past to present. There must be at least as many unknown composers who have left no trace as there are the hundreds of figures who created this magnificent tableau. Among those giants are Buhûrizâde Mustafa Itrî (d.1712), Hafız Post (d. 1693), Seyyid Nuh (d.1714), Zaharya (d.1740), İsmail Dede Efendi (d.1846), Zekâi Dede Efendi (d.1897) and last but not least Tanbûrî Cemil Bey (d.1916).

THE TEACHING OF TURKISH MUSIC
Turkish music is taught through reading musical notation but from teacher to student in a method known as “meşk”, in which the teacher provides the student with a model to imitate and the two of them practice it together. The teacher passes his own work along to his student, who learns and executes it exactly as it came from the lips of the master. Students of the great masters like Niyazi Sayın, Kani Karaca, Alâeddin Yavaşça, Bekir Sıdkı Sezgin, Necdet Yaşar, Cinuçen Tanrıkorur and İhsan Özgen continue to train pupils today in the tradition they launched.

Ours is the music of a civilization. We created our own original sound by giving and taking sounds based on “Tevhid”, or the Unity of God. Our music is an expression of tranquility, edification and love, as is our civilization itself. SAVAŞ BARKÇIN

What makes music worthwhile are its forms of expression and the emotions, ideas, concepts and approaches it conveys. Turkish classical music expresses sublime emotions and ideas through a flawless approach and a refined aesthetic. This is a perfect kind of music, thoroughly mystical and expressive of “aşk” (love). TIMUÇİN ÇEVİKOĞLU

ITRÎ
The world knows Itrî for his Nât-ı Şerif in the Rast mode, which is recited at the beginning of the Mevlevî ceremony written by the great mystic, Mevlânâ, himself. But his Segâh Tekbir and Segâh Salât are also among the rare works that bring the shared cultural code of Islamic civilization to the present generation through music.

If we say that classical Turkish music is not “today’s music”, we are forfeiting another point of communication with our own past. Even though the people of today may be living in another culture, in a different atmosphere, they can still derive pleasure from this music. What’s more, they will find in it a magical key to understanding the past. MEHMET GÜNTEKİN

Our music is one of the centuries-old branches of the great plane tree that is our civilization. To understand that music better and appreciate its splendor, we need to remember it in the context of the many other components that make up our culture. Not only music but all the components of our culture exemplify all the different means we have developed for getting closer to God. Our greatest achievement in the days to come will be to take that glorious past into the future without letting it fall to the ground. MURAT SALİM TOKAÇ

Turkish music attracts extraordinary interest all over the world for its sounds, its makams, its rhythms and its instruments. This interest leads people to study and learn about the other areas of a culture they have come to know through music. That the sound of the kemençe (small fiddle with three strings) was chosen for Ben Affleck’s Oscar-winning film Argo, for which Alexandre Desplat wrote the music, means to me that fabulous music can be shared with everyone no loss of its original character. DERYA TÜRKAN

VENUES FOR TURKISH MUSIC
1-HARBIYE MILITARY MUSEUM
The military band that was an indispensable element of Turkish warfare from the time of the Huns was a psychological weapon aimed at instilling fear in the enemy from afar. In peacetime, concerts were given by this band, which was renamed the Mehterhane by Sultan Mehmed the Conqueror. The sources of this music were the airs performed since 1361 by a large ensemble of pipes and drums at the traditional oiled wrestling contests at Kırkpınar in Thrace. Starting in the 18th century, Mehter music sparked a fashion among western composers to compose operas, symphonies and concertos in the style of the Turkish military band. Grétry and Haydn were the pioneers of this style, dubbed “alla turca”, reached its apogee in Mozart and Beethoven. In 1828, Sultan Mahmud II abolished the Janissary Corps and the Mehter band and its repertoire. To hear Mehter music today, follow the programs of the Military Museum in Harbiye, Istanbul. Museum is open to public visits every day from 9 AM to 5 PM except monday and tuesday.

2-THE GELIBOLU MEVLEVIHANE
The Mevlevi music that accompanies the whirling ceremony is regarded as the pinnacle of Turkish classical music. These works, which, formally speaking, are long and complex in structure, performed as an unaccompanied vocal solo with a eulogy to the Prophet Mohammad, continue with an instrumental prelude and, following a ritual in four parts, close with a final instrumental solo and a chant from the Quran, followed by a number of different prayer-like sections. Even the great non-Mevlevi composers could not refrain from composing such music, which they enriched with mind-boggling beauty. Circulated orally during periods when training in Turkish music was interrupted, Mevlevi music performed a great pedagogical role for many musicians. The Gelibolu Mevlevihane is a venue where Mevlevi music is performed regularly. If you go to a performance, be sure to have a look at the newly revamped museum.

3-THE PALACE SCHOOL
Founded in 1363, the Enderun, or Palace School, evolved into a full-fledged university in the time of Mehmed the Conqueror. Music of course occupied a prominent place among lessons in poetry, law, logic, geography, astronomy, calligraphy, illumination, paper cutting, painting and archery. The top composers were trained at this learned institution, where students came from all over the Islamic world to be educated, and those composers then taught new pupils at the same school.

4-DEDE EFENDI HOUSE
This charming house in the Cankurtaran quarter of Sultanahmet was the home of the Turkish titan among composers, Hammamizade İsmail Dede Efendi. The Society for the Preservation of Historic Turkish Houses regularly holds Turkish music concerts at this venue, which is also its headquarters. You can tour the house, now a museum, where the great composer lived and perhaps hear some of his compositions.

5-ÜSKÜDAR MUSIC SOCIETY
The “Emin Ongan Üsküdar Music Society”, who trained countless performers and musicians in Turkish art music is active today with its choruses for various age groups and levels.

6-OMAR
Established for the purpose of studying the history of Ottoman music, classifying the works and making the collection thus created easily accessible, the “Istanbul University Ottoman Period Music Performance and Research Center” (OMAR) has been active since January 2012. Besides its work to perform a key archival function for Turkish classical music, it also provides a joint platform for discussion for faculty members and academics.

Acoustic And Electronic Music On The Same Stage

Article: Melek Cevahiroğlu Ömür Sezgin Çevik Uğur Dervish Photo: Abdullah Özbudak Date: Sunday, 30 March 2014

KITARO IS A CELEBRATED MASTER OF NEW AGE MUSIC WHO BELIEVES IN THE MAGICAL POWER OF THE HUMAN VOICE. HE IS KNOWN IN TURKEY FOR THE MUSIC HE COMPOSED FOR THE SILK ROAD DOCUMENTARY. WE ASKED HIM ABOUT HIS MUSIC AND HIS FEELINGS ABOUT PERFORMING.

Your music has a different sound. What are the sources you draw on?
When I was a young man back in the sixties, I listened to rock’n’roll and a lot of different music. Then I gave it up. More than somebody who listens to music, I wanted to be somebody who produces music. The listener listens to a lot of things, but that’s not for me, because when I start composing after listening to a lot of songs, all the sounds I use are inspired by what I’ve been listening to, so it’s not really “my” music. I want to produce my own music. That’s why I stopped listening to music almost completely after I started making music. I am westernized in terms of instruments and technique. But I’m more focused on the psychological and spiritual aspect of the business. On the really important things…

You’ve composed film and documentary music and in it you stand out as Kitaro, not part of the project. In other words, the music is something that could be listened to on the radio, for example, even without the film.
Film music has a visual aspect. But the two sounds are distinguishable and you can tell the difference between my music and film music. Even if there is a visual element, the audience should be able to say that the music is Kitaro’s. That’s also why I concentrate on the deeper aspects. To give you an example: I composed the music for Oliver Stone’s documentary, “Heaven and Earth”. I didn’t follow the film frame by frame but rather preserved the melodic line. Stone was in Vietnam at the time and he sent me a fax: “Hi Kitaro, Congratulations!”

What has the symphony orchestra added to your music? What do you feel when you are performing on stage?
On the Eastern European tour the Bucharest Symphony Orchestra accompanied us. That was really nice. The orchestra is acoustic but our sound is electronic. As different as oil and water. Even though it’s difficult to balance the two, it enhances the communication. I love to go on stage because there’s an exchange of energy between our performance and the audience.

Are you interested in any other art forms besides music?
I take photographs. I’ve published a few photograph albums. I’m also interested in calligraphy. And I’m interested in Butoh, the traditional Japanese dance. 

Modernity Through Eastern Eyes

Date: Sunday, 30 March 2014

CONTEMPORARY ART FROM AZERBAIJAN AND ITS NEIGHBORING COUNTRIES IS COMING TO ART LOVERS IN BAKU.

The latest works of 16 artists from Azerbaijan, Georgia, Iran and Russia are coming together in an exhibition of contemporary art, Love me, Love me not. Featured in the show, which was curated by Dina Nasser-Khadivi, are paintings, videos and installations that highlight Azerbaijan’s rapid transition to modernity. You can see the show at Baku’s Zaha Hadid-designed Heydar Aliyev Center from April 3 through May 25.

40 Years From The Pen Of Selçuk Demi̇rel

Date: Sunday, 30 March 2014

THE WORKS OF TURKISH CARTOONIST AND ILLUSTRATOR SELÇUK DEMIREL ARE COMING TOGETHER IN A RETROSPECTIVE.

A selection of cartoons that appeared in the press between 1974 and 2004 by Selçuk Demirel, who has been working in Paris since 1978, are being exhibited in a show titled  “A Vol d’Oiseau” (As the Crow Flies). You will discover the artist’s unique outlook on the events of the last forty years in this retrospective on Selçuk Demirel, who brings major world happenings and political and social turning points to his cartoons. You can view the drawings of Selçuk Demirel at the Istanbul French Culture Center from April 2 through August 31.

SELÇUK DEMİREL
The works of Selçuk Demirel, who has published more than 40 books and albums of drawings, have appeared in publications like Cumhuriyet, Yeni Yüzyıl and Milliyet in Turkey and Le Monde, The Washington Post, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Time and Business Week abroad.

Simultaneous Exhibitions At Pera

Date: Sunday, 30 March 2014

PICASSO: ENGRAVINGS AND CERAMICS FROM THE HOUSE OF HIS BIRTH AND AURORA: CONTEMPORARY NORDIC GLASS ART AWAIT VISITORS IN PERA.

A selection of engravings, ceramics and personal objects from the house in which Pablo Picasso was born and the Museo Casa Natal Collection in Malaga, and Aurora: Contemporary Nordic Glass Art , featuring 51 pieces by 25 world-famous artists, can be seen at Beyoğlu’s Pera Museum through April 20.

Patron Saint Of Istanbul Portrayed In New Novel

Article: Hasan Mert Kaya Date: Sunday, 30 March 2014

PROF. DR. İSKENDER PALA TELLS THE STORY OF ABU AYYUB AL-ANSARI IN HIS LATEST NOVEL, MIHMANDAR (THE GOOD HOST). WE HAD A PLEASANT CHAT WITH HIM ABOUT THE BOOK.

How did the idea to write a novel about Abu Ayyub al-Ansari come about?
We have heroes in Turkey that young people especially could take as models in their lives. These people however are not well known and not really part of our mental world. They don’t occupy our minds much in that sense, and this gives rise to identity problems. Abu Ayyub al-Ansari (Eyüp Sultan in Turkish) is one of the foremost symbolic figures of our spiritual milieu. A personality whose name is known to almost all of us but whose life has hardly been examined. In the novel I attempt to rectify that situation to some extent.

What was Abu Ayyub al-Ansari’s connection with Istanbul?
First of all, Abu Ayyub al-Ansari was one of the Companions of the Prophet Muhammad and one of the Ansar (people of Medina who helped the Prophet after his flight from Mecca). A blessed man who hosted the Prophet in his home for six months, as well as a great warrior who took part in the Arab campaign to conquer Istanbul and lost his life in the struggle for the city. Abu Ayyub al-Ansari occupies a very important place in the Istanbul hierarchy. The Ottoman state restored Eyüp, which was a small town on the outskirts of the city, and encouraged building and settlement there. Abu Ayyub al-Ansari himself was an exemplary servant; therefore, almost all the Ottoman sultans also paid homage to him, some of them by penning calligraphy, others by erecting fountains in his name. The Girding of the Sword ceremony was also held at Eyüp.

How did you prepare for writing the novel?
For all my novels, I always visit the place where the story is set. For my Barbarossa novel I went to Italy and Spain and toured the Mediterranean region. For Mihmandar I went to Mecca and from there to Medina, where Abu Ayyub al-Ansari made his home. I sat cross-legged on the floor, opened my computer and contemplated the Tomb of the Prophet, and the story simply came to me. Then I handed it over to my editors.

Can you give us a hint about your new work?
It’s still too early to say, but I would like to write something about the Century of Felicity, or period in which the Prophet Muhammad lived. I’d like to perpetuate that spiritual climate and pass it along to my readers.

Luz Casal in Istanbul

Date: Sunday, 30 March 2014

THE VELVET VOICE OF SPANISH MUSIC, LUZ CASAL IS COMING TO ISTANBUL ART LOVERS ONCE AGAIN.

The artist, who is coming to Istanbul on a world tour to promote her new album, “Alma”, which was recorded in Los Angeles, will be performing new songs from the album as well as the top songs of her 30-year career at Cemal Reşit Rey Concert Hall on April 21. Visit www.biletix.com  to find out more about the concert and purchase tickets.

Heart Of Music Beats In Ankara

Date: Sunday, 30 March 2014

THE INTERNATIONAL ANKARA MUSIC FESTIVAL IS ADDING COLOR TO THE CITY THROUGH MUSIC AND DANCE, APRIL 4 TO 20.

In its 31st year, the festival is bringing music lovers together with soloists and ensembles from a broad region stretching from Russia to Venezuela. Prominent artists trained in Turkey and pursuing careers abroad will also be coming to art lovers at the festival, which boasts a program rich in classical music, chamber music, world music and dance. For information about the festival: www.ankarafestival.com

From A Word To A Civilization The Waqf

Date: Friday, 28 February 2014

THE THOUSAND-YEAR-LONG ISLAMIC PERIOD OF TURKISH CIVILIZATION IS BASED ON THE INSTITUTION OF THE CHARITABLE FOUNDATION, AN INSTITUTION MADE UP OF THREE COMPONENTS: CHARITY, DONATED PROPERTIES, AND WAQFS.

Khairât is the plural of khayr, a Quranic concept meaning charity. “Every tribe and every people has their own way and method of doing things.” God commands, “Be zealous in doing good things; surpass each other in doing good.” (Quran, II/148) The Turks made that command the basic principle of their civilization, perceiving as charity every act and idea that fosters tranquility and contentment. Every virtuous and benevolent act was considered a good deed, from greeting people with a smile to establishing the virtuous institutions that were conceived and partially realized by al-Farabî (ca. 872-951) and raised to a pinnacle by the Ottomans. Such acts, which I term systematic good works, include all the structures that surrounded a great mosque, such as schools, and dervish lodges, hospitals, soup kitchens, fountains and drinking fountains, caravanserais, tombs, graveyards and the like, in other words, organizations of civil society that served people gratis from the cradle to the grave. To complete the picture, the founders had shops, inns, baths, markets, bazaars and houses erected. Flower gardens, truck gardens and fields, even whole villages, were donated, thus constituting the second component of the waqf concept. The term waqf refers to the act of regulating by law the relations between good deeds and the properties donated. Good deeds constitute its philosophy and objective at both the intellectual and the phenomenal level, donations constitute the means by which that objective is perpetuated, and the waqf forms the legal underpinning and conditions. The written document in which all these things are recorded is the endowment deed. During the Islamic period of Turkish history, cities were developed by adding green areas to the sites of these good deeds based on a balance between faith, thought and action in harmony with their surroundings and without harm to the natural environment. The appearance of hundreds of Muslim Turkish cities from Kashgar to Sarajevo was a concrete expression of the way Turks conceived the relationship between nature, man and God through good works. Given that civilizations are made up of the spiritual and material integrity of their cities, and that Islamic period Turkish cities were also characterized by systematic spiritual and material good works, it would not be far from the truth to claim that our civilization arose and evolved out of a single word.

From Istanbul To Bahrain

Date: Thursday, 27 February 2014

MASTERPIECES FROM THE SABANCI UNIVERSITY SAKIP SABANCI COLLECTION: 500 YEARS OF THE ART OF ISLAMIC CALLIGRAPHY, IS AT BAHRAIN NATIONAL MUSEUM.

Bahrain National Museum is hosting an exhibition of 86 calligraphic works as part of its 25th anniversary events. Oil paintings featuring examples of the art of calligraphy are also to be seen in this exhibition, which includes Islamic calligraphic manuscripts, examples of bookbinding, Ottoman period diplomatic documents and materials used by the calligraphic masters. Documentary films and special programs on the art of calligraphy accompany the exhibition. Through April 13.

19th Biennale Of Sydney Gets Under Way

Date: Thursday, 27 February 2014

ONE OF AUSTRALIA’S BIGGEST AND MOST EXCITING EVENTS, THE BIENNALE OF SYDNEY IS TAKING PLACE AT FIVE DIFFERENT VENUES MARCH 21 TO JUNE 9.

You Imagine What You Desire, in which upwards of 90 artists from 31 countries will take part, is an optimistic biennale that gives visitors a chance to examine the creations and desires of up-and-coming as well as established artists. First held in 1973, the biennale has hosted upwards of 1,600 artists from different countries until now. The biggest contemporary visual arts event in the Asia Pacific region, the Sydney Biennale also includes talks by artists, forums and panels, guided tours, and family days. With artistic direction by writer, designer and publisher Juliana Engberg, the 19th Sydney Biennale will be open to visitors at five different venues from March 21 through June 9.

Art Dubai Kicks Off

Date: Thursday, 27 February 2014

DUBAI IS HOSTING PARTICIPANTS FROM THE WORLD OF ART, ARCHITECTURE AND LITERATURE.

Exhibitions, workshops and lectures feature in this fair, in which writers, artists and galleries from around the world take part. Topics such as Alternative Futures of Art History between Iran and Dubai and Ibn Khaldun’s The Muqadimmah will be discussed under the Global Art Forum’s rubric, Meanwhile… History at this fair, which has become one of the art world’s global meeting points. The Sheikha Manal Little Artists program meanwhile offers workshops for children. Art Dubai is awaiting visitors at the Katara Art Center in Doha, March 15 and 16, and at Art Dubai, Mina A’ Salam, Madinat Jumeirah in Dubai, March 19 to 21. 

Turkish Films in Hollywood

Date: Thursday, 27 February 2014

IN ITS THIRD YEAR, THE LOS ANGELES TURKISH FILM FESTIVAL IS WELCOMING TURKEY’S PROMISING YOUNG DIRECTORS IN HOLLYWOOD.

The Los Angeles Turkish Film Festival, which brings Turkish films to Hollywood, the heart of American cinema, is taking place this year March 6 to 9. Bringing Turkey’s famous directors to American film buffs, the festival also lets young talents from Turkey get to know the world of American cinema.

Living Witnesses Of The Millennia

Article: Hasan Kireç Photo: İdris Çelik Date: Tuesday, 28 January 2014

FIRST INVENTED IN ANATOLIA, COINS SPREAD FROM THERE AROUND THE WORLD.

The invention of coins paved the way to great changes in the history of mankind and in the individual and social life of human beings. Money has never been a mere element of economic value. Coins rapidly evolved into a medium expressive of everything from culture, religious belief and political power to war and peace, unity and separation, patience,
resistance, even art and aesthetics.

SUN RISING FROM ANATOLIA
Phenomena such as production, trade, geopolitical importance and mines show it is no coincidence that the first coin was minted in Anatolia in the 7th century B.C. Whether in terms of the products they produced or their geopolitical position, the fertile lands of Anatolia were always an important center commercially speaking, and Assyrian traders are known to have had commercial relations in Anatolia already in the 3rd millennium B.C.

THE FIRST COIN AND A UNIVERSAL MISCONCEPTION
A common misconception is that the first coin was invented by the Lydians. As for the knowledge handed down to us since childhood that the first coin was invented by the Lydians, this is a misconception stemming from Herodotus, who says of the Lydians, “They invented the first coins in history, made of gold and silver.” This statement is interpreted today to mean that the Lydians invented the first coin, when in fact the first coins, known as elektron, were struck in a naturally occurring amalgam of gold and silver. The first coins that can be dated were discovered in the foundations of the Temple of Artemis at Ephesus, a temple known to have been commissioned by the Lydian King Croesus in 560 B.C. Based on the geometric its decorations, the vessel in which the coins were found is thought to date to around 650 B.C.

THE AESTHETIC PINNACLE: THE CLASSICAL PERIOD
Among the coins produced in antiquity, Greek coins are without a doubt the most ostentatious and aesthetically pleasing in appearance. Scores of depictions of themes and heroes whose names are familiar to us from mythology and ancient history adorn Greek coins. Indeed, it is thanks to them that some legends have come down to us today.

THE PERSIANS IN ANATOLIA
Before going to war with the Persians, Croesus sent messengers bearing rich gifts to the Oracle at Delphi seeking prophecies about the war. The reply from Delphi: “It is going to be the end of a very great state.” So the war with the Persians erupted. The Lydians were routed before they realized what was happening, and Croesus only saved himself from the already burning pyre thanks to the forgiveness of the Persian King Cyrus. Pleading with Cyrus, he dispatched yet another messenger to Delphi: “I sent you kilograms of gold, I prostrated myself before you, why did you deceive me?” The reply that came back was unambiguous: “We said it would be the end of a great state. Was it not?”

ALEXANDER THE GREAT, SON OF HERCULES
Alexander the Great of Macedonia is one of the greatest conquerors in history. Putting an end to Persian rule in Anatolia, Alexander the Great conquered all the known lands in the short time he lived. He took the Persian capital of Persepolis and advanced as far as India and Afghanistan. The commanders who succeeded him founded great kingdoms in India, Egypt, Syria and Anatolia. Alexander the Great also introduced important changes in the system of coinage.

1,500 YEARS FROM ROME TO BYZANTIUM
One of history’s greatest civilizations, the Roman Empire produced scores of different types of copper, bronze, silver and gold coins for hundreds of years in the vast territory over which it spread, virtually writing the history of Rome on coins. Emperors and empresses, dictators and senators as well as victories, religions and legends all found a place on Roman coins, which are therefore among the primary reference sources today for experts in the fields of archaeology, history and art history.

When the Pharisees wanted to taunt Jesus, they said:
“You are always speaking of God and the heavens and saying, why should we pay taxes to Rome? Should we not pay them?”
Holding up a coin, Jesus asked?
“Who is this?”
The reply, “Caesar.”
“Then render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s….”

ANATOLIAN COINS IN THE ROMAN PERIOD
A bust of the emperor appeared on the obverse of these coins, and on the reverse architectural structures, founding legends and athletic contests representative of the local life of that city. One of the most important properties of such coins is that they were inscribed not in Latin but in Greek. Although the period is known as the Roman Era, the people who lived here were Anatolians under the influence of Hellenistic culture.

EASTERN ROME (THE BYZANTINE EMPIRE)
After Constantine the Great made Byzantium his capital and founded a new city here, the city would be remembered by its founder’s name as Constantinople and remain the capital for 1,600 years. The Eastern Roman Empire, which came in time to be ruled by Greek culture under the influence of the Orthodox church, is an important period in the history of Anatolian coinage due to the unique types and denominations of coins it produced.

ISLAMIC COINS
The first Islamic gold coin was struck by the Umayyad Caliph Abdulmalik ibn Merwan in A.H. 77. The year they were struck is inscribed on these coins, on which Suras from the Holy Quran and the basic tenets of Islam appear on both the obverse and the reverse. Silver coins began to be struck as well starting in A.H. 78. Both the date and place where they were struck appear on these coins. Following the Umayyads, the Abbasid, Tulunid, Fatimid, Ayyubid, Seljuk, Ilkhanid, Mamluk and all other Islamic states struck hundreds of coins of different types and denominations.

THE TURKS IN ANATOLIA
The Turks entered Anatolia at the Battle of Malazgirt in 1071 but were unable to gain a foothold due to the Crusades, which commenced in 1096. Withdrawing in the direction from which they had come, they retreated as far as Konya. During the Crusades, which lasted for around two hundred years, the Crusader armies established four kingdoms, two of them in Anatolia (Urfa and Antioch).
The Anatolian Seljuk and other principalities - the Artukid, Danishmendid, Saltukid and Mengujek - that were founded following the Turks’ entry into Anatolia all adopted the Byzantine coin tradition more or less lock, stock and barrel.

THE ANATOLIAN TURKISH PRINCIPALITIES
When the Anatolian Seljuk state lost the Battle of Kösedağ in 1243 and gradually waned in strength, Anatolia came under the domination of the Ilkhanids in the time of Hülagu. Subject to the Ilkhanids for 50 years, the Seljuk state came to an end in 1308 with the death of Mesud II. Commanders attached to the Seljuk state on its periphery, such as Menteşe Bey, Aydın Bey, Saruhan Bey, Karesi Bey and others, acted on their own, founding new principalities in their areas of influence.

THE OTTOMAN EMPIRE
The coins of the Ottoman Empire can only be given proper treatment in books of multiple volumes. For one thing, the Ottoman Empire had a total of 36 sultans. And when coins come into the picture, this number goes even higher since the sons of Beyazıt the Lightning Bolt (Emir Süleyman, Musa Çelebi and Mustafa Çelebi) as well as Mehmet the Conqueror’s son Jem Sultan must be taken into account during the period of the Interregnum. There are over a hundred and twenty known Ottoman mints today. And this number may of course increase as new coins are discovered.

THE FIRST GOLD COIN
The first gold coin, or sultani, was minted in the time of Mehmed the Conqueror, toward the end of his reign. It was only natural that this coin, weighing 3.5 g, would be minted at the same weight as the Venetian gold coins that had already been in use in the Ottoman lands for 170 years.

INSCRIPTION OR TUGHRA?
The first tughra (stylized imperial signature) on the coins of the Ottoman Empire was used in the time of Emir Süleyman. In the case of gold coins, the tughra was first used during the reign of Mustafa II. The tughras of the Ottoman sultans, both the illustrious and the not so illustrious, appeared on the majority of the Empire’s coins for some 500 years. Coins with tughras went out of circulation about 100 years ago, but even today when a coin is tossed, one still hears the question: Inscription or Tughra? Heads or Tails? An invaluable source of knowledge about the art, culture, economy, politics and many other aspects of their time, coins are the most precious documents to have survived the ravages of time.

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