Istanbul and the Ottoman Culture

In 2001, I made a trip to Istanbul to stay with a wonderful Turkish dollmaker who was, and is, considered a national treasure of Turkey. She made extraordinary dolls and she was so prolific that she had 1000 dolls in her apartment. While visiting, we went to the museum where she was to show her work that fall, and we received a private tour of the museum. The dollmaker’s name is Lutfiye Batafan. She is extraordinary. While visiting her, I was introduced to the Turkish culture in the most curious way. The Turkish people are wonderful, and they embrace visitors into their homes in a very endearing way. Lutfiye welcomed me into her home and she and her family gave me such a gift by inviting me into their home. Istanbul and the Ottoman Culture go back thousands of years, and the architecture alone will make you swoon. The patterning and embellishment of the mosiacs and rock work in the archways is so inspiring and wonderful.

Topkapi Palace Istanbul

Topkapi Palace Istanbul- Photo by r Gryffindor


Nurhan Atasoy has a new book the encompasses the Ottoman culture and it’s influence on European Culture. Istanbul and the Ottoman Culture are worthy of study, as there are layers and layers of power and religion and time, reflected in the mosques and architecture. If you truly want  to be transported through time, and see the layers of Christianity, Islam layered in mosiacs, then you must go to Istanbul to see the works of the Ottoman Culture. Read an excerpt of the article about Nurhan Atasoy’s book below, and read the entire article here.

Nurhan Atasoy, the grand dame of Ottoman history and chronicler of its artistic wonders, may well spark another revolution with her new work, Impressions of Ottoman Culture in Europe: 1453–1699. Meticulously researched and adorned with lavish illustrations, the book documents the seminal influence of Ottoman visual tastes on the Western mind during the centuries of Ottoman expansion. One only has to think of how well the world recognizes the Roman or British or Chinese empires’ signature aesthetics to realize what a lacuna she has addressed: the cultural impact of a vast empire at the world’s center in a critical era as the Renaissance brewed across its borders. Co-authored with fellow Turk and Islamic art expert Lale Uluç, the book’s publication at this juncture shows that Atasoy has kept her impeccable sense of timing. Turkey is everywhere in the headlines, and the question “whither Turkey—East or West” preoccupies much of the globe.


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