Ottomans Looking West?: The Origins of the Tulip Age and its by Can Erimtan

By Can Erimtan

The "Tulip Age", an idea that defined the start of the Ottoman Empire's westward inclination within the eighteenth century, used to be an idea proposed via Ottoman historian Ahmed Refik in 1912. within the first reassessment of the origins of this idea, Can Erimtan argues the "Tulip Age" was once a major template for numerous political and ideological issues of early 20th century Turkish governments. the idea that is so much reflective of the Nineteen Thirties Republican leadership's try and disengage Turkey's inhabitants from its Islamic tradition and prior, stressing the virtues of development, modernity and secularism. It was once in basic terms the dying of Atat??rk in 1938 that brought about a hesitant revival of Islam in Turkey's public lifestyles and a state-sponsored re-invigoration of analysis into Turkey's Ottoman earlier. during this intriguing reassessment Erimtan indicates us that the trope of the "Tulip Age" corresponds extra to Turkish society's wish to re-orientate itself to the Occident through the 20th century instead of to early eighteenth-century Ottoman realities.

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147 C HAPTER I/2 41 In his Lâle Devri, Ahmed Refik returns to recounting the further deeds of Damad İbrahim, after having exposed the peculiar nature of Saabadad. At this stage, Ahmed Refik introduces the theme of the fashion for tulips pervading contemporary İstanbul into his own text: ‘[t]ulips were the novelty [introduced by] the Grand Vezir that occupied the Ottoman arts and aesthetics for years’. 148 Ahmed Refik does not proceed to criticise his protagonist, but instead continues in a phraseology very reminiscent of Vandal’s wording: In no other era has it been the case that tulips were so much in demand.

He quotes from the works of Râşid Mehmed, Çelebizâde Asım, Subhî as well as Naimâ. 12 This leaves the penultimate year of Ahmed III’s reign (1142 AH) without a mention in the Ottoman chronicle. The composite volume Tarih-i Sâmî ü Şâkir ü Subhî (1198/1784), which Ahmed Refik refers to as Tarih-i Subhî, then covers the period 114355/1730-42, starting with Mahmud I’s accession to the throne. 13 The Tarih-i Naimâ deals with the years 1000-1070/1592-1660, and thus would appear to be totally irrelevant.

At this stage, Ahmed Refik introduces the theme of the fashion for tulips pervading contemporary İstanbul into his own text: ‘[t]ulips were the novelty [introduced by] the Grand Vezir that occupied the Ottoman arts and aesthetics for years’. 148 Ahmed Refik does not proceed to criticise his protagonist, but instead continues in a phraseology very reminiscent of Vandal’s wording: In no other era has it been the case that tulips were so much in demand. 149 In particular Ahmed Refik seems to have employed Vandal’s implicit reference to the Dutch Tulipomania.

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