Monday, April 9, 2018
The reign of Suleiman the Magnificent, the Ottoman Empire was a multinational, multilingual empire controlling much of Southeast Europe, parts of Central Europe, Western Asia, the Caucasus, North Africa, and the Horn of Africa. At the beginning of the 17th century the empire contained 32 provinces and numerous vassal states. Some of these were later absorbed into the Ottoman Empire, while others were granted various types of autonomy during the course of centuries
It was once the largest and wealthiest city in Europe, and a series of stunning postcard images now reveals what life was like on its streets.
The ancient architecture of Constantinople, in Turkey, is shown in the pictures, taken in the last years before the fall of the Ottoman Empire, and carefully restored to add colour.
Constantinople, before it was renamed Istanbul in 1930, was the Turkish capital and a crucial international trade route, integral to the empire.
A mosque and street in the Scutari district of Constantinople, in a fascinating image which gives and impression of day-to-day life during the latter years of the Ottoman Empire
The neighbourhood of Galata, opposite Constantinople, which was located at the northern shore of the Golden Horn, the inlet which separates it from the historic peninsula of old Constantinople
A stunning view of Fenerbahce on the sea of Marmara in Constantinople, Turkey, between 1890 and 1900, in the last years of the Ottoman Empire
Hundreds of people walk across the Galata bridge in Constantinople, as small boats sail in the water in what was a major trade route into Europe during the Ottoman Empire
The city, on the banks of the Bosphorus, was the biggest and wealthiest in Europe before the fall of the Ottoman Empire
French author Pierre Gilles wrote of the city, where Europe meets Asia, in the 16th century: 'Constantinople alone seems to claim a kind of immortality and will continue to be a city as long as humanity shall live either to inhabit or rebuild it.'
For the first time, colour has been added to the pictures, taken in the 1890s, which show the ancient architecture of a city which controlled vast areas of Europe, North Africa and parts of Asia.
The Ottoman Empire, founded in 1299, collapsed in November 1922, when the last sultan, Mehmed VI, was sent into exile. The First World War had been a disaster for the empire, with British and allied forces capturing Baghdad, Damascus and Jerusalem.
A new government, the Turkish Grand National Assembly, had been set up in 1920 in Ankara, which became the Turkish capital.
The images, which show day-to-day life in the imperial city, had colour added to them using a process named Photochrom.
The Pertevniyal Valide Sultan Camii, Aksaray, in Constantinople, during the late years of the Ottoman Empire (left), and the landmark burnt column in Constantinople (right)
Sultan's Bajazid mosque in Constantinople, Turkey, is one of the landmarks revealed in the stunning set of images
Colour has been added to the postcards using a process called Photochrom, bringing the historic city to life
A view from the bridge in Constantinople, where Europe meets Asia, in a scene which gives a fascinating insight into life just before then end of the 19th century
Constantinople, before it was renamed Istanbul in 1930 , was the Turkish capital and was integral for the empire, as it was once the centre of an international trade route
With everything from wild orgies to sex on a tomb, the book contains 85 illustrated scenes showing vigorous sexual exploits of the 'Ottoman playboy'.
The unnamed playboy enjoys sexual relations with both men and women throughout the book.
He always wears the same distinctive turban of dark blue fabric and white cloth, suggesting he was rich and in the Sultan's inner circle.
A 200-year-old manuscript from the Ottoman empire provides an eye-opening insight into the frivolous activities of a wealthy sheikh. The X-rated book, the title of which loosely translates to 'A Shaykh Remembers his Youth', shows a variety of sexual scenes (pictured) in startling clarity
The X-rated book, the title of which loosely translates to 'A Shaykh Remembers his Youth', shows a variety of sexual scenes in startling clarity.
Sex in the book takes place everywhere, including in a hammam, a bakery and on the site of a tomb.
With homosexual acts just as prominent as heterosexual acts, the wealthy sheikh who commissioned the piece was far from shy about sharing his antics.
The book is considered one of the most lavishly illustrated erotic manuscripts in the world.
Of the many trysts depicted in the book, one noteworthy one shows ten moustache-bearing youths wearing next to nothing having sex in a circle.
It appears the spectacular feat was nothing unusual for the young Muslims.
'It represents the long lifetime of an Ottoman playboy. We haven't been able to identify him, but there was a very clear code of dress in the Sultan's palace.
'Whoever he was, he was certainly influential in the court, and very, very rich. His type of turban suggests someone who was within the inner circle of the sultan.'
The main figure, always depicted wearing a white and blue turban, is seen in most of the book's explicit scenes.
'It's interesting because there is progression of age,' Ms de Nicolais said.
One of the pieces of artwork shows an older sheikh with a prostitute.
She can be seen counting coins on the floor while the sheikh is positioned behind her.
Set to go under the hammer later this month at Sotheby's in London, the journal is expected to fetch up to £350,000 ($500,000). The book is considered one of the most lavishly illustrated erotic manuscripts in the world
Lovingly created over several decades, the book documents the colourful sexual activity of an Islamic playboy. The promiscuous patron (pictured) expanded the manual to include further erotic works over the next 40 years
The promiscuous patron expanded the manual to include further erotic works over the next 40 years.
The 209-page manuscript, which measures 13 inches by 8.5 inches (33cm by 22cm) mentions three dates: 1779, 1799-1780 and 1817.
This indicates that the production of the book spanned the duration of the curator's youth as well as later years.
Text in the book mentions reference to the city of Shumna, today Shumen, in Bulgaria.
As well as showing the sexual prowess of a wealthy individual, the manuscript also offers an insight into the attitudes toward sexual activity in the late Ottoman empire.
The manual is in two sections - one depicting men's sexuality and the other's women.
In stark contrast to the rest of conservative Europe, erotic literature was popular throughout the Ottoman empire.
The 209-page manuscript, which measures 13 inches by 8.5 inches (33cm by 22cm) mentions three dates: 1779, 1799-1780 and 1817. This indicates that the production of the book spanned the duration of the curator's lifetime. It explores both male and female sexuality
Eighty-five separate sex scenes include homosexual and heterosexual activity. Open-mindedness was a pre-requisite for book's several authors and artists as it shows in fascinating detail the use of Ottoman-era sex toys in groups of women
In the 16th century Ottoman society was generally open-minded about sex and then became more conservative in the 17th century.
By the 18th century however, there had been a sexual renaissance and the market for erotica blossomed once more.
In the Ottoman empire, gender was considered fluid and like many other extinct civilisations and cultures, homosexuality was commonplace.
Although this is a rare depiction of lesbian sex in Islamic art, erotic behaviour between several men was more normal.
Experts believe the publication was probably made to be shared among friends.
The figure pictured sitting cross-legged at the table features prominently throughout the entire book, always wearing the same distinct turban. it is believed he was the wealthy sheikh that commissioned the book
A shockingly candid glimpse at the frolicking of an unknown tycoon, the article is being viewed as one of the most lavishly illustrated erotic manuscripts in the world
The open-minded approach to sex in the 16th century became increasingly conservative in the 17th century. By the 18th century however, there had been a sexual renaissance and the market for erotica blossomed once more
The catalogue notes state: 'To understand fully the context in which these paintings were produced, it is necessary to note that gender was not considered a dichotomy in Ottoman Turkey.
'Three distinctive groups need to be identified when talking about sexuality: men, women and male youths.
'The man is at the centre of the encounter most of the time, but there are occasions where only male youths or women are the principal protagonists.
'There is fluidity in gender: youths will become men, and the main distinction within a sexual act lies between who is passive and who is active.'
The fountain of Sultan Ahmed, pictured in Constantinople in the 1890s, is a key landmark shown in colour in the stunning set of images
A scene from the Eyoub cemetery in Constantinople, which was renamed Istanbul in 1930 following the collapse of the Ottoman Empire
The banks of the Bosporus when Istanbul was still called Constantinople during the latter years of the Ottoman Empire
An image of the Byzantine wall near Irdikale, in Constantinople, which had colour added to it in a painstaking process
A section of the Eyoub cemetery in Constantinople, between 1890 and 1900 (left), and a man carries baskets on the side of a basket in Top Capou in Constantinople, in a picture taken in the 1890s
A scene from Seraskerat in Constantinople, where a young boy stands in the middle of a square as people go about their business in the largest and wealthiest city in Europe
A lively street in the district of Stamboul, taken between 1890 and 1900, which has been turned into a colour image
Colour was added to bring the image of the famous Yeni Cami mosque in modern-day Istanbul to life. It is pictured by moonlight as small boats row across the water
The landmark Yildirim Beyazit mosque in Bursa, Turkey, is among the postcard images which have been turned into a colour picture
With Constantinople as its capital and control of lands around the Mediterranean basin, the Ottoman Empire was at the centre of interactions between the Eastern and Western worlds for six centuries. While the empire was once thought to have entered a period of decline following the death of Suleiman the Magnificent, this view is no longer supported by the majority of academic historians. The empire continued to maintain a flexible and strong economy, society, and military throughout the seventeenth and much of the eighteenth century. However, during a long period of peace from 1740 to 1768, the Ottoman military system fell behind that of their European rivals, the Habsburg and Russian Empires. The Ottomans consequently suffered severe military defeats in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, which prompted them to initiate a comprehensive process of reform and modernization known as the Tanzimat. Thus over the course of the nineteenth century the Ottoman state became vastly more powerful and organized, despite suffering further territorial losses, especially in the Balkans, where a number of new states emerged. The empire allied with Germany in the early 20th century, hoping to escape from the diplomatic isolation which had contributed to its recent territorial losses, and thus joined World War I on the side of the Central Powers. While the Empire was able to largely hold its own during the conflict, it was struggling with internal dissent, especially with the Arab Revolt in its Arabian holdings. Starting before World War I, but growing increasingly common and violent during it, major atrocities were committed by the Ottoman government against the Armenians, Assyrians and Pontic Greeks
Cypresses and the road leading to the cemetery, Scutari, in Constantinople between 1890 and 1900, in one of the images which shows what life was life in the great city
Genocide of the Christians: The blood-soaked depravity exceeded even today's atrocities by Islamic State - now, 100 years on Turkey faces global disgust at its refusal to admit butchering over a MILLION Armenians
In 1915 the rulers of the Ottoman empire turned their hatred on Armenians
The Young Turks persecution of the minority turned to unbridled savagery
Modern Turkey faces disgust over refusal to admit the historic genocide
She was in bed when the soldiers came in the middle of the night and dragged her father out of the family home in Diyarbakir, a city in eastern Turkey.
The last thing little Aghavni (her name means ‘dove’ in her native Armenian) heard as she cowered in her room was his shout of defiance: ‘I was born a Christian and I will die a Christian.’
Not until first light did Aghavni dare to creep downstairs on that morning 100 years ago. ‘I saw an object sticking through the front door,’ she later remembered. ‘I pushed it open and there lay two horseshoes nailed to two feet.
the ruling Turks had turned their hatred on the 2 million men, women and children of Armenian extraction who lived within their borders
‘My eyes followed up to the blood-covered ankles, the disjointed knees, the mound of blood where the genitals had been, to a long laceration through the abdomen to the chest.
‘I came to the hands, which were nailed horizontally on a board with big spikes of iron, like a cross. The shoulders were remarkably clean and white, but there was no head.
‘This was lying on the steps, propped up by the nose. I recognized the neatly trimmed beard along the cheekbones. It was my father.
The year was 1915. In the sprawling, beleaguered Ottoman Empire — an ally of the German Kaiser in the world war that had engulfed Europe and parts of Asia for nine months — the ruling Turks had turned their hatred on the 2 million men, women and children of Armenian extraction who lived within their borders.
The Armenians — who lived on the eastern edge of the empire ruled from Constantinople (modern-day Istanbul) — were Christians and had been since the year 301, making theirs the first nation officially to adopt Christianity, even before Rome.
But here, among the Islamic Turks, they had long been second-class citizens, a persecuted minority. Now, as power in the land was seized by a junta of nationalist officers known as the Young Turks, persecution turned to unbridled savagery.
Pope calls Armenian massacre 'first genocide of 20th century'
A Turkish official teases starving Armenian children during the genocide in Turkey in 1915
Turkey recalled its ambassador to the Vatican and accused the Pope of spreading ‘hatred and animosity’ with ‘unfounded allegations’.
The Turks take objection to the word ‘genocide’ — first coined in the 1940s to describe what the Nazis did to the Jews, but also ever since applied to the 1915 massacre of the Armenians.
Not true, has always been the official response from Istanbul and Ankara, Turkey’s capital.
Hundreds of thousands died in that era, they admit, (though they dispute the numbers are anywhere near as high as claimed).
But this, they maintain, happened as a result of chaotic wartime conditions, civil strife, starvation and in response to Armenian violence, not because of a deliberate, officially organised and systematic plan to eliminate an entire people.
Armenian children caught up in the 1915 genocide which modern Turkey still refuses to acknowledge
None of it, they continue to insist a century on, was sanctioned from on high.
What seems to trouble the Turks is admitting that their country was founded in modern times on a deliberate act of ethnic cleansing.
They may also be concerned that an admission will bring an avalanche of demands for reparations and, at the very least, the return of land and wealth seized back in 1915.
So they protest their innocence of genocide, even though historians who disagree have formed long queues over the years with convincing and detailed evidence that this is precisely what took place.
So, too, have international lawyers, among them most recently Amal Clooney, the glamorous human rights barrister and wife of Hollywood actor George Clooney.
In court in Switzerland earlier this year, she took up Armenia’s case and challenged a nationalist Turkish MP who maintained in public that the Armenian genocide was an ‘international lie’. There should be no doubting the reality of genocide that Armenian people suffered a century ago, she insisted.
In court in Switzerland earlier this year, Amal Clooney (pictured) took up Armenia’s case and challenged a nationalist Turkish MP who maintained in public that the Armenian genocide was an ‘international lie’
Another celebrity rooting for the Armenians over the injustice they have suffered is, perhaps surprisingly, the reality TV star Kim Kardashian, whose ancestors were lucky to flee to the U.S. from Armenia just two years before the massacres.
Showing a serious side not normally seen, she says that ‘until this crime is resolved truthfully and fairly, the Armenian people will live with the pain of what happened to their families’. This week, she visited the country with her family to lay flowers at its memorial to the victims.
In Turkey, to express such views is dangerous. Public debate is stifled by a law that bans ‘insulting Turkishness’ and has been invoked against those who speak out — including a Nobel Prize winner, whose books were burned by protesters.
Another writer was gunned down in the street in Istanbul by an offended ultra-nationalist, who shouted ‘I shot the infidel’ as he delivered the fatal shot.
Turkey has also been accused of belittling the Armenian centenary by bringing forward its commemorations of Gallipoli, the bloody 1915 battle on the Turkish peninsula, from the traditional April 25 date to clash with the April 24 memorial.
Outside of Turkey, the position is strangely confused. Around two dozen countries acknowledge the truth of the Armenian genocide, despite often strong-arm diplomacy by Turkey to dissuade them and put Ankara’s gloss on past events. They will be greatly heartened by the Pope’s stance.
But others have chosen to sit on the fence, notably the United States, unwilling to cross swords with a Nato ally that is geographically so close to Russia.
Before coming to office, President Obama promised his nation’s one million people with Armenian roots that he would recognise that genocide had occurred, but has not yet dared to utter the word, hiding behind the less-damning Armenian phrase ‘Medz Yeghern’ — the great crime or the great catastrophe.
Yet, ironically, it was an American who first made the world aware of what happened. Back in 1915, Henry Morgenthau was the U.S. Ambassador to the Ottoman Empire, and on his desk in Constantinople landed reports from American consuls in far-flung Turkish cities, documenting massacres and death marches.
Amal Clooney previously defended Armenian Human Rights
Former Armenian President Robert Kocharian (Left) takes part in the ceremony at the Genocide Memorial complex in Yerevan
He concluded: ‘I do not believe the darkest ages ever presented scenes more horrible.’
Unleashed on the Armenians, Turkish policemen and soldiers ransacked Christian churches and handed bishops and priests over to the mob.
Community leaders such as doctors and teachers were hanged in batches on gallows in town squares. An American missionary reported seeing men tied together with their heads sticking through the rungs of a ladder to be lopped off with swords.
Torture was commonplace, Morgenthau maintained as he studied the evidence. ‘They would pull out eyebrows and beards almost hair by hair, extract fingernails and toenails, apply red-hot irons and tear off flesh with pincers, then pour boiled butter into the wounds.’
Crucifixion was treated as a sport. ‘As the sufferer writhes in his agony, they would cry: “Now let your Christ come and help you”.’
When orders were given to assemble all the Armenians and march them out into the desert, Morgenthau had no doubt that this was ‘the death warrant to a whole race’. Moreover, he said: ‘In their conversations with me, the authorities made no particular attempt to conceal the fact’.
Children, whose parents had been killed for their ethnicity and religion in the brutal genocide here pictured together in 1918
He wrote graphically of how men were taken from their ploughs, women from their ovens and children from their beds to join ‘the panic-stricken throng’. Young men were strung up or shot — ‘the only offence being that they were Armenians’.
Convicts were let out of prison to help with the killings. Locals joined in, too. In Ankara, all Armenian men aged 15 to 70 were bound in fours and led out to a secluded valley, where Turkish peasants hacked them to death with scythes, spades and saws.
‘In this way, they exterminated the whole male population.’
For six months, as the enforced exodus went on, Morgenthau reported, roads and tracks were crowded with lines of Armenians.
Turkish Workers Party IP leader Dogu Perincek speaks to journalists in Switzerland during his trial on denial of genocide
‘They could be seen winding through every valley and mountain-side, moving on they scarcely knew where, except that every road led to death.
‘They left behind the unburied dead, as well as men and women dying of typhus, dysentery and cholera and children setting up their last piteous wails for food and water.’
How many died? Morgenthau reported that, on one particular death march, of the 18,000 who set out, just 150 were alive a week later.
A survivor recalled that ‘death was our constant companion. We fought the threat of panic, hunger, fear and sleepless nights but, in the end, they won. It seemed there was no pity or humanity in the hearts of our captors’. As they crossed the Euphrates river, one witness reported how ‘bloated bodies lay on the bank, black from the sun, tongues hanging out. Bones showed through decaying skin’.
‘The stomachs of pregnant women had been slit open and their unborn children placed in their hands like black grapes. Children were crying next to dead parents. Women were delirious.’
So many dead bodies clogged the river that its course was diverted for several hundred yards. But at least the water gave relief to some. Mothers sank into it gratefully, their babies in their arms, to drown and end their misery.
Women suffered special horrors. Aghavni — that girl whose story of stumbling on her father’s crucified and decapitated body we saw earlier — recalled how, in her home town, a group of 20 Armenian women were forced to dance under a blue, cloudless sky.
‘Turkish soldiers stood behind them shouting “Dance, sluts” and cracking their whips across their breasts, so their clothes would fall off. Some were half-naked, others tried to hold their clothes together.
‘The women were praying as they moved in a slow circle, holding hands. Occasionally, they would drop the hand next to them and quickly make the sign of the cross.
‘When they fell down, they were whipped until they got up and continued their dance. Each crack of the whip and more of their clothing came off.
Over one million of the two million Armenians living within the borders of the Ottoman Empire were murdered
‘Around them stood their children, who were forced to clap, faster and faster. If they stopped, they were whipped.
‘Some were two years old and barely able to stand up. They cried uncontrollably, in a terrible, pitiful, hopeless way.’ All of this was watched by a crowd of delighted Turkish townspeople in smart dresses and business suits, ‘clapping, too, like cockroaches’.
What came next was beyond belief. ‘Two soldiers pushed through the crowd, swinging buckets, and doused the women with kerosene. As the women screamed, another soldier came forward with a torch and lit each woman by her hair.
Armenian widow with 3 children seeking help from missionaries in 1899. Her husband was killed in the aftermath of the Armenian Massacres of 1894-1896
‘At first, all I could see was smoke. Then I saw the fire coming off their bodies, and their screaming became unbearable.
‘The children were being whipped furiously now, as if the burning mothers had excited the soldiers, and they admonished the children to clap faster and faster, telling them that if they stopped they, too, would be set on fire.
‘As the women collapsed in burning heaps, oozing and black, the smell of burnt flesh made me sick and I fainted.’
On the death march out into the desert, Aghavni remembered how women were openly tortured and abused. ‘If a woman would not readily submit to sex, she was whipped and, if she tried to run away, she was shot.’
She could only watch in horror as a girl resisted and a policeman took out his sword, ripped open her dress and then slashed off her breasts. ‘They fell to the ground and she bled to death next to them.’ Aghavni survived her ordeal — one of the few to do so. She lived, eventually making her way to America to give her first-hand account of a genocide that the Turkish authorities are still adamant did not take place.
Armenia survived, too, as a country — becoming independent for a while after the break-up of the Ottoman empire, before being sucked into the maw of the Soviet Union for 70 years, from which it emerged as a state in its own right in 1991.
This week, Turkey’s president declared that Armenians pressing Turkey to recognise massacres as genocide are simply trying to score points against his country.
‘Their aim is not to search for the truth, but to attack Turkey and cause it harm,’ he contends.
But such defiance flies in the face of history. Arnold J. Toynbee, a British intelligence agent at the time (and later a distinguished historian), wrote that ‘all this horror was inflicted on the Armenians without a shadow of provocation’.
People from 12 countries (Germany, Austria, Belgium, Bulgary, Cyprus, Spain, France, Greece, Italy, Netherlands, UK and Sweden) demonstrate for recognition of the Armenian Genocide
He heard, back then, the Turkish argument that there was a war on and the Armenians were traitors, ‘but such excuses are entirely contradicted by the facts’.
‘None of the towns and villages from which they were systematically deported to their death were anywhere near the hostilities. The Ottoman Government cannot disguise its crime as a preventive measure.’ Toynbee wrote this in 1916.
That in 2015 Turkey is still insisting on rewriting history should concern us all — not least because in a world where Islamic forces are, once again, brutally targeting Christians in the Middle East and Africa, the lessons of the past need to be faced and finally learned.
Posted by ASC at 10:45 AM