Source: Daily Sabah
By ALİ TÜFEKÇİ; ISTANBUL; Arts
The 18th century was a period of great acculturation between the Orient and the West. The first thing that came to mind when the Orient was mentioned in Europe was the Ottoman Empire. The rise in Franco-Ottoman trade relations during the reign of Sultan Suleiman I (aka Suleiman the Magnificent) was a positive development – for until this time, the empire was one which provoked fear in Western minds.
The failure of the Siege of Vienna (1683) meant that Ottoman territory reached its natural borders. Following the battle, new conquests stopped, and the period of protection of existing lands began. Fear of the empire was giving way to curiosity.
The visits of Ottoman ambassadors to France in the 1700s was effective in securing the Ottomans’ powerful influence over European culture. The main factor that prompted the rise of Turquerie, or Turkish fashion, was the arrival of Ambassador Mehmed Çelebi, known by the nickname “Yirmisekiz” (“Twenty- Eight” in Turkish), who was sent to France in 1721.
The period that historians refer to as the Tulip Era was the peak of culture and arts in the Ottoman Empire. Even the motifs of this period, shaped by representations of the tulip alone, had far-reaching impacts on the West.
Mehmed Çelebi and his entourage reflected all elements of the refinement of Ottoman aesthetics. With his visit, Turkish fashion made a splash in Paris. In a later period, the trend that started in Paris engulfed the whole of Europe so much so that admiration for the Ottomans materialized with the establishment of the Divan Club, a short-lived dining club with membership open to gentlemen who had visited the Ottoman Empire, in 18th-century London.