Monday, March 22, 2010

Turkey & Tulips

When in Turkey last year, I learned that tulips came from there before arriving in Holland. Here is some more information found about this subject.

"Tulips are an everlasting symbol of Istanbul and Turkey, not the familiar varieties with rounded incurving petals seen in northern Europe and North America, but with pointed outward directed petals in the shape of daggers or needles. This stylized tulip decorates the mall between the Blue Mosque and the Hagia Sophia and emphasizes these features, representing an entire period of Turkish history as well as an on-going love affair between the city and the tulip. Today in Istanbul there is said to be one tulip for every one of its 12 million inhabitants. The fuselage of Turkish Airlines planes carries a logo of a tulip as well. Millions of dollars ( even more in lira) have been spent on plantings all over Istanbul with a tulip festival annually.

Wild-growing tulips in Iran and Eastern Turkey were imported to Istanbul before the 15th C but were heavily cultivated in gardens and flowerbox settings in Istanbul as well as depicted in art and craft. From here came the spread of tulipmania to Western Europe and Holland in particular in the 1630's. The English word tulip is derived from the Turkish word for helmet, to which the flower bears a vague resemblance.

Tulip gardening was a hobby of the rich and powerful in Turkey, considered both relaxing and spiritual, and especially favored by the sultans and grand viziers. Surprisingly, even though tulips extended west from Istanbul, the tulipmania of the 1630's in northern Europe did not occur in Turkey until the so-called "Tulip Period" in the early 18th C. Sultan Ahmet III among others was obsessed with gardens, tulips, and garden parties driving bulb prices to insane levels. Others with great interest included Admiral Mustafa Pasa who invented over 40 new tulip breeds.

The Tulip Period was one of relative peace for Turkey with an emphasis on art, culture, and architecture with a Baroque orientation derived from contact with the remainder of Europe. Crushing defeats in European battles late in this timespan brought increasing unrest and outrage against the excesses of the ruling classes and the government stepped in to control the tulip trade, ending the Tulip Period and royal foolishness. Tulips gradually disappeared from Istanbul life, only to be reborn in the last few years."
Info courtesy of the internet:
"THE CITY OF TULIPS" a Istanbul Travel Page by nicolaitan

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