….Turkey is putting up good economic numbers, and flourishing without the militarily imposed corruption that the Kemalist guarantors of secularism wallowed in as the price of preserving modern Turkey. Tiresome though Turkey’s anti-Israel posturing and pandering to the Arabs is, it is hard to begrudge the Turks being toasted and feted as an eminent nation in the Near East and North Africa. They stood, fez in hand, for many demeaning decades on the doorstep of Europe, like King Henry kneeling in the snow before the pope’s window at Canossa, to receive such condescensions as only senior European officials can inflict (on behalf of an EU that has now partially collapsed at Turkey’s feet).Read More:http://fullcomment.nationalpost.com/2011/12/31/conrad-black-at-year-end-the-world-stumbles-onward/
A full splendor in the art of the Ottomoan Empire. It is against the law of Islam for anyone to paint a portrait. On the Day of Judgement, the prophet Mohammed is reported to have said, painters will be doomed to hell for their blasphemous attempts to compete with God by creating life. If the religious laws were practiced as much as they were preached, Moslem artists would never have represented any living thing. Yet the Moslems did develop splendid schools of portraiture and historical painting, for they have been no more noted for strict obedience to religious laws than members of other faiths have been.
Over the centuries Islamic artists have painted pictures of dervishes, sultans, and saints, subjects from the Koran, the Bible, and Arab and Persian legends, and vignettes of everyday life, from women in childbirth to street sweepers at work. Palace walls were decorated with hunting scenes, or portraits of conquered kings, or dancing girls, and, in one case, even a representation of a Christian church, complete with praying monks.
The Ottoman sultans of Turkey were in the forefront of Islamic society in their patronage of art, commissioning numerous portraits of themselves, their favorites, and their families. But this work was, often as not, done in secret, to keep the sultan’s subjects from discovering that he was breaking the religious law. Despite the secrecy, the Ottoman style of portraiture and miniature painting evolved into a distinctive and sophisticated art form, as splendid in its own way as Ottoman architecture, which is seen in so many beautiful mosques throughout Turkey and is usually considered the noblest accomplishment of Turkish art.
One of the most famous of the Osman descendents , Mohammed II, captured Constantinople in 1453, and put an end to the diminished Byzantine empire. Osman’s descendents led glorious but dangerous lives. Whenever a new sultan ascended to the bejeweled imperial throne, he had his brothers strangled to rid himself of rivals. Later, when the Turks became more civilized, or at least least barbaric and more pragmatic, the Sultan’s brothers, and often his sons were merely imprisoned in cages, next to the Royal harem, to keep them from mischief.
The court artists who were called upon to depict so august and all powerful a personage had a difficult task. They showed the sultan bigger than the people around him, his rich robes billowing out to fill an inordinately large share of the picture space.The painters, like almost everyone else who lived and worked in the Grand Seraglio, the enormous royal palace at Constantinople, were his slaves, about on a level with the servant who carried in the clock when the sultan wanted to know what time it was, or the man who bore an extra royal turban in public processions and bobbed it up and down to save the sultan the trouble of acknowledging the applause of the populace.