Monday, December 15, 2008

Lesley's Shadow, Me & the Turkish Tulips

Too many times to Turkey, I had become accustomed to the many decorative tulips adorning parks, subway stations, textiles, porcelain and more... It was again Lesley snapping photos of tulips (no, it wasn't only cats) that made me stop and ponder the preponderance of tulips.

Well, it seems that those of us who think that we enjoy tulips thanks to the Dutch would be wrong. In fact it was an Austrian ambassador to Emperor Ferdinand I named Busbeq who noticed the lovely things growing in the gardens in Constantinople in 1556... They henceforth became one of the most desired botanical item among the well-to-do in Europe. In the 1560s, a small number were exported to Hapsburg, Brussels, Augsburg, Paris, and Prague...

And back in the Ottoman Empire... from 1717 to 1730, Turkey was called the Tulip Era after the 'King of the bulbs'. Under the reign of Sultan Ahmed III, Burak Sansal describes this period as one of peace and enjoyment.

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