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Turkey: Seeking New Cultural Balance

The selfie-taking statue of an Ottoman prince is cordoned off by police after it was vandalized the day after it was erected. (Photo: Amasya Police Department)

Turks’ growing fascination with the past, a phenomenon known as Ottomania, is taking a strange turn with the unveiling of a statue of an Ottoman prince taking a selfie in the Black Sea town of Amasya.
 
The statue, unveiled by the town’s municipality on May 9, depicts a turban-clad figure with one hand on the hilt of a sword and the other holding a smartphone aloft.
 
Photos of the statue – named Şehzade, a title given to Ottoman crown princes – surfaced online within minutes of its unveiling, generating huge interest, a steady stream of amused tourists and locals, and some detractors. Within days, its sword and phone had been snapped off by vandals, and it had been given its own police guard.
 
With Turkey’s once-denigrated imperial heritage now experiencing a revival of public interest, the Amasya statue’s unveiling has become the latest in a series of instances in which Ottoman culture was the object of ridicule, reverence and tension.
 

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Alexander Christie-Miller is a freelance reporter based in Istanbul.

Turkey: Seeking New Cultural Balance

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