The Hamidian Quest for Tribal Origins

Episode 379

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How did the Ottomans come to visually represent their mythical origins? And to what ends? In this episode we speak with Ahmet Ersoy and Deniz Türker about the formation, development, and visualization of Ertuğrul sancak, the mythical birthplace of the Ottoman dynasty. In 1886, Sultan Abdülhamid II commissioned an expedition of military photographers, painters, and cartographers to record the region, its architecture, and its nomadic tribes. Ersoy and Türker talk to us this mission and its economic and diplomatic ramifications, drawing on their recent exhibition, Ottoman Arcadia, at the Koç University Research Center for Anatolian Civilizations in Istanbul. Our discussion touches on the proliferation and dissemination of visual materials during the reign of Abdülhamid II (1876-1909), as well as his massive collection of visual materials held today as part of the Yıldız Palace Library.

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Contributor Bios

Deniz Türker is a postdoctoral fellow at Cambridge University's Centre of Islamic Studies. A specialist of late-Ottoman art and architecture, her various research interests are centred on domestic spaces, gardens and landscapes, as well as collecting trends and the shape and nature of archives.
Ahmet Ersoy is Associate Professor at the History Department at Boğaziçi University, Istanbul. His work deals with the history of the Late Ottoman Empire with a special focus on the changing role and status of visual culture during a period of westernizing change.
Matthew Ghazarian is a Ph.D. Candidate in Columbia University's Department of Middle Eastern, South Asian, African Studies. His research focuses on the intersections of sectarianism, humanitarianism, and political economy in central and eastern Anatolia between 1856 and 1893.
Zeinab Azarbadegan is a PhD candidate in International and Global History at Columbia University. She is currently conducting research for her dissertation project on the subject of sovereignty and citizenship in nineteenth century Ottoman Iraq.


Episode No. 379
Release Date: 18 September 2018
Recording Location: Istanbul
Audio editing by Matthew Ghazarian
Music: Istanbul'dan Ayva Gelir Nar Gelir - Azize Tozem and Sari Recep
Harmandali - Recep Efendi, Cemal Efendi
Images and bibliography courtesy of Ahmet Ersoy and Deniz Türker


The town of Inönü, Albums Gifted to Bismarck by Abdulhamid II, Ömer M. Koç Collection
Söğüt Tursun Fakih Mausoleum. Charcoal drawing from the 1886 Expedition. Istanbul University, Rare Works Collection, 779.70.
Yörüks in the vicinity of Bozüyük, Albums Gifted to Bismarck by Abdulhamid II, Ömer M. Koç Collection 3
Shaikh Edebali's Mausoleum in Eskişehir. Albums gifted by Abdülhamid tp Bismarck, Ömer M. Koç Collection.

Select Bibliography

Çelik, Zeynep and Edhem Eldem. Camera Ottomana: Photography and Modernity in the Ottoman Empire, 1840-1914 (Istanbul: Koç University Publications, 2014).

Christensen, Peter H. Germany and the Ottoman Railways: Art, Empire and Infrastructure (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2017).

Darga, A. Muhibbe (ed.), İstanbul’dan Asya-yı Vusta’ya Seyahat: Seyyah Mehmed Emin Efendi’nin Seyahatnamesi (Istanbul: Everest, 2007).

Deringil, Selim. The Well-Protected Domains: Ideology and the Legitimation of Power in the Ottoman Empire 1876-1909 (London: IB Tauris, 1999).

Ersoy, Ahmet. “Ottomans and the Kodak Galaxy: Archiving Everyday Life and Historical Space in Ottoman Illustrated Journals,” in History of Photography, 40:3 (2016): 330-357.

Ertem, Özge and Bahattin Öztuncay, Ottoman Arcadia: The Hamidian Expedition to the Land of Tribal Roots (Istanbul: ANAMED, 2018).

Gavin, Carney E.S. Imperial Self-Portrait: The Ottoman Empire as Revealed in the Sultan Abdul-Hamid II’s Photographic Albums (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1989).

Konyalı, İbrahim Hakkı. Söğüt’te Ertuğrul Gazi Türbesi ve İhtifali (İstanbul: Sinan Matbaası, 1959).

Öztuncay, Bahattin. The Photographers of Constantinople, Pioneers, Studios and Artists from 19th-Century Istanbul, v. 1 (Istanbul: Aygaz, 2006).


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