Turkish Art & Culture: Past & Present
Turkey has a very ancient folk dance tradition, which varies from region to region, each dance being colorful, rhythmic, elegant and stylish. Folklore has also had a considerable influence on ballet. First imported from Europe and Russia, ballet became institutionalized in the Republican era along with other performing arts.
Turkish music evolved from the original folk form into classical through the emergence of a Palace culture. Turkish music, locally called Turkish Classical Music, is a variation of the national musical tradition, played with instruments such as the tambur, kanun, ney and ud.
Folk music has developed gradually over the centuries in the rural areas of Turkey. It is highly diversified with many different rhythms and themes.
THEATRE AND CINEMA
Turkish theatre is thought to have originated from the popular Karagöz shadow plays, a cross between moralistic Punch and Judy and the slapstick Laurel and Hardy. It then developed along an oral tradition, with plays performed in public places, such as coffee houses and gardens, exclusively by male actors.
Atatürk gave great importance to the arts, and actively encouraged theatre, music and ballet, prompting the foundation of many state institutions. Turkey today boasts a thriving arts scene, with highly professional theatre, opera and ballet companies, as well as a flourishing film industry.
Until the 18th century, painting in Turkey was mainly in the form of miniatures, usually linked to books in the form of manuscript illustrations. In the 18th century, trends shifted towards oil painting, beginning with murals. Art exhibitions in Turkey’s cities multiplied, more and more people started to acquire paintings, and banks, and companies began investing in art.
Literature has long been an important component of Turkish cultural life, reflecting the history of the people, their legends, their mysticism, and the political and social changes that affected this land throughout its long history. During the Ottoman period, the prevailing literary form was poetry; the dominant dialect was Anatolian or Ottoman, and the main subject beauty and romance. The Ottoman Divan literature was highly influenced by Persian culture and written in a dialect, which combined Arabic, Persian and Turkish. Separate from the aristocratic Divan literature, folk literature continued to dominate Anatolia where troubadour-like poets celebrated nature, love and God in simple Turkish language. Towards the 20th century, the language of Turkish literature became simpler and more political and social in substance.
The Nobel Prize in Literature for 2006 was awarded to the Turkish writer Orhan Pamuk who in the quest for the melancholic soul of his native city discovered new symbols for the clash and interlacing of cultures.