Culture & Art


Culture & Art

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.


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.


As The Qur’an was complied into a book, many scribes were trained to preserve the revelation in the best possible way. In compliance with the utmost importance Islam gave to science and literature, the art of writing has developed significantly to become a distinguished branch of fine arts. 


 The art of Calligraphy has reached today's standards after undergoing various transformations throughout centuries, bringing invaluable works into existence. Turkish Calligraphy is the combination of letters of Latin alphabet which were adopted as of the foundation of the Turkish Republic in the 20th Century, with the art of Islamic Calligraphy (Husn-i Hat).


 Paper marbling is a method of aqueous surface design, which can produce patterns similar to smooth marble or other stone. The patterns are the result of color floated on either plain water or a viscous solution known as size, and then carefully transferred to an absorbent surface, such as paper or fabric.One of the method of marbling more familiar to Europeans and Americans is made on the surface of a viscous mucilage, known as size or sizing in English. This method is commonly referred to as "Turkish" marbling, although ethnic Turkic peoples were not the only practitioners of the art, as Persian Tajiks and people of Indian origin also made these papers. The term "Turkish" was most likely used as a reference to the fact that many Europeans first encountered the art in Istanbul.


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.