Sunday, December 14, 2008

Bayram and Topkapı Palace

This past week was one of the most important Muslim religious holidays, Kurban Bayramı. This Bayram commemorates the willingness of Abraham to sacrifice his son. In the Muslim tradition, the son that he was commanded to sacrifice was Ishmael, as opposed to Isaac as in the Biblical version of the same story. For devout Muslims, participating in Kurban sacrifices indicates their willingness to make sacrifices in the name of Allah. Although the meaning is figurative -- that is, they are signaling their willingness to sacrifice money, time, pride, and other intangibles, the sacrifices themselves are very real animal sacrifices.

Because Candace's dissertation deals with the sensory experience of the worship of the Roman emperors, which included blood sacrifice, this Bayram presented an amazing opportunity to really experience animal sacrifice in a way that is not possible in the United States. One of the Senior Fellows, Sait, was kind enough to arrange for a representative from the Department of Health, which oversees the sacrifices, to take us to one of the sacrificial sites.

Due to the graphic nature of the sacrifices we have decided not to blog about them. If anyone is interested in knowing more about it, or seeing pictures, let us know by email or posting a comment here.

Besides the sacrifices, Bayram is also a week-long holiday from work and school, and our neighborhood is a very popular one for holiday shopping and hanging out. Locals and tourists from other areas of Turkey come to Istanbul for the holidays, and many of them visit our street. Here are a couple of pictures to show the number of people that were here on our street over the last week!

Besides Bayram, not a lot has been going on here. The break was a good time for both of us to get some work done (Candace on her research, Peter on his artwork).

We also wanted to share some of Peter's pictures from our visit to Topkapı Palace a few weeks ago. Topkapı was the home of the sultans and their families from the 16th through the late 19th centuries, and is the location of the famous harem of the Ottoman royalty. There is much to see there. Besides the gorgeous architecture, Topkapı is the location of the treasuries that house the collections of jewels and other luxury objects collected by the sultans, as well as religious relics of Mohammad and other figures revered is Islam (such as Jacob and John the Baptist). There are also displays of armor and weapons of both the Ottoman armies and their historical allies and enemies. Rather than writing a lengthy discussion of the palace, we thought we would just post a few photos of our visit.

Main gate of the palace.

A model of the palace complex.

Tower on top of the divan, the room where the sultan and his advisors made governing decisions and received ambassadors.


The "throne room."

An interesting architectural design.

A luxurious room that includes typical examples of Ottoman stained glass, tilework, and woodwork inlaid with mother-of-pearl..

Interesting shadow on the tiles.

A passageway.

Candace in the interior courtyard of the harem. Τhose of you who have visited Topkapı realize how AWESOME it is that there is no one else in this picture!

One of the "harem women."


A man where he belongs!

Candace in the passageway outside the kitchens.

1 comment:

SundayST said...

Your pictures are absolutely beautiful. I think you should submit some (the shepherd, for example, in a previous post) to Time or some magazine that does a photo contest. Do whatever you have to in order to copyright them first.