Turkey - Culture


Turkey has a very diverse culture that is a blend of various elements of the Oğuz Turkic, Anatolian, Ottoman (which was itself a continuation of both Greco-Roman and Islamic cultures) and Western culture and traditions, which started with the Westernisation of the Ottoman Empire and still continues today. This mix originally began as a result of the encounter of Turks and their culture with those of the peoples who were in their path during their migration from Central Asia to the West.

As Turkey successfully transformed from the religion-based former Ottoman Empire into a modern nation-state with a very strong separation of state and religion, an increase in the modes of artistic expression followed. During the first years of the republic, the government invested a large amount of resources into fine arts; such as museums, theatres, opera houses and architecture. Diverse historical factors play important roles in defining the modern Turkish identity. Turkish culture is a product of efforts to be a "modern" Western state, while maintaining traditional religious and historical values. The mix of cultural influences is dramatized, for example, in the form of the "new symbols of the clash and interlacing of cultures" enacted in the works of Orhan Pamuk, recipient of the 2006 Nobel Prize in Literature.

Turkish music and literature form great examples of such a mix of cultural influences, which were a result of the interaction between the Ottoman Empire and the Islamic world along with Europe, thus contributing to a blend of Turkic, Islamic and European traditions in modern-day Turkish music and literary arts. Turkish literature was heavily influenced by Persian and Arabic literature during most of the Ottoman era, though towards the end of the Ottoman Empire, particularly after the Tanzimat period, the effect of both Turkish folk and European literary traditions became increasingly felt. The Tanzimat reforms of 1839–1876 brought changes to the language of Ottoman written literature, and introduced previously unknown Western genres, primarily the novel and the short story. Many of the writers in the Tanzimat period wrote in several different genres simultaneously: for instance, the poet Nâmık Kemal also wrote the important 1876 novel İntibâh (Awakening), while the journalist Şinasi is noted for writing, in 1860, the first modern Turkish play, the one-act comedy "Şair Evlenmesi" (The Poet's Marriage). Most of the roots of modern Turkish literature were formed between the years 1896 and 1923. Broadly, there were three primary literary movements during this period: the Edebiyyât-ı Cedîde (New Literature) movement; the Fecr-i Âtî (Dawn of the Future) movement; and the Millî Edebiyyât (National Literature) movement. The Edebiyyât-ı Cedîde (New Literature) movement began with the founding in 1891 of the magazine Servet-i Fünûn (Scientific Wealth), which was largely devoted to progress (both intellectual and scientific) along the Western model. Accordingly, the magazine's literary ventures, under the direction of the poet Tevfik Fikret, were geared towards creating a Western-style "high art" in Turkey.

The first radical step of innovation in 20th century Turkish poetry was taken by Nâzım Hikmet, who introduced the free verse style. Another revolution in Turkish poetry came about in 1941 with the Garip Movement led by Orhan Veli Kanık, Melih Cevdet Anday and Oktay Rıfat. Explicitly opposing themselves to everything that had gone in poetry before, they sought instead to create a popular art. They employed not only a variant of the free verse introduced by Nâzım Hikmet, but also a highly colloquial language, and wrote primarily about mundane daily subjects and the ordinary man on the street. The reaction was immediate and polarized: most of the academic establishment and older poets vilified them, while much of the Turkish population embraced them wholeheartedly.

Architectural elements found in Turkey are also testaments to the unique mix of traditions that have influenced the region over the centuries. In addition to the traditional Byzantine elements present in numerous parts of Turkey, many artifacts of the later Ottoman architecture, with its exquisite blend of local and Islamic traditions, are to be found throughout the country, as well as in many former territories of the Ottoman Empire. Mimar Sinan is widely regarded as the greatest architect of the classical period in Ottoman architecture. Since the 18th century, Turkish architecture has been increasingly influenced by Western styles, and this can be particularly seen in Istanbul where buildings like Dolmabahçe and Çırağan Palaces are juxtaposed next to numerous modern skyscrapers, all of them representing different traditions.

Eurovision Song Contest 2003 was won by singer Sertab Erener with the song "Everyway That I Can" which was written by Erener and Demir Demirkan.

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