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Distant Neighbour Close Memories - 600 year of ...

Distant Neighbour Close Memories - 600 year of ...

Sabancı University’s Sakıp Sabancı Museum is hosting the “Distant Neighbour Close Memories: 600th Anniversary of Turkish - Polish Relations” exhibition on 7 March – 15 June 2014 to commemorate the 600th anniversary of relations between Turkey and Poland. 

The exhibition is opening under the patronage of the presidents of Turkey and Poland, supported by the ministries of foreign affairs and culture in both countries, with exhibits loaned from the collections of museums, archives, libraries, monasteries and churches in Poland, together with objects from Topkapı Palace Museum, the Museum of Turkish and Islamic Art and Sadberk Hanım Museum in Turkey, making a total of 348 exhibits.

The exhibition has been organized with the financial and institutional support of Sakıp Sabancı Museum and its esteemed sponsors and the Minister of Culture and National Heritage of the Republic of Poland. It is accompanied by a wide range of cultural and art events. 

The “Distant Neighbour Close Memories: 600th Anniversary of Turkish - Polish Relations” exhibition covers a period beginning in the first half of the 15th century and continuing with trade, peace and war up to the late 17th century, when the Second Siege of Vienna became a turning point not just in relations between Ottoman Turkey and Poland, but in the history of Europe.

In this context, historical developments in the Ottoman Empire and the Kingdom of Poland are reflected in documents, maps, paintings, personal possessions of eminent figures, accessories and printed material. The exhibition presents visitors with examples of trade goods, and Ottoman tents, weapons and other artefacts abandoned after the army’s defeat at the Siege of Vienna, alongside objects that illustrate the border clashes and other stages leading up to the siege.

In the wake of the Treaty of Carlowitz, Poland and the Ottoman state, which over the centuries had shared the stage of history sometimes as neighbours and sometimes as enemies, now shared a similar fate, despite one being on the losing and the other on the winning side. While the Ottoman state went into decline, struggling for survival by diplomacy or war as circumstances required; the kingdom of Poland was attacked by Austria, Prussia and Russia, its powerful neighbours and former allies at the victory of Vienna, which now seized vast tracts of Polish territory in both east and west. Finally in 1795 the country was partitioned by these powers and Poland ceased to be an independent state. 

The Ottoman state refused to recognize the right of the invading powers to partition Poland and in palace protocol the place of the Polish ambassador was preserved. On formal state occasions it was always declared that the Polish ambassador was “delayed on his journey and so unable to attend”. During this period the wars of the past were forgotten as and Polish political refugees who included members of diverse political groups attempting to restore the country’s independence, intellectuals, high ranking officers, soldiers and diplomats received their most steadfast support from the Ottoman state. A Polish batallion made up of political refugees and known as the Sultan’s Cossacks fought side by side with Ottoman soldiers against Russia on several occasions, notably in the Crimean War of 1853-1856. Some of these people are known to have played influential roles in Ottoman reform movements. This period is illustrated by documents, paintings and other diverse objects.