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. 


Letter of Haseki Hurrem Sultan / Istanbul, 1549 29 x 17 cm Central Archives of Historical Records, Warsaw AGAD, inv. no. AKW, Dz. tur, k.68, t.110, no.219 / Hurrem expresses her joy on having received a friendly letter from King Sigismund Augustus. She assures the king that she constantly praises him in front of the Sultan. She attaches to the present letter a few small gifts.

Cushion cover / Ottoman (Bursa), late 17th century Silk yarn, cotton thread, gilt silver thread, cut velvet 69 x 148 cm National Museum, Kraków MNK, inv. no. XIX-4356

Chasuble / Ottoman, first half of 17th century (fabric) Italy or Poland, 16th-17th centuries (galloon) Polish, 20th century (lining) Silk, velvet (kemha) in two colours, gold and silver thread 105.8 x 62.5 cm Archdiocese Museum, Warsaw MAW, inv. no. 2664

Dalmatic / Istanbul, early 17th century Silk yarn, gold and silver thread; silver and gold galloons and lace from 17th century 107 x 110 cm Carmelite Sisters Convent, Kraków Inv. no. N/A

Pair of boots / Polish (?), Ottoman (?), first half of 18th century (?) Saffian, gold thread embroidery Height: 33 cm, length of sole: 38 cm Princes Czartoryski Foundation FXXCz, inv. no. XIII-3066

Water flask / (matara) Ottoman, second half of 16th century Coarse-finished leather, string of metal threads, black lacquer, gilding 23 x 24.5 x 14 cm National Museum, Warsaw MNW, inv. no. SKAZsz 2270

Map of the River Danube and the lands it traverses / [Ca 1:2 100 000] Nicolaes Visscher (1649-1702) Amstelodami (Amsterdam), c. 1683, Nicolaum Visscherum Copperplate engraving, coloured by hand 40 x 93.5 cm, folio: 52 x 95 cm National Library, Warsaw BN, inv. no. ZZK 7908

Sultan Mehmed IV and King Jan Kazimierz / Unidentified engraver Published by Hugo Allard Amsterdam, 1667 (?) Copperplate engraving on laid paper with watermark 25.3 x 34.5 cm Princes Czartoryski Foundation FXXCz, inv. no. XV R.2464 / The equestrian portrait of the two monarchs was probably executed to mark the renewed former alliance.

Medal commemorating Chocim / Eques Lucecenti 1674 Silver Diameter: 38.3 mm, weight 24.8 g National Museum, Kraków MNK, inv. no. VII-MdP-821 Presented to Pope Clemens X in commemoration of the Ottoman banner taken by the Poles at Chocim in 1673. / On the obverse a bust of the pope, on the reverse the presentation of the banner.

Gülnuş Sultan / Unknown artist c. 1800 Oil on canvas 82 x 67 cm Topkapı Palace Museum, Istanbul TSM, inv. no. 17/144 / Sultana of Mehmed IV; accompanied him on the Kamieniec Podolski and Chocim campaigns; gave birth to her son Ahmed during the Chocim campaign.

Karacena hussar armour / Poland, third quarter of 17th century Iron, brass, leather, velvet, gilt Full weight: 23 kg Polish Army Museum, Warsaw MWP, inv. no. 690/1-6

Ceremonial shield / Ottoman, 17th century Rotang palm stem, silver thread fabric, silver, gold wire, gilding, gemstones Diameter: 58 cm Princes Czartoryski Foundation FXXCz, inv. no. XIV-381 / Probably a war booty of Mikołaj Hieronim Sieniawski from Vienna.

The royal confirmation of the Treaty of Karłowice issued by King Augustus II / Warsaw, 24 August 1699 Arms of Poland, Lithuania and Saxony at top section of the document Original document in Latin 68.5 x 82 cm Central Archives of Historical Records, Warsaw AGAD, inv. no. AKW, parchment documents, 5418