Thursday, May 22, 2008

First cover from Turkey

Yes ! Again a “first” for today. My first cover from Turkey ! What a week ;-)

I must admit that looking for information about both stamps of this cover helped me to learn a lot about the subject they picture.
Let’s start by the oldest stamp, the one located on the right. It was issued on the 13th of September and belongs to a set of three stamps. The subject of the set is : Turkish cultural assets – Shadow play characters. The shadow theatre is a puppet heather that involves two-dimensional figures casting their shadows on a screen. It had an important place in Turkey as well as throughout the larger area of the Ottoman Empire. A long–standing puppet tradition has been established by the Turks even before the sixteenth century, when the shadow theatre was introduced. There is virtually no kind of puppet show that Turkey has not tried. Puppet tradition came from Central Asia, but shadow theatre did not. It was borrowed from Egypt. One question remains however about the origin of the Egyptian shadow theatre. The three stamps of the set pictures characters of this shadow theatre. Let me show you the stamps, one by one, and give you some background information about the characters that are pictured.

Karagoz and Hacivat :
Karagoz is supposed to be a gypsy. Karagoz has a round face, his have a large black pupil, hence his name “Black Eye”. He has a pug nose and a curly black beard. His head is completely bald and he wears an enormous turban which always trigger laughter when it falls. Hacivat is a reflective character with a pointed turned-up beard. He always uses an erudite language whereas Karagoz uses the language of the common people. Hacivat can recite famous poems, he has a vast knowledge of music, he knows the names of various rare spices, the terminology of gardening. Each movement of Harcivat is well calculated. Karagoz, on the contrary is impulsive. Where Hacivat is always ready to accept the situation and maintain the status quo and establishment, Karagoz is always eager to try out new ideas and he constantly misbehaves himself.

Tuzsuz Deli Bekir and Efe : (the stamp of the cover)
Tuzsuz Deli Bekir is a drunkard that always blusters and threatens, carrying a sword and spreading terror. Efe is a swashbuckling character from the Western coast of Turkey. He wears an embroidered jacket which is so short that it barely reaches his elbows, and a high fez. Across his back is his long gun. He tries to restore discipline in the neighbourhood all by himself and is usually a man of good intentions.

Tiryaki and Celebi :
Tiryaki is and opium addict. He spends all his time smoking opium and. He can easily be identified by his pipe. He is a flippant type but always tries to look serious.
Celebi is usually presented in a sympathetic light. He is not caricatured as are so many of the other characters. He is a dandified young man whose love for a courtesan or a girl of good family is usually the subject of the play. He is a young and rich man, who assumes a careful and rather self-conscious elegance of dress. He is dressed in European style. He speaks with an educated Istanbul accent.

The second stamp of the cover was issued on the 7th of February 2008. It belongs to a set of four commemorating the 800th anniversary of the birth of Nasreddin Hodja. Here is the full set.
Nasreddin Hodja is a legendary satirical sufi figure who lived during the Middle Ages (around 13th century) in Turkey (in Akşehir and later in Konya). He was a populist philosopher and wise man. He is remembered for his funny stories and anecdotes.
The stories of Nasreddin are known throughout the Middle East and have touched a lot of cultures around the world. A Nasreddin story may be understood at many levels. There is the joke, followed by a moral and usually ae little extra which brings the consciousness of the potential mystic a little further on the way to realization.
The oldest manuscript of Nasreddin was found in 1571. If you are interested to know more about him and his tales, you can check HERE.
I could not really find information about the stamps themselves : what do they really picture ? Do they illustrate some tales of Nasreddin Hodja ? Do they picture events in his life ? If somebody is able to tell me more I will be very happy !

1 comment:

Edmund said...

Hi, I have posted description of the 4 stamps. You can check them out in my blog at