New show to look at history of Japanese-Ottoman relations
An exhibition of Japanese items reflecting the little-known history of Ottoman-Japanese relations in the late 19th and early 20th centuries will go on display this week at the Dolmabahce Art Gallery in Istanbul's Besiktas district. The Ottoman Empire is often thought of in purely local terms -- either Middle Eastern or European -- rather than as a player in the global politics of the era. However, like other empires of its period, its interests extended across the Eurasian landmass, as did its political connections. Relations between the empire and Japan, which are generally associated with the reign of Sultan Abdulhamid II, are particularly reflective of this neglected aspect of Ottoman history. These relations were given an unlikely boost by the wreck of the Ottoman frigate Ertugrul, which had been dispatched to Japan on a diplomatic mission, off the Japanese coast in 1890. The goodwill created by the Japanese response to this incident led to many gift exchanges between the two states. Many of these items, ranging from tea sets to furniture, will be on display in the new exhibition, giving visitors a chance to see this history in person. The exhibition, put together by researchers at the Turkish National Palaces Administration and Bogazici University, will open on Friday.