Mariners’ Gravestones in Ottoman Empire

First and foremost Istanbul / Turkey, whatever the city you visit taking cognizance of Ottoman Empire, you will see limitless graveyards of large and small quilted turban expecting for precious prayers along some streets. These graveyards have been harmonised within the city blooming bewitched spirit and we wonder the breathe of each through the history.

Gerard de Nerval the famous writer and traveller states such saying having visited İstanbul and these graveyards:

We are in a very beautiful and cool place near the Bosphorus. I guess need I say no more to state that this place is a graveyard. All the areas to visit and appreciate in İstanbul are graveyards.

Ottoman Graveyards with a field of view in a breeze does literally whisper to remark the human being that we are all passengers and this world is temporary for us with mortal souls and will eventually pass away. In Ottoman Empire, life is thoroughly intertwined with the reaper that the livings may have an ending to be buried in the gardens of houses or near the mosque visited alive.

Ottoman Graveyards are so special work of art that you will see them as outdoor museums. The gravestones at the head of each graveyard decorated with splendid figures do remarkably illustrate some information about the one passed away.

It is in general likely to know about the occupation of the one by means of the symbols. For instance on a gravestone of a mariner you will see an anchor, a mast or sail and an a pen and ink on a gravestone for a stenographer.

In Miss Julie Pardoe’s work of art published during Crimean War, the portrait is illustrated of officers in allied British Navy anchored at Büyükdere and them visiting Karacaahmet Graveyard (İstanbul / Turkey) on Sunday, appreciated monumental gravestones and once for all carrying to ships.

This portrait illustrating the mariners in British Navy is not just one instance of pillage regarding the admiration to this wonderful and unique prosperity Ottoman Graveyards and ultimately detachment of parts in order to bring to their own country. As a result of negligence and dreadful demolition in due course many works of art are in the end lost. By virtue of historical and artistic activities recently increasing, the protection and betterment rise, which is quite rewarding in particular. Mariners’ Gravestones of more than 300 pieces ascertained by Turkish Naval Force are in this regard put under protection.

One of the significant features on Mariners’ Gravestones is the manipulation of a symbol or theme. These can be described as masts, sail, ropes, anchor and Ottoman Navy Rigging. In addition, the figuration of a broken mast is in a sense related to the ending of life of the one in the grave. At the same time, some of sarcophaguses are such imitations of vessel figure. These are covered by ropes and anchor chains.

The places you will mostly come across with mariners’ graveyards are the areas where Kılıç Ali Pasha, Barbarossa Hayreddin Pasha, Piyale Pasha, Lala Mustafa Pasha are lying under the sod.

Mariner Graveyards may on occasion be placed within family hall (Eyüp – Tunuslu Hayreddin Pasha Family Hall), and sometimes singly among the public graveyard.

Translation By: Burak Konakoglu

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