by Emin PAMUCAK
Cary, North Carolina
During the last decade several prominent Turkish business families
like Koç, Sabanci,
Eczacibasi and Sahenk have consistently
made the annual Forbes 500 Richest People
of the World list.
With riches to share, basic philanthropy
has always been part of their philosophy
from the early days of success.
Recently though, their interests
in arts coupled with healthy family foundations
has given art lovers several world class
museums in Istanbul. Some examples are Sabanci's "Atli Kosk"
and Eczacibasi's "Istanbul Modern
Sanat," both located along the beautiful
The latest addition to this list
is the new "Pera Museum,"
founded by Suna and Inan Kirac of the
Without a doubt, the jewel of the Pera Museum is the "Turtle
Trainer" (Kamplubaga Terbiyecisi),
a celebrated 1906 painting by Osman Hamdi
In December 2004, the "Turtle Trainer" was auctioned
to the Suna and Inan Kirac Foundation
for a record $3.5M and has been on public
display at the new Pera Museum since its
opening in June, 2005. It is part of the museum's "Portraits
from the Empire" collection, also
known as Orientalist Genre paintings,
depicting the opulent Ottoman world in
and Inan Kiraç
Osman Hamdi Bey was a contemporary Ottoman man of his time. The
son of a one time Grand Vizier (as well
as a career statesman, minister and diplomat)
Osman Hamdi was born in Istanbul in 1842. Although he was sent to Paris to study law, he abandoned
his studies to follow his talent and passion
for the arts at the Paris Academy of Fine
Arts. 12 years later he returned to his
country as an artist instead of as a member
of the Bar.
He was regarded as an intellectual
and led the implementation and modernization
of important cultural movements and imperial
institutions in Archeology and Museology.
He also established the first
School of Fine Arts (Guzel Sanatlar
Akademisi) in Istanbul and was its director
for the first 28 years.
His art and outlook on life was inspired by western influences
and he had a unique ability in comfortably
harmonizing these influences with the
cultural backdrop he represented.
Fusion of cultures and societal
advancement were among his passions, and
it is well known that this push for change
and the duality it forced on the Ottoman
society was in fact paradoxically painful
for him. The "Turtle Trainer" is one
of Osman Hamdi Bey's most original and
creative works. It subtly portrays this
basic social message:
that change is difficult, requiring
much patience, in fact the patience of
a sufi dervish.
The five turtles in this portrait symbolize a stubborn, resistant
and slow changing society. Some even believe that they represent the five most difficult
associates of Osman Hamdi, giving him
heartburn. The turtle trainer, dressed in a red dervish
robe and a turban, holding a ney (sufi
flute) is Osman Hamdi, representing a
patient intellectual that is coaching
change. A change he hopes to teach primarily
by blowing his ney and occasionally by
using it to prod or reprimand the animals.
Unfortunately, the turtles have
no ears to hear the ney and with a thick
protective shell they are also not bothered
by his prodding.
His efforts are futile.
Osman Hamdi Bey's calls for westernization
are met by deaf ears and much resistance
by the establishment and the conservative
of Emin Pamucak:
Emin Pamucak was born in 1959 in Kutahya,
Turkey to immigrant families from Ottoman
Turkish towns in Bulgaria and Greece.
After receiving his elementary school
education in Karadeniz Ereglisi and Ankara,
Emin attended middle school and high school
in suburban metropolitan Washington, D.C.
He holds BS and MS degrees in engineering
from Bogazici University and University
of Maryland. Employed by IBM since 1984,
he has worked at company locations in
Minnesota, New York, Connecticut and most
recently North Carolina.
A firm believer in "by and for"
grassroots civic representation, Emin
is involved in community development and
advocacy with emphasis in promoting cross
cultural diversity, citizen diplomacy
and social responsibility. He feels privileged
to be a product of two cultures and has
been an active member of ATA North Carolina
since 1996, serving his community as the
President of the Association for the last
three years. He has received Association's
Distinguished Member and Distinguished
Leader Awards. In 2004, ATA North Carolina
was recognized as ATAA's Component Association
of the Year. Currently, Emin is serving
the Turkish-American community as ATAA
Vice President for the South Eastern United
States. He is a founding member and the
current president of Bridge to Turkiye
Fund, which is a North Carolina based
US charitable organization focused on
improving the underprivileged segments
of Turkish society. Emin also serves on
the advisory boards of Young Guru Academy
of Istanbu!l! , Turkey and Friends of
Anatolia of Stanford, CA. He is happily
married to Ayse and is the father of Ayca,
a freshman at UNC-Chapel Hill.