Saturday, April 5, 2008

Crimean Tatar Traditional Arts

As you may remember from class, the Crimean Tatars are currently a small minority in Crimea (~6% of the population), but their group used to dominate the region. They were forced to leave in 1944 because Stalin believed that they had cooperated with the German forces. 50 years later, they have begun to return to their homeland. There has been a recent growth in Crimean Tatar non-governmental organizations (NGOs), some of which are trying to promote Crimean traditions.

I was interested in finding out about the Crimean Tatar traditions, especially artistic ones, since they weren't covered in class. To me, artwork is a powerful way of representing a culture's richness, history, and ideology. The revival of Crimean Tatar traditions, especially in the arts, will give future Crimean Tatars something to be proud of, something to show off when someone asks them about their history/ancestors.

Tatar Clothing

The people depicted in this picture are wearing traditional outfits. Women traditionally wear a long dress, while men wear baggy pants (Shalvar) and cloaks. The white scarf on the woman and black headgear on the man in the middle (called "kalpak") are traditional headgear.

Tatar Decorative Arts - Embroidery

(picture of women's headdress)
There are many beautiful objects that you should look at
here. Most interesting, to me, is the embroidery in gold thread that adorns most objects. There has been a project started by Ayshe Osmanova, to teach Crimean Tatar women how to do this type of embroidery, an art that had almost disappeared. According to her, traditional embroidery motifs are simple. For example:

"One common ornament is the 'nar,' which translates as the fruit 'pomegranate.' The nar has a grain inside that is sweet. This design is embroidered almost on all ornaments, whether they are for men, women or children. It's like a talisman and is closely linked to the family. The grain itself refers to the people in the family, which should be healthy and harmonious. The design is divided into squares to refer to the house where they all live. " (see first link below)

Tatar Architecture
Tatar architecture shows clear Islamic influence. A following buildings below show off Crimean Tatar architecture. (All information from the Crimean Tatar Architecture link = link #4)

Özbek Han Mosque
Eski Kirim (Stariy Qrim), Crimea
This is the oldest Islamic building in Crimea, located in a city known as Solhat (former capital of Crimean Khans until early 16th century). It has similar architectural features to mosques in Anatolia during the Seljuk period with its square floor plan and monumental entrance with a carved wooder door. A Medrese (Islamic school) used to be next to the southern wall of this mosque, which remains can be seen from the rear of the mosque.

Palace of the Khans (Han Saray)
Bahçesaray (Bakhchisarai), Crimea
Bahçesaray was the capital of the Crimean Khanate from the early 16th century until Russian annexation in 1783. Built by Mengli Giray in the early 16th century, this palace was the residence and administrative center of the Crimean Khanate. The palace has the "State Council's Hall (Divan), reception halls, administrative and service quarters, guest rooms, the Harem, gardens, a mosque, a private chapel (mescit), and a cemetery for the Giray family" (see fourth link below). The Palace was rebuilt after the 1736 Russian attack on the city, so most of the structures are from 1737-1743. The oldest part is the Iron Gate, designed by an Italian architect in Renaissance style. The Fountain of Tears is located within an enclosed courtyard outside of the Council's Hall. After Russian annexation, the building was renovated by architects and artisans who weren't familiar with Islamic art and architecture, so today there is a great interest in restoring the palace to its original state.

Khan Mosque (Han Camii)
Gözleve or Kezlev (Yevpatoria), Crimea
As one of the few Tatar buildings that survived Russian domination, this building from the 1550s was designed by Ottoman architect Sinan and modeled after the original Fatih Mosque of Istanbul. It has one central dome, one half-dome, and three smaller domes to each side. The entrance is a wooden door on the north side. The front facade is an arcade with five smaller domes. In the 1980s, the Russians used it as a museum of archaeology, but the Tatars reclaimed it in 1990. The structure has gone through extensive renovation and restoration in order to it into a mosque again.

Ukraine: Tatar Women Rediscover Their Roots
Crimean Tatar NGOs
Crimean Tatars - most of info and all pictures from this site
Crimean Tatar Architecture

1 comment:

Steve Taylor said...

I didn't know the Crimean Tartars were deported by Stalin for supposedly helping the Germans in WWII. I'm writing a paper on Chechnya, and they (the entire population of 350,000) was deported east by Stalin because of their helping of the Germans (even though many Chechens were fighting for the Soviets at the time.) It is impressive that they had the resources and desire to execute these deportations in the midst of war. It seems like there was quite a bit of it going on. I wonder what other ethnicities Stalin screwed around with.

I also liked reading about the Crimean Muslim architecture and the kind of culture clashes that came about with the Russians. It's always interesting when a part of a country or region has its roots from elsewhere and doesn't quite mesh.