Published: Thu 13 Apr 2017

A rare silk carpet from the Ottoman Empire, made to commemorate the Turkish victory at Çanakkale, has been acquired by the Australian War Memorial.

The carpet was woven for Ottoman Minister of War Ismail Enver Pasha to commemorate the empire’s naval victory over a combined British and French attempt to breach the Dardanelles in March 1915. The repulse of the allied fleet led directly to the assault on the Gallipoli peninsula by British, Commonwealth, and French forces on 25 April, and the gruelling eight-month campaign that followed.

Woven entirely of silk, the carpet depicts Gallipoli’s principal battle sites in an outstanding example of late Ottoman textile art. Memorial Director Dr Brendan Nelson said it would add to the extensive collection of items relating to the Gallipoli campaign, being one of the few held by the Memorial that speaks from the Turkish perspective.

“It is vitally important, especially as we approach Anzac Day on 25 April that we as Australians reflect on all sides of the Gallipoli conflict. This acquisition demonstrates the Turkish response to the campaign and its importance within the history of modern Turkey. It will help foster a deeper understanding among Australian audiences of the international context of these events.”

Lettering in the carpet’s top left reads “5 March 1334”, an Islamic Rumi calendar date equivalent to 18 March 1918, a day now commemorated annually as Çanakkale Victory and Martyrs’ Day. At the bottom of the work are the words, “Given with gratitude to His Excellency and Majesty Enver Pasha, the illustrious Vice-Generalissimo and Minister of War”.

Enver Pasha was one of the leaders of the “Young Turk” revolution that overthrew the Ottoman Sultan Abdülhamit II in 1909. As Minister of War, he was supreme commander of Turkish forces during the Gallipoli campaign. His son Prince Sultanzade Captain Ali Enver Beyefendi migrated to Australia in the late 1960s and died in 1971.

Only two carpets of this design are said to have been commissioned. The carpet acquired by the Memorial was purchased by a private collector in the early 1980s from a person believed to be a descendant of Enver Pasha. The other, now on display in the Istanbul Military Museum, is believed to have been presented to either the Grand Vizier Talaat Pasha or Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the Turkish commander on Gallipoli and later the inaugural President of the Turkish Republic.

 

CONTACT: Greg Kimball      02 6243 4575/0409 600 038               media@awm.gov.au