What is the symbol of Istanbul, the tulip?

Tulip is one of the rare flowers that has survived from the Ottoman period and has many meanings. The first flower that comes to mind when Istanbul is mentioned is tulips.

Tulip is a noble flower that smiles at people with its delicate nature from spring to autumn. The tulip, whose homeland is Anatolia, spread to Europe during the Ottoman period. It is one of the rare flowers that everyone watches fondly, has meanings according to its colors and has dozens of types. The tulip is a proud flower and has a noble history.

It is an ornamental plant that has various meanings in Turkish culture and Islam and has witnessed many periods. Its traces can be found in many fields from architecture to literature, from tiles to fabrics. It is the first flower that comes to mind when Istanbul is mentioned. It is a flower for which a festival is organized in Turkey, and although it spread to Europe from the Ottoman Empire, it is owned by the Netherlands and cannot be shared. Cannot be shared; because it has a perfect appearance that everyone who sees it admires. The tulip fields are enchanting while watching them like a carpet laid on the ground.

Sometimes words are not enough to describe the tulip that deserves such praise. Let’s try to explain though!

Characteristics of Tulip

Tulip is an ornamental plant of Tulipa genus from Lily family. It is a bulbous and perennial herbaceous. There is a membranous cover over the onions. Its leaves are lanceolate and long, its flowers are goblet-shaped. Its flowers are glossy six-petaled, one-cot. It is a multi-seeded plant. It has capsule-shaped fruits. Crocus and lily are close relatives. It is mainly used for decorations in gardens and parks. It is also a nice gift in bouquets and arrangements.

The tulip tree, on the other hand, is a tree from the Magnolia family, whose homeland is South America. This name was given because its flower and leaf resemble tulips in appearance. Apart from its visual resemblance, it is not related to the tulip flower.

Tulip, Literature and the Ottoman Empire

Tulip has an important place in our literary history. It was first used by Mevlana in poetry and literature.

The meaning of “praying” is also attributed, as the tulip leaves are shaped as if the hand is opened upwards. It is used in the meaning of ‘wine glass’ and ‘wound on the lover’s chest’ in Divan literature. In the Ottoman Empire, the decoration and architectural elements in which the tulip motif was applied were called “tulip style”. Tulip figures were used in the clothes of the sultans, from their caftans to their shoes.

The tulip was so valued in the Ottoman period that hundreds of varieties were produced. Resplendent names have been given, such as ruby ​​light, white light, the lover’s face, spring morning, and the arrow of the rose garden. In fact, the tulip bulb known as ‘Duhteri’ or ‘Maiden’ brought from Iran was worth a thousand gold coins. Even an academy called ‘Çiçek Endümen-i Daniş’ was established.

As a dictionary meaning, apart from flowers, the ring worn around the prisoners’ necks and the forked wand used to collect fruit are also called tulips. There are those who call the poppy flower that grows in the countryside as a poppy tulip or tulip. There are also some words derived from the word “tulip”. These words are; Tulip: Tulip vase, Lalehadd: Tulip cheeks, Lalefam, Lalereng and Tulipgun: Tulip colored, Lalename: Treatise containing poems and prose written for Tulip, Lalegül: A mode and female name in Turkish Music, Tulip: Tulip vase, Tulip: Istanbul also a district, Laleruh: Tulip-cheeked, A Turkish Music maqam, Laleveş: Like Tulip, Lalezar: Tulip garden, Lalezari: Tulip garden owner…

Tulips are also used to express emotions.

Yellow tulip; while representing love and tolerance, red tulip; It is a reflection of the phrase ‘I love you’. White tulip; purity and cleanliness, if the pink tulip; It includes the meanings of compassion and loyalty.

The tulip figure, which is used in many buildings, objects and areas such as tiles, fabrics, carpets and rugs, and jewellery, maintains its importance as a figure that artisans cannot give up and enjoy embroidering from past to present.

The Spread of the Tulip to Europe

The tulip spread to Europe from the Ottoman Empire. However, there are rumors that its original homeland was Central Asia and that it was brought to Anatolia by the Turks. Tulip figures were used in Anatolia in the 12th century. Between the 16th and 18th centuries, the tulip lived its most glorious years in the Ottoman Empire.

The first tulip bulb was taken from Istanbul to Vienna by the German diplomat Busbecq in 1562. He then moved on to the Netherlands, then to Ottawa, Canada. Since then, the Netherlands has embraced the tulip so much that today it earns a considerable income from tulip exports.

The Netherlands, Ottawa and Japan protect the tulip and use it to promote the country and generate tourism income with many activities.

Inverted Tulip

The homeland of the inverted tulip, which is one of the endemic plants of Anatolian geography, is Hakkari. It is named like ‘Hakkari tulip’ and ‘Semdinli tulip’. It is usually yellow and orange in color. Its height is between 60-80 centimeters. It is used as an additive in the pharmaceutical and cosmetic industry in Europe. It is estimated that there are 165 species of inverted tulips in the world.

It is considered sacred in many religions. It is known as the symbol of sadness. According to Christian belief, the inverted tulip, Hz. Witnessing the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. It started to grow where Meryem’s tears fell. According to Muslims, Hz. Due to the martyrdom of Hasan and Hüseyin, the heads of the tulips were bent. It is also rumored that it is the symbol of Ferhat and Şirin’s inability to reunite. It is grown in graves as a symbol of sadness in Hakkari and Van. It is also known as the ‘weeping tulip’ in Anatolia.

It was spread by a French botanist in the 19th century.

Reverse Tulip and Selimiye Mosque

An inverted tulip story also happened in Selimiye Mosque in Edirne. The inverted tulip figure, the size of a sparrow, engraved on one of the marble legs of the muezzin mahfil, is an interesting figure that those who visit Selimiye want to see more than the mosque. Well, why did Mimar Sinan have an inverted tulip figure made here?

According to rumors, the area where the muezzin’s lodge was located was the land of a woman named Lale. Despite many gold offers, the woman did not want to sell her land, she. Finally she said, ‘If you put something here that will make me remember as long as the mosque stands, I will agree to sell it’. Thereupon, a tulip figure was made on one of the legs of the mahfil; however, the tulip is depicted upside down to indicate the woman’s opposite.

By the way, let’s also mention that there are 98 kinds of tulip figures on the tiles in Selimiye. There are 99 tulip figures along with the inverted tulip on the marble foot of the muezzin mahfil.

Another rumor identified by historical researchers is that he had the tulip made upside down.

Istanbul and the Tulip

The tulip is a flower identified with Istanbul. It is possible to come across tulip figures in many historical buildings in Istanbul. It is seen that the tulip figures are quite abundant in the tiles, glass works, calligraphy and illumination ornaments that adorn the mosques. Tulip is a legacy left to Istanbul from the Ottoman Empire, which is known as the “flower civilization” in history…

The period of “contemplation and splendor” of the Ottomans between 1718-1730 is called the Tulip Era. III. It is used to describe Ahmet’s reign. This period, named after Yahya Kemal Beyatlı and entered the history books in 1910; It has been recorded as the period when Istanbul was built, the printing house was established, and cultural developments were experienced. Between these years, tulips were widely grown in Istanbul and the tulip became synonymous with Istanbul.

It is rumored that there were 200 types of tulip bulbs in Istanbul alone during the Tulip Era. Some sources state that there are 2000 varieties of tulips. Some of these tulips; mahbud, berri tulip, lale-i hamra, lale-i dagdar, lale-i dashti.

Tulip gardens in many pavilions and mansions were destroyed during the rebellion.

Istanbul Tulip

One of the most striking tulip species is the Istanbul Tulip. It has daggery pointed leaves and almond-shaped flowers. There are rumors that there are 1588 varieties of the Istanbul Tulip.

The tulip festival has been held in Istanbul since 2006 in order to increase the production, promotion and dissemination of the Istanbul Tulip. Within the scope of the festival organized by the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality, various events are organized between 1-30 April every year. The 12th Tulip Festival was held in 2017. During the festival, various events are held in Emirgan Grove, Sultanahmet Square and Kadıköy Göztepe 60th Year Park. Tennis and football tournaments are held, painting exhibitions are opened. Every year, the world’s largest tulip carpet is created in the square next to the Blue Mosque. As part of the festival, thousands of tulip bulbs are distributed to the people of Istanbul. In the last ten years, the number of tulips planted in Istanbul under the leadership of the municipality is over 50 million.

Finally, let’s note; The logo used to promote Turkey in the international arena also has a tulip figure.