Glazed Tiles Stolen from Istanbul Mosques
between 1899-1920 in Ottoman Period
Imperial Foundations, Glazed Tiles, Hagia Sophia, Topkapi, Archaelogical Museum, Imperial Museum, Sokullu, Eyï¿½p, Ibrahim
The art works stolen from Anatolia, the cradle of many civilizations, fill the museum display cases of Europe, America and even some Islamic Emirates, glaze to the eyes of visitors and therefore whet the appetite of collectioners.
The Ottomanian Government had the donated goods found in mosques and tombs counted by the Organization of the Imperial Foundations and recorded in the Register of Foundations. There are at least 4 register books related with them.
From some documents that we obtained from the Archive of Istanbul Archaelogical Museum, it was determined that plenty of Iznik glazed tiles had been stolen in Istanbul in 1900-1920 period and their official registrations had been done on those dates.
In the letter sent from the Ministry of Imperial Foundations under date 16.08.1899 and number 127 to the Imperial Museum, it is stated that as the three pieces of glazed tiles had been stolen during the guard duty of Kayyum Isa Efendi from the mihrab side wall of Kï¿½lï¿½ï¿½ Ali Paï¿½a Mosque found in Istanbul-Tophane and consequently it had been required to collect their value from Isa Efendi, the their valuation based on precedent glazed tiles in the mosque had been demanded.
In the letter sent by the Minister of Imperial Foundations to the Imperial Museum under date 21.08.1899 and number 131, the valuation of a glazed stone found within Ihsaniye-i Sagir Mosque in the Quarter of ï¿½skï¿½dar Ihsaniye, having the volume of about a writing paper, Allah's name being written on the center of it and small cypreas tree being depicted on both sides and its characteristics being mentioned in this way, had been demanded.
Briefly in the reply letter sent by the Imperial Museum to the Ministry of Imperial Foundations dated 17.02.1900, valuation of eight pieces of glazed tiles stolen from Ibrahim ï¿½avuï¿½ Mosque of Topkapi Arakiyeci, had been demanded as to be collected from the muezzin.
In a letter sent to the Imperial Museum dated 05.09.1920 signed by the undersecretary on behalf of the Imperial Foundations, it is notified that 72 pieces of glazed tiles had been stolen, 42 of them having dimensions 33x31 and 30 of them having dimensions 28x27 being stolen from Sokullu Mehmet Paï¿½a Tomb in Eyï¿½p district .
As it can be observed above, I want to draw your attention that dates of mentioned thefts are close to each other, correspond to the collapse period of Ottoman Empire, they were the result of an order, a demand as the stolen art works are looking at us from the display cases of European museums, we did not have experts on those dates to know their values, we could not protect them, we could not allocate necessary funds for such purpose, we began to take necessary measures only after the millenium, a department for smuggling crimes was established under my Chairmanship of Culture and Registration Department of General Directorate of Foundations.