I am sitting in a Karaoke bar in Kuala Lumper
On my way here I was approached by two inappropriately clad young ladies who seemed very friendly.
I politely declined their offers of company and told them that despite the heat here they’d catch their death when it rains unless they out on more clothing.
A ten hour flight on Turkish airlines to get here – and Ryanair it ain’t
Those 3 bottles of very agreeable Turkish red went down very well.
Bye bye Turkey
Almost a month of contrasts. Hills. Lakes, forests , tiny villages. Sleeping on floors, mosques and camping by a river
Then there’s Istanbul
I spent the last day doing the Blue Mosque. And Topkapi Palace.
I have a friend who is big in tiles
He should get himself to Istanbul because the 15th and 16th century examples of Ottoman tiling are simply breathtaking
Certainly the French seemed to appreciate those tiles perhaps more than most
Let me explain
Down a little noticed side road next to the Hagia Sofya mosque lay some mausoleums with the signposts bearing those two words which always bring joy to me
They are the tombs of a dizzying number of sulltans and their families all decorated with those beautiful tiles.
As I was taking off my shoes I saw a notice in English explaining that the 60 panels of tiles at the entrance were not in fact the 16th century originals
In the 1880s there was a restoration project run – and I still don’t know why – by a perfidious Frenchman by the name of Albert Dorigny
For some reason not explained he told the Turks it was essential to send this stunning Iznik masterpiece back to, er, France for proper restoration.
“But effendi Albert, your countrymen will look after them will they not?”
“Mai oui mon ami, c’est no problem”
So this work if art is duly shipped to France and when it returns all is not well.
As the notice puts it ;”in Sevres counterfeits were made and placed where originals one laid”
What were the French thinking? That no-one would notice?
The notice board gets even more splenetic on the subject. You can almost hear the writer gnashing his teeth..
“This is a complete abuse of trust and an example of art theft”
And in minute detail it goes on to pinpoint the current location of the stolen tiles
“The original tiles are currently being displayed at the Louvre Museum in Paris, France under the section called Islam Art with the inventory number 3919/231-2.
It says that the Turkish authorities have made many requests to the French culture ministry for the return of the tiles but adds rather forlornly
“Unfortunately we have not been able to get a positive request.. ”
I felt rather sorry for them. Until I saw the obelisk of Theodesius in the Hippodrome. And that was nicked from Egypt by the Byzatines.
What goes around comes around