LOADING...

























Two Turkish women in Paris in 1922
2002 / AUGUST
Exactly 80 years ago Nuriye Hanım and Müfide Ferit Hanım became the first Turkish women to act as ambassadors for Turkish culture abroad, giving lectures in Paris in 1922. Both women were acclaimed by Paris society. Nuriye Hanım, who had married a Polish count, gave a lecture at a gathering entitled Poetry Hour, held by Madame Aurel, whose salons were then famous in literary circles. The full text of this long lecture was published in the Echos de l'Islam magazine. In the introduction Nuriye Hanım said, 'The Austrian Von Hammer and Englishman Gibbs have endeavoured to introduce their countrymen to the beauties of Eastern literature, but not a single line has been written to acquaint the French with Turkish literature. Since you have heard of the adventures of Cem Sultan and A Thousand and One Nights, you have an initial idea of the subject on which I will speak.
Page 1/7

























Two Turkish women in Paris in 1922
2002 / AUGUST

I wish to introduce you to the Turkish world, and the Arab and Persian worlds, always remembering that they are characterised by fundamental philosophical and mystic differences of outlook. I will concentrate on Turkish literature, because this is closest to the spirit of the West.' After summarising the movement of the Turkish people from Central Asia to the Mediterranean, Nuriye Hanım spoke of Mevlânâ and the messages of this mystic philosopher. She described the poetry of the 18th century poet Nedim, cultural relations between Turkey and the West from the time of Sultan Mehmed the Conqueror to that of the 18th century Sultan Ahmed III and his grand vezir Damat İbrahim Paşa of Nevşehir, and the introduction of the printing press to Turkey. She spoke of the role of the 19th century poet Şinasi in the westernisation of Turkish literature at this time, and of the close stylistic affinity between Turkish and French poetry. She concluded, 'You will love the Turkish world of poetry, its emotions which are by no means strange to you, and its voices.'

Page 2/7

























Two Turkish women in Paris in 1922
2002 / AUGUST
Countess Nuriye was a descendant of Pierre Antoine de Castagnery, Marquis of Chateauneuf, who served as ambassador to Turkey for ten years in 1689-1699, a period during which three sultans reigned (Süleyman II, Ahmed II and Mustafa II). Her grandfather Reşat Bey became a Muslim and settled in Turkey, where he worked for the first railway company. Her father Nuri Bey was a diplomat whose industry and intelligence won him the trust of Sultan Abdülhamid (1876-1909). He led a westernised lifestyle, and his children were taught by foreign governesses.
In the early 1900s, when the French writer Pierre Loti wrote a novel reflecting the drama of Turkish women kept in seclusion from society, his heroines were Nuri Bey's two daughters Nuriye and Zinnur and their French governesses.
Page 3/7

























Two Turkish women in Paris in 1922
2002 / AUGUST

In this novel, entitled Desenchantées, Nuriye and Zinnur are the characters Melek and Zeynep respectively. When it was published in Paris the novel exploded like a bomb in Istanbul, and the two sisters were ostracised by Istanbul society. The scandal grew to such proportions that finally Nuriye and Zinnur fled to Paris in disguise in 1905. Their father Nuri Bey, consumed by anxiety that the sultan might hear of the affair, suffered such serious depression that it led to his premature death. Zinnur Hanım became homesick and returned to Turkey two years later, but Nuriye Hanım married Count Rohozinski of Poland. The couple settled in Paris, where Countess Nuriye became one of the eminent figures of Paris society and made close friends with the sculptor Rodin and painter Rousseau. Her four children, one a famous doctor and another a famous musician, also became well-known in Paris society. She adopted her sister Zinnur's daughter, who was born in Paris. Nuriye Hanım lived in Paris for the rest of her life, dying in an old peoplser home in 1967.

Page 4/7

























Two Turkish women in Paris in 1922
2002 / MARCH
Following the successful lecture by Countess Nuriye, another Turkish woman, Müfide Ferit Hanım, who had been educated abroad and whose childhood had passed among the Young Turks in exile, gave a lecture about Turkey on 16 June 1922. This, too, became the talk of Paris. At the request of the Lyceum Women's League she spoke on the participation of Turkish women in national affairs. At the end of her hour-long lecture her select audience of famous political and literary figures were tearful with emotion. After describing how village women with bleeding feet dragged carts of supplies during the Turkish War of Independence, Müfide Ferit declared, 'What was the object of these sufferings, this blood, this mourning, these deaths, these orphans, these widows and these tears? Was it to seize territory? No! Was it to create colonies? No! It was for one thing only, for the right to live and the future of Turkey.
Page 5/7
 

























Two Turkish women in Paris in 1922
2002 / AUGUST
' And she concluded, 'Our enemies who begrudged even this, imputed abominations to us the moment they saw opinion turning in our favour. As they are still doing today. But the truth can never be concealed. Justice will prevail. Enmities will turn into friendships... Europeans do not want to recognise us... Every day we are subjected to the oppression and enmity of Europe. I call upon the women in my audience. When politics is bankrupted, it may be replaced by the justice and compassion of women.' The lecture was printed in full in the French press, and Müfide Ferit won the hearts of French women. Müfide Ferit was born in 1892, and as a young woman wrote two novels which were widely acclaimed. She studied at Versailles Lycée, and became the first Turkish woman to graduate in political science. She worked as a journalist, writing in support of the activities of the Young Turks in Paris. She married Ahmet Ferit Bey, who served as minister in both the Ottoman and Ankara governments, and for many years as a diploma.
Page 6/7
 


























Two Turkish women in Paris in 1922
2002 / AUGUST

Müfide Ferit therefore served as ambassadress in Paris, London, Warsaw, and Tokyo for a total of 22 years, and also founded the Turkish branch of the International Soroptimist Society. Towards the end of the War of Liberation, she had acted as mediator in the correspondence between Mustafa Kemal Atatürk and the French novelist Pierre Loti. She died in 1971.

* Taha Toros is a historian.

Page 7/7
 
Bir önceki konu başlığı Bir sonraki konu başlığı






























Previous