IN the lead-up to Anzac Day, carpet from the Ottoman Empire depicting Gallipoli’s principal battle sites has been acquired by the Australian War Memorial.
The carpet was woven for Ottoman Minister of War Ismail Enver Pasha, one of the leaders of the “Young Turk” revolution that overthrew the Ottoman Sultan Abdülhamit II in 1909 to commemorate the empire’s naval victory at Çanakkale 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 April 25.
Woven entirely of silk, the carpet depicts Gallipoli’s principal battle sites in an outstanding example of late Ottoman textile art. 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.
Lettering in the carpet’s top left reads “5 March 1334”, an Islamic Rumi calendar date equivalent to March 18, 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”.
Memorial director Brendan Nelson said he believed it would 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,” he said.