Turkish Tulips


While tulips are most often associated with the Netherlands, they are actually native to Central Asia, and were first cultivated under the Ottomans in Turkey.  They were introduced to Holland when several bulbs were given as a gift from Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent to Ogier de Busbecq, a Flemish Ambassador to the Ottoman Empire.  They were then cultivated throughout the Low Countries by Carolus Clusius, a famous botanist, which set off Tulip Mania throughout the 1630s.  Tulip, “lale,” in Turkish, got its English name from the Turkish word for “turban,” “tulbend,” as they were perceived to resemble the traditional Ottoman turban.  The tulip was a very popular symbol in the Ottoman Empire, representing abundance, indulgence, and paradise on Earth.  It was often featured in Iznik pottery, and tiles, which were used to decorate the sultan’s palace and many imperial mosques.  Celebration of the tulip continues today in modern Turkey, where festivals coincide with the flower’s blooming season, and artisans continue to reproduce Iznik designs.



    Iznik Plate