Anatolian Troubles and Their Solutions

The Owl of Ignorance

"The Owl of Ignorance" (and the sun shining "education" or "knowledge" in the background)

Kalem, September 10, 1908.

Reforms in Turkey: A Play in 33 Acts, Coming Soon

"Reforms in Turkey: A Play in 33 Acts, Coming Soon"

Kalem, September 25, 1908.

In the first cartoon, the owl of ignorance perches on the European side of Istanbul, spreading its wings wide to block out the sun––labeled "knowledge," or "education"––and darken Anatolia. It is no mistake that the sun of "knowledge" has been drawn to shine from the direction of Europe towards Asia: the Ottoman elite were largely educated in Europe, and Europe's legal and governmental systems were commonly-referenced sources of inspiration for Turkish reforms and initiatives.

The second image makes reference to the spectacle of reforms expected following the Young Turk revolution. A proscenium arch straddles the Golden Horn of Istanbul, bearing a notice at the top that reads, "Reforms in Turkey: A Play in 33 Acts, Coming Soon." The Ottoman Turkish at the top of the proscenium and on the sign along the shore adds that the play is "a comedy-drama." Even at this early moment post-revolution, Ottoman elites––as represented by Kalem––could sense the potential farce that they faced in reforming the Empire during the Second Constitutional Era. Furthermore, by straddling the Golden Horn in this way, the proscenium displaces the Topkapi Palace (which should be located on the left), connects European Istanbul to European Istanbul, and faces Asian Istanbul.

Anatolian Troubles and Their Solutions