192. Today in 1920s Turkey: 2 July 1927 (Gazi Mustafa Kemal Arrives in Istanbul)

Illustration by Ratip Tahir (Burak), Karagöz, 2 July 1927, no. 2013, page 1. Hakkı Tarık Us Collection, Beyazıt Library, Istanbul.



Karagöz: Büyük Gazi, uğurlu ayakların memleketin her tarafında dolaştı. İstanbul hasretini çekti. Bari çok kal da sevincimiz tükenmesin!


Karagöz: Great Gazi, your auspicious feet have walked every corner of the country. İstanbul has longed for you. At least stay long, so that our joy doesn’t run out!


The cover page to today’s issue of Karagöz features an illustration depicting President Mustafa Kemal (Atatürk) alongside the fictional characters, Karagöz and Hacivat, who were the mascots and namesake of the magazine. This scene represents the city of Istanbul welcoming “the Great Gazi” to its shores for the first time since he left in 1919. The scenery highly site-specific as it includes the gates to the Dolmabahçe Palace in the background. The palace gates mark both his arrival port, a private dock at the palace and his residence for the duration of his stay.

This visit to the formal Ottoman capital by the new Republic’s president was long overdue. Although Mustafa Kemal Pasha had been presiding over the new Turkish government since 1923, it was indeed, not until 1 July 1927 that he returned to Istanbul, Turkey’s most cosmopolitan and populous city. This return was foreshadowed in the Istanbul-based press, which publicized his visit and created anticipation.

Cover art, Karagöz nos. 2012 and 2013 (29 June and 2 July 1927). Hakkı Tarık Us Collection, Beyazıt Library, Istanbul.

1920s Turkey post #191 (Istanbul Welcomes Mustafa Kemal Pasha), focused on the issue of Karagöz published just a few days prior to this one. This issue of the bi-weekly journal’s cover page is also dedicated to the subject of the President’s upcoming visit. The scene takes place at the same location, but the perspective has been changed to look out to the sea, the direction from which he was expected to arrive. The locations of both cover pages, issues 2012 and 2013 are the Dolmabahçe Palace and in this way, firmly situate the President in this city. However, the greatest difference between the two covers is the absence of the “awaited” leader in the first, followed by his conspicuous presence on the cover of the next issue. To heighten this effect, coloration was used in the latter issue in which the Gazi has arrived, as if his presence has breathed life into Istanbul. Such sentiments are suggested in the caption, which asks the famous figure to stay as long as possible and in this way, bring joy to the city. Regardless of politics or poetics, Karagöz did sometimes run issues with colored cover art — a luxury reserved for special occasions, and this one certainly qualified. Both back-to-back issues of Karagöz also include poems and columns about this premier national leader. Karagöz was a nationalist “people’s gazette” (halk gazetesi) and often included enthusiastically supportive content about the national hero, especially from the second half of the decade onward.



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Yasemin Gencer

Yasemin Gencer

I am an independent scholar of Islamic art and civilization specializing in the history of Ottoman and modern Turkish art and print culture.