Osman Hasan and the Tombstone Photographs of the Dönmes

Osman Hasan and the Tombstone Photographs of the Dönmes

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"This is really a remarkable work, and will surely interest and delight many people who would otherwise never have known about the existence of the Donmeh. In a way, this volume has give a new life to one of the most remarkable and enigmatic groups ever to emerge in Ottoman Thessaloniki. What a lovely book..."

Mark Mazover, Ira D. Wallach Professor of History, Columbia University, Author of Salonica, City of Ghosts: Christians, Muslims and Jews 1430-1950.

Almost a century ago, massive political and demographic changes in the Balkans swept the members of the crypto-Jewish sects known collectively as the Dönme from their homeland in Salonica to Istanbul and other parts of Anatolia. While appearing to be Muslim, in their private life the Dönme held a set of syncretic beliefs based on Sufi Islam, Jewish mystical texts such as the Kabbalah, and their own, unique traditions. In their last gasp of group cultural autonomy, the Dönme buried their dead in often very unique graves in different cemetaries throughout Istanbul. Most Dönme tombs differed from traditional Muslim practice by featuring the portraits of the deceased. Osman Hasan was a Dönme artist who created most of the tombstoneportraits found in in these cemeteries. With a superior skill of portraiture and a mixed media technique that combined photographs with painting, he captured evocative portraits from the members of his community.


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