Exhibition in Diyarbakir Recalls Multicultural Past

image-11.pngDIYARBAKIR, Turkey—A major exhibition displaying Diyarbakir’s former multi-cultural character will open Jan. 14 at the “Sumerpark Amed” Art Gallery in Diyarbakir.

A local walks past posters announcing the exhibition in Diyarbakir.
Created by Osman Koker of Birzamanlar Yayincilik, the exhibition is titled “Cultural Diversity in Old Diyarbakir” and reunites the lost peoples of Diyarbakir with the new inhabitants of the city through more than 200 photos from the early 20th century. The photographs show scenes from daily life as well as the physical architecture of those days.

Data from researchers and travelers show that at the beginning of the 20th century, the population of the city was about 35,000, half of which were non-Muslim. In addition to the largest group of Apostolic Armenians, the communities included Syriacs, Chaldeans, Catholic and Protestant Armenians, Orthodox and Catholic Greeks, and Yezidis. Documents show that the non-Muslim groups had a strong say in the economic life of the city. The 1914 edition of Annuaire Oriental, for example, shows that all 12 jewelry firms, 10 of 11 stonemasons, all 9 copper traders, all 10 firms producing silk fabric, and 29 of the 38 merchants dealing in cotton, gallnut, silk, grains, and wool were Armenian. Catholic and Protestant schools existed alongside Armenian and Syriac ones; newspapers were published in Armenian; and various theatre companies, and Armenian and Syriac bands attested to the colorful life of the city.

Prepared in Turkish, Kurdish, and English, the exhibition will open on Sat., Jan. 14 at 4 p.m., and remain open until Feb. 7.

The Metropolitan Municipality of Diyarbakir, in collaboration with Birzamanlar Yayincilik, Anadolu Kultur, and Global Dialogue, are sponsoring the exhib