Turkish dance is a very important and inseparable part of the rich heritage of Turkish culture. Through thousands of years, hundreds of different civilization with many different colors, sound, rhythm has been composed. Turkey has a very ancient folk dance tradition, which varies from region to region, each dance being colourful, rhythmic, elegant and stylish.  “Belly dance” which is called “göbek dansi” in Turkey is maybe the most famous and popular one of Turkish dances.  There are many different cultures which have influenced the development of this style.  Esoteric religious rites of Greek and Egypt are some of the ultimate origins supposed for belly dance. But its apparent origins are fertility cults of the ancient world. Whichever the real source of it, belly dance is taken in as a unique dance style, In every step, every movement you can see the hints of its originality and its rich heritage and traditional associations with both religious and erotic elements; because of this mystery, maybe, belly dance is loved by many people all around the world. Oriental dance is uniquely designed for the female body, with an emphasis on abdominal muscles, hip moves, and chest moves. It is firm and earthy, traditionally with bare feet connected to the ground.

Other popular Turkish dance is the Karsilama dance form. Trakya dances are performed with the accompany of two drums and two pipes.  Zigos, one of the most famous dances, is usually danced by six couples standing in two rows.  They advanced towards and recede from each other with their backs slightly bent.  They begin slowly and softly, the movement becomes violent step by step, to be followed later by crouching movements.  There are also sideways steps and embracing gestures.

Anatolian halay is the most widespread dance all around Anatolia. Nearly every village in most parts of Central Anatolia, Eastern Anatolia and the South has its own halay with its own special tune.  Dancers usually place themselves in a line or in a semi circle, holding each other’s hands or shoulders.  One dancer acts as their leader.  He regulates the steps and directs the figures and sometimes he breaks away from the line and executes solo dances facing the line.  There are halays danced by men and women together; however there are halays which are performed by just men or women and they change in manner, style, and figures.

Another form of dance called Semah is a quasi-religious social dance of villages belong to nomadic tribes of a sect called Alevite.  They were performed in secret indoor meetings called cem before.  This dancing, in spite of its spirituel awareness and sacred air usually takes a worldly turn.  No doubt these mixed dances have some reference to the suppresion and sublimation of desires.  Dancers never hold hands but they face each other and cross them across their chests.  The women’s arm movements are more restrained than the men’s, for they never raise their arms higher than their shoulders.  They move by pointing the toes with smallfoot movements.  There is a sacred place in the hall called çeragtahı where candles are burnt.  When a dancer passes this place, he must not turn his back on it, he must face it with his hands crossed on his chest and bow his head.  Semahs usually are usually performed in quadrille formation, the dancers facing each other in rows.  The dancers shuffle back and forth, breaking through each other counter formation. Semahs usually consist of at least two parts: ağırlama, a slow movement in which men and women mirror each other’s hand and arm movements, and yeldirme, a quick movement in which whirling is a striking feature.  There are also hand clappings.  Many semahs bear a close resemblance to the folk dances of the same region which is Central and Eastern Asia.


Turkish music used to be mostly associated with belly-dancing, while recently the Mevlevi “whirling” dervishes have gained wide popularity on the World Music circuit. Yet there’s much more to Turkish music than that, as demonstrated by its great influence across the eastern Mediterranean and Balkans, and its growing following amongst the Turkish and Kurdish diaspora in northern Europe.

The Turks were introduced to western classical music through orchestras, which were invited to the Sultan’s Palace to celebrate occasions such as weddings. The great Italian composer, Donizetti, conducted the Palace Orchestra for many years. The first military band was founded in the 19th century. During the Republican era, the Presidential Symphony Orchestra, founded in 1924, and the Orchestra of the Istanbul Municipality Conservatory played a leading role in introducing and popularising classical music in Turkey. Turkish composers drew their inspiration from Turkish folk songs and Turkish classical music.


Talking about fine arts and culture in Turkey, so Turkish Culture is unique in the world in that it has influenced and has been influenced in return by cultures and civilizations from China to Vienna and from Russian steps to North Africa for over a millennia. Turkish culture reflects this unparalleled cultural richness and diversity, and remains mostly shaped by its deep roots in Middle East, Anatolia and Balkans, the cradle of many civilizations for at least twelve thousand years.

Turkish or Ottoman Art depicts pure balance of line, color and rhythm in geometric designs and patterns. Islamic restrictions against portraying the human form and representations of a profane world make this quite different from Western Art. Calligraphy is the most important of the Ottoman arts. Because of the bureaucratic nature of this empire, even such mundane items as deeds, edicts and tax notices are considered to be works of art. Many such examples of this calligraphy and of the beautiful marbled paper, or ebru, on which these documents were written are preserved and displayed at various museums today. Silk-making and elaborate embroidery are also important expressions of Turkish and Ottoman arts. Religious hangings, Koran covers and prayer rugs were often embroidered with silver or gold and lovely delicately-colored threads, the most magnificent designs used for ceremonial purposes.

The oldest surviving illustrations belong to the Uyghur Turks. The eight and nineth century paintings found at Chotcho, there capital in Turfan, are the earliest examples of Turkish book illustrations known. Although numerous wall paintings can stil be seen, ver few book illustrations still exist. The people in these miniatures, especially male figures, have portrait quality, with their names inscribed below. After tese earliest examples, there was almost four centuries of time gap, which no book illustrations survived, until the preiod of the Suljuks in Anatolia. However the figrues seen in Seljuk art still show the tradition of Uighur paintings. The minatures illustrate a fantasy world of demons, evil spirtis and sceens from nomadic life. There are also other Seljuk works in different styles showing evidence of Byzantian influence.

The first examples of Turkish-Ottoman paintings come from the period of Sultan Mehmet II (1451-1481), who was a great patron of the arts as well as a military genius. It was during the reign of Suleyman the Magnificent (1520 – 1566) that Ottoman miniature painting developed its identifiable style. Even though the various influences continue to be felt, the true characteristics of Ottoman painting begins to appear due to the existence of Turkish artist tratined in the palace studios. This was the style of an empire absorbing vast territories on its eastern and western frontiers, and merging the influence of Turkoman, Persian and western art. By the eighteenth century the Ottomans accepted the cultural and political advances of Europe, moving in the direction of a new art form based on European paintings. This brought an end to the Turkish miniature tradition of thousands of years.

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