“Tortoise Trainer” by Osman Hamdi Bei

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I welcome all of you who love this painting.  I saw it and was immediately drawn to it. Of course, with my last name (Turtle) and my purpose in life to teach people, sometimes really stubborn ones, this painting is a natural for me.  This is a digital photograph of the painting (copy?/original?) that I saw when I entered the hotel in Istanbul where Sandra and I were staying.  I couldn't take my eyes off it, and on my last day I took this picture.  The theme (the considerate pausing of the "trainer" looking at his difficult students), the subject (turtles), and the wonderful colors that reminded me so much of my wonderful visit to Istanbul and with the great people of Turkey. It was all wonderful to me. 

The "Turtle Trainer" is one of Osman Hamdi Bey's most original and creative works. It subtly portrays this basic social message:  that change is difficult, requiring much patience, in fact the patience of a sufi dervish. 

The five turtles in this portrait symbolize a stubborn, resistant and slow changing society.   Some even believe that they represent the five most difficult associates of Osman Hamdi, giving him heartburn.  The turtle trainer, dressed in a red dervish robe and a turban, holding a ney (sufi flute) is Osman Hamdi, representing a patient intellectual that is coaching change.   A change he hopes to teach primarily by blowing his ney and occasionally by using it to prod or reprimand the animals.  Unfortunately, the turtles have no ears to hear the ney and with a thick protective shell they are also not bothered by his prodding.   His efforts are futile.   Osman Hamdi Bey's calls for westernization are met by deaf ears and much resistance by the establishment and the conservative segments.  By Emin Pamucak

For the rest of this website, my purpose is to help people get along with each other.  I have put, and will continue to put, the wisdom, the tricks, the cool ideas, and the theory about great relationships between intimate partners.  However, I am fully aware that all these thoughts are just as important in the many other relationship: parent/child, brother/sister, friend/friend, boss/employee, nation/nation, politician/citizen, etc.  Read, learn, practice, enjoy and make yourself into a person who is more fun to be around.   Al Turtle 2005

For a larger copy, click here


“Tortoise Trainer” by Osman Hamdi Bei — 5 Comments

  1. I bought a large postcard sized copy of this intriguing picture after seeing the original in the Pera Museum in Istanbul. I had actually gone to see an exhibition of Ferdinando Botero's work and was surprised at seeing this famous painting, completed 3 years before Hamdi Osman Bey's death, on the first floor. Well worth a visit next time you're in Istanbul!

  2. I love that picture too… so much !! I saw it in the archeological museum in istambul and I was facinated… I too could not take my eyes off it. I looked for a copy in the museum's bookshop and in several shops in Istambul but never got either picture, postcard or book in wich it was reproducted.
    I would wright of the experience I had wit a group of ney students in a very small and facinating place near a Mosque in a old part of Istambul… I'll do if anybody ist reading thi comment, because I have some difficulties in writing Englisch, I'll do only if anybody has read this commen and would wright me back…

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