Door leaves of mosque returned to Turkey
The leaves of the minbar door in the Aksaray Ulu Mosque, which had been missing for 15 years, were brought to Turkey.The Turkish Culture and Tourism Ministry has overseen the return of the Aksaray Ulu Mosque door leaves, which have been sought by Interpol since 1998.
According to a written statement made by the ministry, the leaves of the minbar door in the Aksaray Ulu Mosque, which had been missing for 15 years, were brought to Turkey with a secret operation as a result of the insistence of the minister Ömer Çelik, using the support of diplomatic relations and legal rights.
The ministry did not reveal the name of the country from which the door leaves had been returned, in order to avoid damaging efforts for the return of other works from the same country.
After the return process, experts carried out examinations to determine the originality of the door leaves. It was reported after the examination that the leaves were definitely those belonging to the Aksaray Ulu Mosque minbar door, and the historic items were taken under the protection of the Ankara Ethnography Museum last month.
The leaves of the minbar door were removed in 1998 and had been searched for by Interpol ever since. Experts commented on why the door leaves had not been found for many years, saying that smugglers caused the public opinion to forget about the artworks.
Çelik was quoted in the statement saying that works would continue with determination. He said that Turkey had been home to many civilizations throughout the history and had a rooted inheritance.
“The foundation of many civilizations had been laid on the land of Anatolia since the ancient ages. This is why we have a rich history in all corners of Anatolia. We encounter this richness during archaeological excavations or in centuries-old buildings. Some of our artworks have been on display and add value to our country. We can see them in a remote village or in the best known places like the Topkapı Palace. The minbar door leaves of the Ulu Mosque, one of the oldest mosques in Aksaray, are one of the unique items inherited by us from our ancestors,” Çelik said.
Çelik said that they were deeply affected by smuggling events in sacred places like mosques, adding, “Research for the leaves had continued for 15 years in Turkey and abroad. On the door leaves, which are made of ebony and are a great example of Seljuk period woodworking, it is written al-fatehah and ihlas surah as well as the 256th verse of the Baccarat surah and Ayetel Kürsi. Aksaray Ulu Mosque has been under restoration recently and the return of the leaves is a big source of happiness for us.
Ulu Mosque, which is located on a hill in the central Anatolian province of Aksaray, was built by the architect Mehmet Firuz Bey on the order of Karamanoğlu Mehmet Bey, between 1408 and 1409. The most important feature of the mosque is its minbar, a great artwork of the Seljuk woodworking. It is thought that the minbar was taken from another mosque, which does not exist today.