Tulip Mania, Tulips are from Turkey not the Netherlands + Maya’s Only Florist + Fast Flower Facts

21 April 2012 at 08:13 12 comments

By Kimberly Strathearn, KF 16/17, Turkey

April 7 -29, 2012 is this year’s date for the 7th International Istanbul Tulip Festival which is organized by the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality.  Being a national symbol of Turkey, tulips have had a major role in Turkish arts and culture for centuries. Not to mention it is the current official tourism symbol.

The Tulip Festival is held each April and the city parks, squares, and gardens are blooming with millions of tulips of every color. This year over 11.5 million tulips of 104 different varieties have been planted throughout Istanbul.  Various parks and squares will host live concerts, painting and Ebru (marble-painting) demonstrations, Tulip Photography Exhibitions and Tulip Sculpture Exhibitions.

Tulips in my neighborhood park (Yildiz Park), my little piece of heaven in Istanbul.  Istanbul is a city that spans two continents and is a city of 8-12 million depending on which suburbs you count!

Tulips are often associated with the Netherlands, but commercial cultivation of the flower began during the Ottoman Empire. The tulip, or lale as it is called in Turkey and Iran (a Persian word), is a flower indigenous to a vast area encompassing arid parts of Africa, Asia, and Europe.

Although it is unknown who first brought the tulip to Northwestern Europe, the most widely accepted story is that it was Oghier Ghislain de Busberg, an ambassador for Ferdiand I of Germany to Suleyman the Magnificent of the Ottoman Empire.

Tulip mania or tulipomania  was a period in the Dutch Golden Ages (roughly spanning the 17th century, in which Dutch trade, science, military and art were among the most acclaimed in the world) when contract prices for bulbs of the recently introduced tulip reached extraordinarily high levels and then suddenly collapsed.  Tulips would become so expensive that they were treated as a form of currency.  This speculative frenzy starting in 1634 was triggered by enthusiasm for this new type of flower and was considered a status symbol.  At the peak of tulip mania, in February 1637, some single tulip bulbs sold for more than 10 times the annual income of a skilled craftsman. It is generally considered the first recorded speculative bubble (or economic bubble). The term “tulip mania” is now often used metaphorically to refer to any large economic bubble (when asset prices deviate from intrinsic values).

The tulip, Semper Augustus, is famous for being the most expensive tulip sold during the tulipomania in the Netherlands in the 17th century.

 The Ottomans had their own tulip craze, named the Tulip Era from 1718-1730, among the Ottoman court elite and high society when they developed an intense fondness for tulips.

The Tulip period saw a flowering of arts, culture and architecture. Generally the style of architecture and decoration became more elaborate, being influenced by the Baroque period in movement. The tulip was also praised in poetry and motifs used in paintings.

To this day in modern Turkey, the tulip is still considered the embodiment of perfection and beauty.  Lale (Tulip) is also a favorite female name in Turkey. It still inspires Turkish musicians and artists and is appreciated by Turks for its beauty.

Traditional Ebru Marbling (painting)

The tulip motif can be seen on various items concerning Turkey from textiles, and jewelry to Iznik tiles. Perhaps the best modern examples are the tulip motifs on the fuselage of the Turkish Airlines’ fleet and as the official logo of the Turkey Tourism Ministry.

Turks enjoy flowers and besides sending them for special occasions such as birthdays and Mother’s Day, they are brought as hostess gifts when invited to someone’s home for dinner, elaborate arrangements are made for business openings with banners expressing the sender’s wishes for the recipient”s success in their new business,  gypsies stroll around outdoor restaurants and try to encourage men to buy their female dinner companions a red rose (or two or three…), sent to weddings and funerals if unable to attend, housewives in the spring will buy whatever is blooming during their weekly local market shopping trips to make their homes smell nice, and people send their friends a bouquet when they start a new job.

Bilge and her flower shopWith all this flower appreciation, it shouldn’t be a surprise that we have a Maya Entrepreneur, Bilgi, who is a florist and working hard to expand her business.

Fast Flower Facts:

-80% of Turkey’s cut flower exports are carnations

This coin, dating from 133 BC, was found in the ancient Greek town of Synnada, now the modern Turkish town of Şuhut in the province of Afyon-Turkish farmers grow poppies under license to produce opium for the medicinal market (essential analgesics such as codeine and morphine) and have cultivated poppies since ancient times.  The Turkish model of opium licensing was proposed as a model to solve Afghanistan’s illegal opium economy.  Poppy seeds are used in a variety of breads, pastries and rolls as well as salads, soups and desserts and its long culinary history includes its use in dishes that are prepared for special ceremonies such as engagements and weddings.

-The city of Isparta is famous for its rose oil, a main ingredient in women’s perfume, and the region produces 60% of the world’s roses—a whopping 7,000 tons a year. Rose water or syrup is a by-product of rose oil production and is used in food, other cosmetics and for religious purposes.

-Orchid roots (ground into a flour) is the main ingredient of a hot winter beverage called salep, best with cinnamon on top!

-Stuffed Zucchini Flowers are a favorite and specialty of the Aegean region

-The cut flower industry in Turkey is mainly based on small family farms, 25,000 people are directly employed and more than 300,000 are indirectly employed in the industry (includes domestic market)

-For Valentine’s Day 2011, the Antalya region exported 40 million cut flowers to about 25 countries for approximately $7 million in revenues

Hey It’s spring, so don’t forget to take a stroll and stop to smell the flowers!

Visit these blogs for more on Maya and Turkey:

Home to a New Adventure: Hoş Geldiniz Maya!

If It Is Thursday, It Must Be Sakarya + What is Bohça?

If it is Tuesday it must be Izmit +more of my favorite borrowers + buyurun agabey

Perks + Ataturk + My Hero

Junk Food +1,300 chefs + Edirne-Style Liver + Maya Food Entrepreneurs

If It is Wednesday, It Must Be Eskişehir + Eskişehir Entrepreneurs

Barrier + Solution = Groups Loans for Maya + Challenges Remain  

Kimberly Strathearn is a KF 16/17 serving in Istanbul with Maya. Kiva’s newest Field Partner in Istanbul, Turkey. To learn more about Maya and their clients, please visit their Partner Page, join our newly created Friends of Maya Lending Team, or make a loan to one of their enterprising clients. Kimberly is a fan of giving Kiva Cards for just about every gift giving occasion. What could be better that giving the gift of helping someone?

Entry filed under: blogsherpa, KF17 (Kiva Fellows 17th Class). Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , .

Hello Spring: It’s Time to Celebrate Update from the Field: Colorful Markets, Microfinance for Students + Springtime Flowers and Celebrations


  • 1. Antoine S. Terjanian  |  15 June 2012 at 19:53

    Dear Kim

    I kept going everyday to your blog in the hope that your internal debate over whether to approve my comment turned in my favour.

    In any case, thank you for taking the time to write me such a thoughtful explanation about your reasoning. You are obviously well versed in the issues.

    What I don’t understand though is why is it that you want to join the others by throwing a cloak of words over the cadavers? Is it not enough that we were crucified? And now you also want to gag me by not publishing my comment, which was triggered by the provocative title you unintentionally chose for your post?

    Yes, the BBC article I referred to is from 2005, and it referred to the bureaucracy under the same AKP government. But can you tell me if these same bureaucrats have withdrawn their request to change these scientific names?

    Yes, things have changed in Turkey, at least some of them, I know and I appreciate every positive step. And yes, I also want peace and economic development coupled with social progress, but it has to be a just peace. I am not seeking revenge. I am seeking justice.

    According to Genocide scholars, the final stage of genocide is: deny-forget-rewrite (like you seem to advise). Kim: It is our duty to prevent genocide at all its stages. It is our duty to prevent genocide when others before us failed to prevent its early stages. Genocide is done to humanity, not to one person or group. Those who are in the know are incapable of remaining silent, because that burden of the conscience of humanity is in their consciousness. I am sorry, but you are now in the know of the whispers of our grandmothers. I am sorry my grandmother survived and her whisper has reached you. She is now your grandmother. You are now her mouth, your finger her finger. I am sorry, but I also could not make her wailing silence go away.

    And, “Yes, I also would love another cup of tea”! Perhaps we can have it in Yeghegnadzor, and all your righteous, forward-looking Turkish friends are also invited.
    With my best and most sincere regards.
    Antoine S. Terjanian
    Yeghegnadzor, Armenia

  • […] Tulip Mania, Tulips are from Turkey not the Netherlands + Mays”s only florist + fast flower fa… […]

  • […] Tulip Mania, Tulips are from Turkey not the Netherlands + Mays”s only florist + fast flower fa… […]

  • 4. Alisa Strathearn  |  6 June 2012 at 07:39

    So interesting! Thanks for sharing!

  • […] Tulipan Semper Augustus. De Kiva Stories from the field. Un bulbo de este tulipán fue cambiado en el siglo XVII por unos 50000 metros cuadrados de tierra, […]

  • 6. Judy Ayyildiz:A Life Story « Literary Chronicles  |  25 April 2012 at 00:39

    […] Tulip Mania, Tulips are from Turkey not the Netherlands + Maya’s Only Florist + Fast Flower Fa… (fellowsblog.kiva.org) […]

    • 7. act4impact  |  28 April 2012 at 01:14

      Hi Judy,
      Thanks for linking to my blog post. I’ve put your book on my shopping list for my visit to the States this summer and look forward to reading it. A few years ago we lost another amazing lady, Meliha Toros, she was the first civil female judge appointed by Ataturk. Her daughter and granddaughter are the process of making a documentary piece on her life.

  • […] Tulip Mania, Tulips are from Turkey not the Netherlands + Maya’s Only Florist + Fast Flower Facts By Kimberly Strathearn | KF 16/17 | Turkey Kim explains tulips commercial origin in Turkey and the current role flowers play in Turkish culture. From carnation exports to rose perfume, flowers are both a beautiful addition to daily life and a critical part of the country’s economy. […]

  • 9. Janae's Fallgirl Shepherd  |  22 April 2012 at 21:00

    Good article – I found it pretty interesting, so I not only “liked” but linked this one too!
    I only know a little about the micro – loans program, it does seem like a good thing though.

    • 10. act4impact  |  28 April 2012 at 01:21

      Hi Janae, Thanks for the link and stopping by. I enjoyed your photos. I am 100% sure you could have given the blooming tulips in Istanbul better justice!

    • 11. Janae's Fallgirl Shepherd  |  28 April 2012 at 16:22

      There were tulip photos, now only daffodils something must have happened… I will reload them at once, or asap! I appreciate the your comments and informative post on the Tulips(“-“)

  • 12. Tulips in full color « *His Space too*  |  22 April 2012 at 20:37

    […] Tulip Mania, Tulips are from Turkey not the Netherlands + Maya’s Only Florist + Fast Flower Fa… (fellowsblog.kiva.org) Share this:ShareFacebookLike this:LikeBe the first to like this post. […]

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