Questions by Mr. Hansotto Drotloff & answers by me. Original version is in German:
You were recently successful in your submission of a thesis about the Anatolian carpets of St. Margaret’s Church in Mediasch. Can you please tell our readers the title of your thesis, as well as the name of the university where it was submitted and the professor who was your advisor?
The title of my thesis is “Anatolian Carpets in St. Margaret’s Church in Mediasch, Transylvania”. I successfully defended my thesis on 19th June 2013 at Hacettepe University, Ankara. My advisor was Assistant Professor Suat Alp, who is an expert on Islamic metalwork.
The subject of Anatolian carpets in Transylvanian Protestant churches is a very special matter. Although they are of high historic and artistic value, little is known about them, except maybe among a small group of experts. How did you come up with this research topic for your thesis?
To be honest, during the first period of my master’s studies, I wasn’t actually aware of Transylvania. During our studies, my advisor Asst. Prof. Suat Alp showed Mr. Ionescu’s book to me, and I suddenly then decided to take as my thesis subject the rich tradition of adorning Transylvanian Protestant churches in Romania with Anatolian carpets.
At first it was a little hard because this subject was not very well known in Turkey. Of course, the big exhibition in 2007 at the Sabancı Museum, Istanbul, was extremely important, but I believe this subject has been forgotten since the exhibition. However, I researched the subject in as much depth as I could. Thankfully, with the full support of Mr. Ionescu and Mr. Drotloff, I successfully completed my thesis, and I’m still trying to discover new carpets and obtain undiscovered information about this unique tradition.
During the preparation of your thesis, you went to Transylvania and to Mediasch. What were your impressions over there?
Transylvania seemed like a real fairytale to me: magnificent mountains, majestic forests with every shade of green, carefully preserved German-style towns and the peaceful life of Romanians, Saxons and Hungarians. I believe Transylvanian towns set a perfect example for the preservation of historical towns in general.
I’ve been to Braşov, Sibiu, Sighişoara, Biertan and Mediasch, and I felt at home everywhere. Transylvanian Saxons seemed very proud of their identity and their ancestral heritage. They were also very friendly and helpful.
For me, Mediasch was the real treasure. I chose St. Margaret’s Church in Mediasch as my thesis subject, but it’s an unknown place in Turkey, so it was really hard for me at first. However, I then met with Mr. Hansotto Drotloff and he sent me a book about Mediasch. I’d like to thank Mr. Drotloff on behalf of Heimatgemeinschaft Mediasch e.V. for the magnificent book, Mediasch: Ein historischer Streifzug durch die siebenbürgisch-sächsische Stadt an der Kokel.
Sadly, I have so far spent only a few hours in the city. But in near future, I’m planning to re-discover this city, this hidden gem.
We would appreciate a few words about you and your scientific background.
I have a B.A. degree in Near Eastern Archaeology and my subject was “The Painted Pottery of the Near East in the Second Millennium B.C,” However, I soon realized that archaeology wasn’t my dream subject.
Four years later, I decided to dedicate myself to art history. I completed my master’s thesis in June 2013 and now I’m writing articles and giving lectures about “The Unusual Tradition of Adorning Transylvanian Saxon Protestant Churches with Anatolian Carpets”. I’m planning on soon commencing my Ph.D. studies, which will again be on Anatolian carpets
We also have a very talented team at the General Directorate for Cultural Heritage and Museums, Turkey, which works on the subject of “Digital Cultural Heritage”. We create IT projects for the digital preservation and protection of cultural heritage.
Turkey and Transylvania have a long, shared history of conflict from centuries ago. How do you feel about the possibility of people living in Turkey nowadays, along with those living in present-day Romania and other countries – as the Transylvanian Saxons do –working together to elucidate their common history? What lessons do you think that one can take from your experience of cooperating with so many people from so many different countries?
I believe that, during those years of conflict, the Saxons were impressed by the Turks and the Turks by the Saxons. I think both Turks and Saxons should spend more time trying to learn about and understand each other. If we try to see our similarities instead of our differences, everything will be easier. It’s also easy to build bridges with art because art extends beyond borders. Art unites us.
One of the most important reasons for the success of my thesis was international cooperation. Turks, Romanians, English, Transylvanian Saxons, Germans, Hungarians – everyone shared their valuable information generously, because they knew that, as Bhartrihari said, “Knowledge grows when shared”. This can also help one to obtain a broader perspective. By gaining so many different perspectives, I’ve learned of many differences and similarities between Turks and Saxons, Hungarians and Germans, Romanians and Saxons, and these facts have triggered many different research topics in my mind. Consequently, everyone has some kind of gift and I believe it’s important to work with a team to achieve better results.
Finally, do you have a personal message to the readers of Mediascher Infoblatt / Mediascher Zeitung, and members of the Association of Saxons originating from Mediasch?
When considering Turks and Saxons, the first thing you can say is “we had hard times in the past”, but now we have a new era of tolerance, understanding and cooperation.
Just as I intend to research further into this “carpets” subject, I am also planning to promote Transylvanian Saxon heritage to Turkey in every possible academic and popular way. So, I’m open to all kinds of proposals regarding our common heritage; please don’t hesitate to contact me!