Islamic Lifestyle

Stolen İznik tiles of Turkish mosque found in Netherlands

Published 12 Jun,2021 via Hürriyet Daily News - Two of the 223 500-year-old İznik tiles and a tile panel, stolen from the Ulu Mosque in the southern province of Adana during its restoration 19 years ago, have been found in the Netherlands.

The three tiles, offered for sale by the Oriental Art Auctions Auction House, and another one, determined to have been stolen from the Central Anatolian province of Konya, were brought to Ankara as a result of negotiations conducted by Turkey.

“Two of 223 pieces of 500-year-old İznik tiles and a tile panel stolen from the Adana Ulu Mosque during its restoration 19 years were found in the Netherlands,” Ömer Çelik, spokesman for the Justice and Development Party (AKP), said on Twitter.

Çelik said that stealing art and cultural assets is “a great crime” and “immorality.”

Turkish institutions are closely following the assets stolen from the country, he said, adding that they ensure the return of the assets to Turkey.

The 16th century tiles, which were put up for sale at the Islamic Art Auction on June 4, 2020, attracted the attention of experts of the Culture and Tourism Ministry General Directorate of Cultural Heritage and Museums. They found out that the tiles in the auction catalog were stolen from Turkey.

In an auction, titled “Islamic and Asian Art,” which was held at the same auction house on Oct. 20, 2020, the tile panel offered for sale was also examined by the experts.

The detailed investigation revealed that the tile panel had a star form, which can be seen in the structures dating back to the Anatolian Seljuk period from the end of the 11th century to the beginning of the 13th century, and similar examples of this tile were found in archaeological excavations in Konya.

The Interior Ministry’s Department of Anti-Smuggling and Organized Crime and the Foreign Ministry took an initiative for the return of the tiles, published in the “Stolen Artworks Database” by Interpol.

Turkish officials got in touch with the auction house and evidence was presented that the works were illegally smuggled from Turkey. After months of negotiations, the evidence presented to the auction house proved that the works were of Anatolian origin.

Then the tiles were voluntarily delivered to the embassy in The Hague by the auction house. After the procedures, the tiles were brought to Ankara by diplomatic cargo and delivered to the Ethnography Museum.

It has been reported that some analyses will be carried out in order to determine the period of the tiles with scientific data.

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