ISTANBUL 

An important seventeenth-century painting of a prominent Muslim mystic was sold at auction in Germany to a Dutch-based scholar, the Turkish scholar told Anadolu Agency Wednesday.

The 1651 painting of Haji Bektash Veli, a prominent Alevi religious figure who lived and taught in Anatolia – now part of Turkey – from 1209 to 1271, was sold to Mehmet Tutuncu, head of the Research Centre for the Arabic and Turkish World in Haarlem, the Netherlands.

Tutuncu told Anadolu Agency that the painting – measuring 22 x 17 centimeters (8.7 x 7 inches) – could be the oldest existing painting of the Muslim icon.

“I was very excited because when I read the Ottoman text under the picture, I realized that it is the oldest picture of Haji Bektash Veli,” he explained.

He added that the painting may have come from a large book.

UNESCO declared 2021 the year of Haji Bektash Veli, another factor which makes the painting very important, Tutuncu said.

“Haji Bektash Veli is a very important name historically. He is also the guide for the Janissaries, the most important division of the Ottoman army. He is an important element of Alevi and Bektash culture,” Tutuncu said.

Up to now all the paintings known of Haji Bektash Veli came from the 19th or 20th centuries, so this 17th century painting broke ground, he explained.

*Writing by Dilara Hamit

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