The cultural and historical jewels of Turkey have a big fan halfway around the world, namely a member of Malaysia’s royal family.
“I am an admirer of Turkish arts and crafts as well as Turkish history and culture,” Malaysian Queen Tunku Azizah Aminah Maimunah Iskandariah told Anadolu Agency in an emailed interview.
“I really appreciate rich Turkish embroidery and the regal designs which are used in the Turkish palaces and historical buildings.”
Tunku Aziziah – the queen consort of Malaysia’s King Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah – also said she is a great fan of Turkish TV series, particularly Kurulus Osman, Dirilis Ertugrul, and 1,001 Nights.
The queen, who was honored with the 2019 Craft Icon of the Year by the World Craft Council, said she “really appreciates rich Turkish embroidery and the regal designs which are used in the Turkish palaces and historical buildings.”
“I also adore how distinct Islamic influences are incorporated into Turkish designs, and many may not know about the close historical relationship between the [Malaysia] Johor royal family and the Turkish royal family.”
Her great-great-grandfather, the late Sultan Abu Bakar, married a Turkish woman, the late Sultanah Khatijah, she said.
He was also close to the late great Ottoman Sultan Abdul Hamid II – who reigned in 1876-1909 – she said, “so much so that when my great-great-grandfather Sultan Abu Bakar passed away in London [in 1895], Sultan Abdul Hamid sent his mufti and Turkish dignitaries to perform the burial rites before the body was sent back to Johor.”
The queen said she gets “excited” when she watches Payitaht: Abdul Hamid, a famous Turkish TV series about the life of the Ottoman Sultan Abdul Hamid II. “Because I get to recognize my ancestors and their beautiful customs,” she explained.
“In fact, it is also a way of bonding with my sisters when we discuss Turkish TV series.”
The queen also likes Turkish cuisine and loves watching Turkish cooking videos.
“I wish I spoke and understood Turkish because I also like to watch Turkish cooking videos. But most of all I enjoy watching Dirilis and Kurulus,” she added, mentioning two more popular Turkish TV series.
Tunku Azizah is so passionate about Turkish arts and crafts that every year for the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, she orders “Turkish products as gifts for family and dignitaries from Prenses Siparis,” a Turkish fashion designer.
After coming across a special Turkish-made bag, noting its “beautiful intricate crochet design, I straight away ordered it,” she said.
“When I ordered the bag, Gul [the designer] didn’t know who I was, even Prenses [another designer] didn’t know who I was,” Queen Azizah said, referring to two Turkish designers she favors.
She added that she had started planning to visit Turkey multiple times “but haven’t yet had the opportunity to do so.”
“It is one of my dreams to stay and explore Turkey for one month and visit all the historical and cultural sites. When the president of Turkey came to visit, we had already planned to travel to Turkey but it had to be postponed due to the pandemic,” she explained.
Merve Kavakci, Turkey’s ambassador to Malaysia, told Anadolu Agency that the king and queen were scheduled to visit Turkey this March 23 at the invitation of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
“While conducting the feverish work phase before the visit, we were faced with the reality of the COVID-19 pandemic,” as it spread quickly outside China that month, Kavakci said.
“Considering the situation, we postponed this visit to 2021. Inshallah, we will welcome them in the historical places of our country in the coming months,” she added.
* Sorwar Alam contributed to this report from Ankara.
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