The Sacred Journey: Rediscovering the Ottoman Hajj Route Exhibition

Ottoman Hajj route rediscovering again with “The Sacred Journey” exhibition in London. The exhibition organized by Yunus Emre Institute in London, recreates the life of the Ottoman Hajj route through pictures, documents, maps and artefacts collected by Professor Petersen and his colleagues over years of archaeological work.

The Sacred Journey: Rediscovering the Ottoman Hajj Route Exhibition, will be available to visit between 18th November to 17th December 2021 at Yunus Emre Institute London in Bloomsbury. Accompanying this exhibition will be a 4-part lecture series taking place both online and offline, exploring different aspects of the pilgrimage.

Curated by Professor Andrew Petersen, the Director of Research in Islamic Archaeology at the University of Wales Trinity Saint David, the exhibition charts this spiritual journey through history and recreates the life of the Ottoman Hajj through pictures, documents, maps and artefacts collected by Professor Petersen and his colleagues over years of archaeological work.

The lecture series will cover topics including:
⦁ “Playing at the Sacred/Secular Boundary: the Hajj Mahmals of Cairo” with Professor Richard McGregor taking place online, Thursday 25th November 2021, 6:30 -7:30 pm.
⦁ “The Iron Camel and Its Tracks: The Hejaz Railway and its legacy” with Dr Mehmet Tütüncü taking place in-person, Thursday 2nd December, 6:30 -7:30 pm.
⦁ “Mecca in Bosnia: How Ottoman Bosnians imagined the Hajj’” with Dr Dženita Karić taking place in-person, Thursday 9th December, 6:30 -7:30 pm.
⦁ “The ‘Pilgrims’ Companion’: a late-sixteenth century guide to the hajj” with Yahya Nurgat taking place in-person, Thursday 16th December, 6:30 -7:30 pm.

The Hajj and exhibition

The Hajj is one of the five pillars of Islam central to Muslim belief and is a deeply personal journey. It is a pilgrimage to Mecca that every Muslim must make at least once in their lifetime if they are able. Taking place for centuries, this historic journey is one of transformation as well as a sacred duty.

This pilgrimage evolved from an arduous journey that took months to a quicker and more comfortable journey with the development of modern means of travel. While no sultan undertook the journey, the Ottoman dynasty celebrated the Hajj’s importance over its six-century rule. Once the Empire gained control over Damascus, Egypt and Hijaz during the early part of the 16th century under Sultan Selim I, the pilgrimage was faced with a new opportunity for change. The new Hajj route started from the Balkans via Istanbul, Anatolia through Damascus, and Jerusalem. With Ottoman oversight, the route saw the development of vibrant public buildings, forts, mosques, water cisterns and Caravanserais which all fed into the dramatic social, cultural and economic change in the regions surrounding it.

The exhibition is free to visit throughout over the 4 weeks it will be taking place during Yunus Emre Institute in London’s opening hours, between 10am and 6pm. The talks must be booked separately on Eventbrite.

This exhibition is supported by University of Wales Trinity St David, London Central Mosque and Turkish Airlines.

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