A man, possibly a Sufi, in traditional red Ottoman clothing looks in dismay at a series of small nuisances in the form of tortoises. His musical instruments—a traditional drum and flute—aren’t adequate for the task of taming reptiles.
“The Tortoise Trainer,” or Kaplumbağa Terbiyecisi (1906), was painted by the Ottoman intellectual Osman Hamdi Bey a mere decade and a half before the final fall of the world’s longest-lasting empire. In parody of the futile attempts of reform of the Tanzimat, the anachronistic tortoise trainer can’t bring order to the slowest reptile.
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