The ascent, and descent, of man

A reader asks...

By John Scott | January 28, 2014


‘I wonder if this poster has featured in any of your issues,’ writes Gray Standen.

‘It shows the life cycle of a Turkish businessman who lives to the age of 100 and is accompanied by a complete life cycle poem by the Anatolian poet Karagaoğlan, who was rediscovered in 1923. I purchased it last August and have been trying ever since to find about the artist, when he created it and for what purpose.

‘It may have been made not only to celebrate the rediscovery of the poet, but also to teach people about the new modern state. If you know anything about the poster, I would be most grateful to hear it.’

Unfortunately it hasn't ever appeared in Cornucopia. So we turned to Orlando Calumeno, an expert and collector of late Ottoman and early Republican ephemera, who instantly replied:

The poster is commonly seen in Turkey in media, postcards and posters. Very typical of the 1940s when the state was trying to teach Turkish people the virtues and various steps of life. This theme was heavily used in 1940s and 1950s, though we also see some earlier copies in the mid-late 1930s. The copy attached is definitely late 1940s (the print colours, method and design, along with the Adam and Eve portrayal). The general concept was copied from France, which used similar slogans and designs in the 1920s and 1930s (steps in the life of man). The addition of a Turkish poet’s poem is the only matter added to the French design; the people illustrated are of European (French) origin, from the game played by the young child to the robe worn by the old man and the Adam and Eve design.

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