View of Ankara in the collection of Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, Netherlands reveals the importance of mohair-based trade and sof weaving in the history of Ankara by depicting Angora goats, woolen materials on looms, women in sof feraces, merchants, and a caravan carrying goods from Ankara.
The “SOF” fabric called “Engürü* -sof’ plays an important role in the economical and social history of Ankara. Sof weaving has not only connected important commercial centers such as Holland, England, Poland, and Venice to Ankara since the 16’th century, it has also played an important role in the social life of that era as it can be seen in the View of Ankara painting. Later on, in the 19th Century, “Sof” weaving came to a stop. The “Sof” fabric which was admired by foreign merchants back in the days, is being revived with individual and corporate projects nowadays.
According to the story of this painting, whose painter is anonymous, the Dutch ambassador Cornelis Haga comes to Istanbul at the beginning of the 16th century and starts the diplomatic relations exceeding 400 years, between Holland and the Ottoman Empire. His role in this story is important for us to be able to give an opinion regarding the initial orderer and owner of the painting. When we look into the details of the painting, we can see that it is different from the scenery painting perception of the era and that it conveys the entire process of the Sof fabric commerce that was being carried out in Ankara; therefore the painting directs us to a person who is active in this environment and most probably a person who generates quite good income from this commercial activity. For this reason, Cornelis Haga is an important name as he plays an important role in the foundation of the Near East Maritime Commercial Committee in 1625, where our painting was being displayed before it was received by the Rijksmuseum. As the flow of events in the picture is from right to the left, it implicates that the painter maybe someone from the local community.
View of Ankara contains a great deal of history. It describes the commercial relations of the 18th century that extends from the Ottoman Empire to Holland, and the youth of Ankara, and the commercial and clothing culture of Ankara’s society of that era. Besides its value in terms of Art History, it reminds us of the life experience, labor, and cultural values of our past that we have forgotten due to the daily routines of our lives.
*Engürü: One of the previous names of Ankara (Angora).