The Flight of the Falcon

Rhoads Murphey reflects on a thousand years of Turkic cultural development.

Is art the reflection of society and its values, the tastes and personal ambitions of rich patrons, or the artistic creativity of the artist transcending both the conventions of society and the constraints of patronage? Confronted by the Royal Academy’s assembly of some 350 objects associated with Turkic culture, ranging in date over a thousand years, in geographical range from China to the Mediterranean, one is tempted to dismiss such questions and simply revel in the artistic genius that produced them.  Yet it is legitimate to speculate about whether there is a quality in Turkic culture that unifies it across time and space.

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