Semantic Studies in the History of Anatolian Seljukid Architecture

Publications on Anatolian Seljuq architecture might be divided into two groups. The first is taxonomic studies (classification and description of things), which focus on the inventory of architectural characteristics; the second is hermeneutical studies (interpretation) which make the use of the concepts borrowed from political science, sociology, theology, theosophy, cosmology, mythology and the like. These realms shape architecture, hence become intermediary in hermeneutical studies, which starts with the question: "What is the meaning of this?" We may subdivide the latter publications in two. The first is the studies into meaning through cultural contexts and politics; the second is the studies into meaning through 'medieval understanding of cosmos'. The first part covers concepts as such: D. Kuban's 'syncretism'; S. Redford's 'expression of monarchy', 'sultanic domain' and 'Persianate ideal of kingship'; E. S. Wolper's 'Seljuk style portal' and 'common visual lexicon'. The second part covers concepts as such: S. Ögel's 'old cosmic images of Asia', 'cosmic order', 'images of cosmos/sovereignty' and 'image of royal prestige'; G. Akın's 'cave image', 'gate of fertility', 'cosmic design', 'microcosmic character', 'Shamanist representation of cosmos' and 'symbol of tevhid (unity)'; D. Kuban's 'Paradise' and 'image of another world or after world'; A.U. Peker's 'gate of earth and sky', 'cosmic mountain', 'duality', 'area of transition', 'intermediary realm' and 'imaginary intermediary region (berzah)'. Scholarly endeavor to understand Seljuk architecture actually is an aim to 'understand intentions' (from H.G. Gadamer). According to Gadamer, our attempt to understand intentions is an interpretation. Hence, the response to the question "What is the meaning of this" is based on an understanding of intentions; hence it is interpretation-wise for the reason that it is not the demonstration of constant facts, which is the response to another question "What is this?"


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