Stone Ornamentation in Anatolian Turkish Architecture

The historical and literary resources concerned with Medieval Anatolia do not give sufficient information about the stone ornamentation in Anatolian Turkish architecture. Although the books written by Leon Parvilleé and Edhem Pasha in the last quarter of the nineteenth century include impressive drawings regarding Ottoman architecture, these studies are devoid of composition and pattern analyses. The first remarkable academic approach focused on Seljuk stone ornamentation is the doctorate dissertation of Semra Ögel, entitled “Anadolu Selçuklularının Taş Tezyinatı” (Stone Ornamentation of the Anatolian Seljuks) and completed in the second half of the 1960s. This work analyses all the ornamentation themes and puts forth certain comments concerning the sources of ornaments in this period. Arguments on the meanings of the ornaments are presented in another work of the same author called “Thoughts on Seljuk Art”. The doctorate and post-doctorate studies of Gönül Öney, produced during the same years focus on the figurative examples of the Seljuk stone ornamentations. Ten to fifteen years after these studies, the architectural elements of the Seljuks like mihrap and taçkapı are evaluated in terms of their ornamentations and their geometric compositions are analyzed by covering all Anatolia during the fourteenth and the fifteenth centuries. Especially, Gerd Schneider’s German book on the geometric and floral ornaments of the Seljuks involves very detailed drawings. However, since this study has not been translated into Turkish, it had a limited impact on the ensuing research. Doğan Kuban’s work on the ornamentations of the Divriği Complex that refers to them as “miracles” and evaluates the significance of this example against the background of the Islamic art of ornamentation is an important monograph dedicated to a single building. Other articles and theses excluding the above-mentioned research are mostly confined to definitions of motives and compositions. Although being informative, these studies cannot assess the meanings attached to these ornamentations in the light of contemporary sources.

Yıldıray Özbek

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