Appreciation – Istanbul Pt.17 – Carpet and Kilim Museum

After visiting the Topkapi palace, leaving via the Imperial Gate or Bab-ı-Humayun, I saw a grand looking gate immediately after the Topkapi palace entrance, just before the Fountain of Sultan Ahmet III, within the compounds of Aya Sofya. It is the entrance to yet another museum in the city – Carpet and Kilim Museum. You would be amazed how many museums are clustered in this area! Istanbul is really a city where you can just stand in one place and find a historical place or a museum somewhere nearby. This museum happens to be quite hidden to be honest, although many banners and posters let by-passers kow about the museum, but then again, one would easily miss it, thinking that the carpet museum would be inside Topkapi.

Unfortunately and strangely enough, this museum does not accept the Museum Card I had just bought. Considering that it is in the same compound and very near to the Topkapi Palace you would think that the management of this museum is the same across all the places. However, the entrance free is very cheap (10 Lira if I remember well) and you get access to a very beautiful selection of antique carpets in Turkey, and I think it is money well spent and worth your time, if you like to know more about carpets, which is one part of Islamic art as well.

The carpet museum was placed at where the imaret (soup kitchens) of Hagia Sophia used to be. Therefore you can see old ovens among the carpet displayed here. There are three separate rooms displaying carpets and kilims ftom the different regions and eras of Turkey, but if you are not careful you might miss the galleries as they are in separate buildings. You just need to follow the prompts closely to make sure you don’t miss anything.

The first gallery displays carpets from Beylikler (principalities) as well as early and classical Ottoman times. The second one houses more Ottoman Era Central and Eastern Anatolia carpets and prayer rugs, while the last gallery exhibit large Usak carpets and prayer rugs. Here you can see very large carpets that are used in homes as well as cuma carpets for mosques. In these galleries you can also read about the history of the carpets and the way they are made, as well as the motifs in the carpets and the kilims and their meanings. Some of the carpets are also hung above the old ovens like personal prayer carpets, to help you appreciate those carpets better. Some of the carpets are hung from the ceilings, exhibiting the size of these carpets, which is a very impressive feat considering they are all handmade. All of the carpets are from the 14th century up to the 19th century.

This museum is indispensable if you want to learn about the difference between the types of carpets on exhibit as well as help you to decipher and discover the motifs used in each of the carpet. I think it would be a nice museum to visit if you have a child with you so you can play find-the-motif games with them. You can entertain them and educate them along the way. If you have a high interest in Islamic art though, this museum is a must visit.

The Complex Geometry of Islamic Design

I had seen this video several times before this on Facebook, but I didn’t thought of posting it on this blog before!

This is a beautifully made video of a short introduction to the world of Islamic Design and art. If you are interested in Islamic art you should find this a very interesting insight indeed.

It is a lesson by Eric Broug, one of the most prominent teacher of Islamic art and design. I had recommended his book once, and this video should show you why his works are quite popular with Islamic art enthusiasts.

Appreciation – Istanbul Pt.14 – Hagia Sophia (Aya Sofya)

I finally went to the crowning glory of Istanbul, the Hagia Sophia. You can see this majestic behemoth of a beauty quite literally from anywhere in the city of Istanbul, sice it sits on top of one of the hills of the city. The soaring minarets and gargantuan dome and semi domes overlook Istanbul like a mother raising her hands heavenwards in a protective gesture.

And she is rightfully the mother of Istanbul. Built in 537 by the Byzantine emperor Justinian I over the ruins of an older church , It has seen city in its course of history, from Constantinople to Qistantiniyya to Istanbul. She also had seen herself dedicated to different sects and religions, from a Byzantine Cathedral, to Greek Orthodox, to Roman Catholic, to Islam and finally secularized in 1935 by the newly established Turkish Republic.

When you first approached the museum you will be astounded by how expansive the building is. Realizing that it is almost 1500 Years old makes it even more unbelievable. Knowing that this part of the world is quite prone to earthquakes makes the church-turned mosque-turned museum even more impressive. When you think about it, if there would be a particularly violent earthquake shook Istanbul at that time and then, God forbid it won’t ever happen, the minarets would fall over and crush everything in its vicinity.

There was a very very long queue going into the museum. Understandably, it is one of the most famous museum in Istanbul or even the most known museum of all Turkey, so everyone visiting the city would want to visit this incredible site. Thankfully with the new Museum pass I just purchased from the Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts, I managed to bypass everyone and went directly to the security kiosk. After security check I went to the entrance of the museum. Before entering the site there was a coffee shop and lots of people were there enjoying the afternoon under the shade of the Hagia Sophia. On the grounds there were also remnants of the old church that was there. Carved marble cornices, broken pillars, stone lecterns and other tidbits were scattered upon the grounds, with fats stray cats happily strolling and lounging on the artifacts.

I did not waste my time in the coffee shops as one look at the prices immediately put me off. Instead I walked directly into the museum. Before entering the main hall, in the true style of Byzantine cathedrals, there was a forecourt or a corridor, or in this case called the Narthex. Here you can see several placards about the museums history throughout the ages as well as extracted elements from each era. There was also a very large stone sarcophagus lying in the corridor leading up to the gift shop which is on the right side of the Narthex, apparently it was of an Empress’s. You can also see 9th century mosaics on the top of the main doors depicting Jesus and the churches’ benefactors prostrating before Christ.

As you walked through the Imperial doors with the cross clearly torn away, and noticing the age old stone flooring now smooth because of the number of the visitors thoughout history, You cannot help but the crane your gaze upwards towards the high soaring dome. I know I did and I actually gasped in awe. The left side of the museum was barricaded due to the restoration works. A pity as that might be, it was no distraction to the majesty of this sacred space. I think this is how Justinan I felt when he first step foot in his church and proclaimed “Solomon, I have surpassed thee”.  In the middle of the dome was a calligraphic medallion from the Ottoman times, citing the Nur chapter of the Qur’an. Indeed, when you walked into the space, light was in abundance – as if the whole building was a dedication to light and everything it brings. Indeed the name Hagia Sophia means the Holy Wisdom, and you can feel that as you are bathed in light the church-mosque afforded.

Going directly to the Apse, you pass by the Omphalion, the circular design in the floor where Byzantine emperors were crowned, a Muezzin Mahfili and Mimbar, both an Islamic ottoman addition, before stopping in front of the Mihrab and gazing before the mosaic of Virgin and Child up high above the apse.  Underneath the Mimbar, you can see a curious Iznik tile depicting the Kaaba and Mecca.

Not being able to go to the right hand side from the Apse, I went to the left side corridor, where there were more Ottoman additions to the building, such as the gilded caged kiosk that is the Sultan Mahmud I Library, as well as old tall mobile wooden ladders for cleaning the church. Tall mighty columns with metal clasps hold the gallery in the left corridors. There was also a curious marble jar, although I couldn’t gather any more information about the jar that is large enough to fit a man in, as there were crowds around the placard. If you see on the ceiling you can see Byzantine era floral decorations over faded crosses, apparently a product of the iconoclastic era of the Byzantines.

I then made my way to the second floor from the Narthex via a very, very, VERY high ramp. The ramp was large and wide, and the floor was very slippery , again from the sheer number of visitors going up and down these ramps. The space was dark and cold, and dotted with small windows every now and then over the floors.

After what seems like an eternity in a cold damp area, you once again be bathed in the abundant light on the second floor. In the galleries of the second floor you can see more of the Byzantine remnants of the church such as the Deesis, a 13th century mosaic depicting Jesus flanked by his mother  Mary and John the Baptist. Also you can see an older 11th Century mosaic depicting Jesus and Empress Zoe. An impressive marble doors called the Door of Heaven and Hell stood separating the wes t and south galleries. The grave of Enrico Dondolo, the Venetian Doge who died in 1205 was also here, although this carved site is relatively recent, done in the 19th century.  The gallery was decorated with the same Byzantine decorations  of geometric patterns and floral motifs over faded crosses, like the one you can see in the lower half of the museum.

I took a bit of time exploring every available nook and cranny of the museum, Although I truly believed that I did not explore enough of this place. After the visit it seemed that I missed one of the mosaics because it faced the exit of the museum. Perhaps next time, I will bring a tour guide with me so I can learn more of this place.DSCN0997

The first thing you will see upon entering the main hall. Glass chandeliers hung from the tall ceilings, Islamic calligraphy in medallions mingle with Christian iconography.

 

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The main dome of the Hagia Sophia. Sorry for the overexposure, but this only shows you how the moque-church is so full of light. The calligraphy in the middle is from the Quran, The Nur Chapter. Underneath it is presumably a mosaic of Jesus, however uncovering it means dismantling and possibly destroying the calligraphy.

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The Mihrab of the Hagia Sophia, an Ottoman addition. Note that it is slightly to the right – this is because the Qibla (Mecca) faces a slightly different direction from Jerusalem, which this building originally faces.

 

 

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The Mimbar, another Ottoman addition. The colouring and the materials used for this Mimbar almost seemed like it was built originally for the mosque-church.

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A mosaic of the Tughra of Sultan Abdul Mecid. This is displayed in the inner (I think( Narthex of the Hagia Sophia, along with other curious artifacts, including a sarcophagus of an empress.

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The Library of Sultan Mahmut I. The gilded cage reflects the same opulence the Hunkar Mahfili (which was bariccaded when I visited) was given near the Mihrab of the Mosque. This library can be seen on the right hand side of the Hagi Sophia’s main hall as you enter.

 

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An Iznik tile panel supposedly featuring an illustration of The Kaaba and Mecca…but why is it replaced with a floral motif pattern?  This is found underneath the Mimbar, although I cannot approach it closely as it was off limits. Thank goodness for 30x Zoom camera.

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The icon of The Virgin Mary cradling an infant Jesus juxtaposed with the absolutely massive calligraphy medallion bearing the name of Allah.

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The writer, on the balcony overlooking the main hall.  You can see the barricades on the left side.

Internet Finds -Virtual Museums

In the light of the COVID-19 pandemic sweeping across the nations, like many many people out there I am too confined to my house, as I am seen as unfit to go to work like my fellow colleagues. So I have a lot of time to fill after WFH duties, and as a student of Islamic art, what can we do to satisfy our curiosity on the subject of Islamic art and architecture?

I came across an article in Facebook about several museums offering virtual tours of their galleries, and though some of them do offer galleries on Islamic art (and their offerings on other kinds of subjects are also very substantial, if you appreciate history and art in general, you should consider a visit!) most of them only share a little glimpse on the vast world of Islamic artistry. Here I share with you my fellow stay-at-home WFH friends to satiate the hunger for Islamic beauty.

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The British Museum of this very fascinating Virtual Tour of their collections, spanning thousands of years across the continents and cultures. In this Guitar Hero like format featuring a cute tinkle when you pass a something in the timeline, you only click on a dot to see a featured artifact (like what I did with this Gold Coin of Abdul Malik) and learn more about it as well as the history and the culture of which the item is identified with. It also features audio guides!

They also feature a Google Map of the museum, so you can virtually, step-by-step, visit the all galleries safely behind your computer screen.

It has been a lifelong dream of me to be able to visit the British Museum and perhaps one day I may be able to accomplish it, but for now this is sufficient. An excellent Virtual Museum from an excellent Museum!

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Although not as interactive as the British Museum Virtual Galleries, Museum With No Frontiers Islamic Art section is a robust gallery of information on many topics of Islamic Art. You can discover the usual subjects such as the Geometric art or Calligraphy, or something that is more obscure like the Mudejar Art in Spain. If you love Islamic art like me you wouldn’t want to miss this opportunity of take a look at these galleries and learn a little bit more about the beauty of Islamic art and architecture!

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The Met Museum does not have its own virtual gallery, however there are a lot of resources and articles on a wide variety of subjects on Islamic art, a peek into a specially built room within the museum as well as videos and collection highlights. The collections are beautifully presented digitally and definitely worth a visit.

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Although offering no virtual museum of their own, you can still browse several selected artifacts in the galleries of this museum. Like other museum they are also affected by the COVID-19 scare, and closed their doors. The museum features Islamic art and architecture encompassing many of the Islamic regions, including the less noted but no less important Nusantara (Malay Peninsula) region. Being so close I have to feature this museum as it is one of the first places I went to for my independent Islamic art study. Come take a look and you have have a warrant to visit this place the next time you travel after this pandemic is finished.

I hope these virtual galleries and museums will tide you over during these hard times and perhaps inspire you for your next museum visit once this dire situation is over, and most importantly it will take your mind off eating your supply of food…I know it did for me! Happy browsing!

 

Observations – Isra & Mi’raj in Miniature

A few days ago, amidst the COVID-19 scare around the world, we Muslims celebrated a night on the 27th of Rejab (corresponding to 22nd of March, on a Sunday), a night that we called the Isra’ & Mi’raj.

Also known as the Lailatul Mi’raj (Arabic) Israk Mikraj (Malay ) Mirac Kandili (Turkish) and Shab-e-Miraj (Iran, India, Pakistan and Bangladesh), it was a celebration of remembrance of the night where the Prophet Muhammad traveled on a creature named the Burak from Mecca to Palestine in a single night – unheard of  during his time – and his ascension to the heavens above where he met other prophets such as Ibrahim Alaihi Salam (Abraham), Musa Alaihi Salam (Moses) Isa Alaihi Salam (Jesus) and other prophets before meeting Allah himself. On this night Allah commanded us Muslims to pray five times a day.

The Isra and Mi’raj is one of the most significant of events in the Islamic calendar, particularly because on this night Allah commanded the five daily prayers, one of the key pillar of Islam. Throughout history, Muslims remembered this event in their own way, some offered extra supplications and prayers. Some dedicated artworks to commemorate this miraculous event, as this article will shed a light upon. Many artworks, in particular miniatures, were made to remember this night.

NOTE : I will not add any miniatures that features the Prophet Muhammad unveiled, as this is for me at least disrespectful towards the holy image of the Prophet. I will only feature those that have the Prophet’s face veiled. Also the Burak and the Angels depicted in the miniatures are purely of the imagination of the painter, so please, especially if you are not  Muslim, do not take the miniatures to be the rightful images of the holy beings. Should you be interested in the miniatures that feature the Prophet unveiled you may Google them, bearing in mind that those images are merely the imaginations of the illustrators, as usually these miniatures were made long after the demise of the Prophet. 

This work is coming form a Khamseh of Nizami. It is ascribed to Sultan Muhammad (Wikipedia). This work depicts the Prophet (centre, with his face veiled ) upon the Burak ascending into heaven. The angels surrounding him carries various items, such as an incense burner, a crown, a robe as well as food, offering them to the Prophet as he rode the Burak. One of the angel with the fire halo in front of the Prophet is thought to be Jibril (Gabriel). The angels and the clouds were clearly Chinese influenced.

Creator:Nizami (Ilyas Abu Muhammad Nizam al-Din of Ganja) Book Title – Iskandarnama (The book of Iskandar) (Wikipedia). In this miniature we see again the Prophet upon the Burak, with his face veiled, being lead on by an angel (probably Jibril the Archangel) while being looked upon by other angels.  The crown and the hair of the angels were characteristically Persian. 

Makhzan al-Asrār by Niẓāmīمخزن الاسرار Folio 3v The Prophet on Burāq (From https://classicalastrologer.me/2015/12/24/thisra-and-miraj/)  Here you can see the Prophet on the top right with angels following him, in front of a map of the constellation.

Prophet Muhammad travels the seven heavens on Buraq, (from https://classicalastrologer.me/2015/12/24/thisra-and-miraj/) Here the image of the Prophet is fully replaced by a fire, visiting each level of Heaven.

A Persian miniature taken from the Siyer-i Nebi is a Turkish epic about the life of Muhammad, completed around 1388. The Ottoman ruler Murad III commissioned a lavish illustrated copy of the work. The calligrapher Lutfi Abdullah completed the work in 1595. The Prophet Muhammad is always shown veiled. The Isra and Mi’raj, are the two parts of a Night Journey, according to Islamic tradition, the prophet Muhammad took during a single night around the year 621, described as both a physical and spiritual journey. In the journey, Muhammad travels to “the farthest mosque” where he leads other prophets in prayer. The illustration depicting the Isra is captioned: ” During the night journey, Muhammad led patriarchs, Old Testament prophets and angels in prayer in a celestial mosque.” (fromhttps://www.sciencesource.com/archive/The-Isra–Muhammad-s-Night-Journey–621-AD-SS2439414.html)

Appreciation – Istanbul Pt.12 – Fuad Pasa Mosque and Tomb

After the sun sets in Edirnekapi, and as the night falls on Istanbul, we made our way back to the Fatih district. We headed to back to Fatih Camii to offer our Isya’ prayers. After the prayer service we went to a coffee house, where we had a nice relaxing cup of Turkish Coffee. It was my first time and by golly, what a first time it was. Thick and rich, not bitter and not too sweet, it is a taste that I will never soon forget. After taking in the beautiful but cold night view of Fatih Camii and the whole of Istanbul on the rooftop of the cafe, we called it a night, said our goodbyes and parted ways.

Istanbul is a very, very large city. Walking from place to place takes time, and thanks to the many steep hills that dot the old part of the City, it was a tedious task as well. As there is no transport systems around the area I was staying in (Kadirga) I was to traverse these hills every so often, and I had to walk for quite a time.  By the time I arrived to my hotel, it was already 1 am. You would think after a long long day of walking around and touring the city, I would be so tired I would sleep as soon as I hit the pillow, but no, I stay awake until around 2, watching Turkish drama reruns that I do not know the language at all.

After waking up quite late (around 8, which is late for me) I decided to explore the nearby Sultan Ahmet Square or the Hippodrome and the surrounding areas on my own. While on my way upwards the hill towards the square, I came across a delicate little jewel of a mosque with unique designs. I decided to stop before continuing on my journey.

The full name of this small mosque is Kececizade Fuat Pasa Camii, and apart from an educated guess that this mosque and tomb complex was built by someone named Fuad Pasa sometime in the 19th century, I did not know much of any information on this moque. I swore I had taken a photo of the mosque’s information but I do not know where I stored it.

The mosque is small and given the location that it is nestled between tall more modern building, the modesty of the mosque is even more pronounced. The building is heavily decorated inside and outside, although not in the usual language of other Ottoman mosque. What I see here is an experimentation of different styles, an encroaching western aesthetic values so common in the late Ottoman era. You can see the influences of Noe-Gothic style in the tall windows and portals, with very peculiar type of Arabesques and geometric designs carved into the walls. All these mosque and tomb is set inside a delicate little garden, surmounted by a modest minaret, which looks more traditional than the rest of the mosque.

Inside, the late Ottoman painted style lavishly decorated the walls and ceilings. The small dome is decorated with painted Ottoman murals in mustard yellow and blue. Eight pointed stars dot the perimeter of the dome. The pillars of the prayer hall is painted with a unique design of Arabesques and celtic-knot like decoration, in red and blue. The tall gothic windows illuminate the hall richly, and all these beautiful paintings cometo life with the light. Dark red prayer rugs were spread upon the floor under a modern looking metal and glass chandelier. A mihrab and a Mimbar in grey marble, a characteristic of any Ottoman mosques, stood in silence in front of the hall.

I did not take long visiting the mosque, and before I know it I was out of the building and making my way up the hill towards Hagia Sophia. Although I had a slight confusion as the mosque compound can be entered from two streets and I exited from a different street from when I entered it, I nevertheless can see myself out of the counpiund rather easily, giving that the Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque can easily be seen from either of the streets. Although small, if you ever had the chance to visit Istanbul, you should stop by this beautiful little gem and appreciate the work that had been put into it.

 

 

 

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A Gothic style window on the main mosque building.

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The Turbe (Tomb) of Fuad Pasha. The intricate doors and carving is really unique.

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A Marble carving featuring the eight pointed star under where the Imam would read his Khutba on the Mihrab. Unusual as these geometric patterns are usually tessellated.

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The painted decoration under the dome of the mosque.  Again the disjointed  eight pointed stars are featured prominently in this mosque – perhaps a breakaway from the usual Ottoman design language.

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A closeup of the decoration under the dome

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The marble Mimbar of the mosque, in a simple shape

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An overhead view of the main prayer hall. I think this is taken from the Hunkar Mahfili (The Sultan’s lodge)

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Another view of the main prayer hall and this time showing the mihrab as well.

 

Appreciation – Istanbul Trip Pt.11 – Edirnekapi

As the sun is going down the horizon, we set for Edirnekapi, the west end part of the old city of Istanbul. I learned that the area is called Edirnekapi because apparently this is where a gate back then stood where it leads to Edirne, one of the Ottoman city in European Turkey. Soon enough, as we approached the district, there is a large tall ancient looking wall that stood during the Byzantine empire in the distance. This is where it seems where the Ottomans broke into Constantinople during the 1453 siege. This area seems to me to be more traditional than the rest of Istanbul ; the locale looked more middle eastern than the rest of Istanbul, where uncles and aunties wear traditional Islamic attire. In fact, I think there are a lot more older people in this area. When we arrived it was quite busy with traffic, perhaps it was during the rush hour, where everyone was going home after a day of work.

As we strolled around the wall, we found bits of interesting designs, some apparently Byzantine, with Christian crosses and acanthus leaves motifs. There were also a few calligraphic panels, seemingly from the Ottoman era, particularly near the gate. We climbed the quite tall wall of old Constantinople before sunset to take a panoramic view over Istanbul and witness the magnificent amber colour of the sunset. There was a deep dark well nearby – perhaps a remnant of a turret or a tower from the old wall. Other than that, the wall does not offer anything else but the history it held, and the panoramic view of the city it offers

Now, I was quite sure before going to Edirnekapi, we stopped by a mosque – you can see the photos below where I had noted it. The trouble is, I could not remember the name of the mosque and I could not identify it! There are a few unique features this mosque has, where the decoration were mostly painted on. But the name and exact location of this mosque escapes my mind. Perhaps my readers can enlighten me on this? If you have any information on this mosque with these few pictures I had provided I would like to know more! Please leave your comments below.

As the call of prayer reverberates from the minaret of the Mihrimah Sultan Mosque, we started to go down the wall and proceeded to the mosque for Maghrib prayers.  The mosque is quite unique. Like Yavuz Sultan Selim Mosque, the plan of the mosque is square, sitting on top of a terrace. In front of the mosque is a courtyard with a sadirvan in the center, a common feature of Ottoman mosques. A single minaret stood on one corner of the cube that is the prayer hall. Unlike Yavuz Sultan Selim mosque though, the mosque is taller and the dome is taller as well. The mosque is commissioned by Sultan Suleiman the Great with his daughter Mihrimah Sultan’s namesake, designed by the famous Ottoman architect Mimar Sinan. There is also another mosque with the same name and the Asian side of Istanbul. When I read up about these mosques and why there were named similarly,  there was an interesting story about the Princess, Mihrimah Sultan and the Imperial Architect, Mimar Sinan. Apparently, Sinan was in love with the Princess, who was then the wife of the governor of Diyarbakir. His love could not be, and he expressed this hopeless love with these mosques. The singular minaret for the Edirnekapi mosque represents the loneliness of the great architect for his love. Another extremely interesting thing is that the Edirnekapi mosque was built where the sun goes down on 21st of March every year (which is a week before I had visited). This particular date is in fact the birthday of the Princess. It is said that on this day, one can see the sun set past the minaret of the Edirnekapi mosque, and the Moon rise past the Uskudar (Asian side of Istanbul) Mihrimah Sultan mosque. To add to the beauty of this story, the name Mihrimah actually means Sun and Moon in Persian.

*Le Sigh.*

The mosque itself was tall, large and airy, thanks to the presence of large windows on most of the walls. Typical of Ottoman architecture, the building utilizes a lot of marble. Decoration were done in a harmonious colour combination of blue and red, and this is presented nicely with the calligraphic medallions under the main dome as well as the arches supporting the dome. The calligraphy works themselves are quite beautiful and unique. Those on the arches supporting the dome is particularly interesting, as it combines calligraphy and geometric design. I think I will recreate one in the future. The main calligraphy medallion under the dome is a work on the Nur Chapter ayat 35 (24:35) of the Quran, another favourite subject or Ottoman calligraphists. The ayat rang even truer here, where light flooded the space in abundance. Even in the late afternoon soon-to-be-sunset time, the light just permeates every inch of the building. A large iron chandelier hands in the middle of the mosque, hanging from the massive dome.

As the night falls after the prayer service , we proceeded to another mosque, the last one for the long day of Islamic art and architecture tour.

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The panoramic view of the city, seen from the old city wall.

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A dome decoration in a mosque

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Painting decoration that looks like the pattern in an Iznik tiles

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A hadith (Prophetic Saying) calligraphic work

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The lone minaret of the Mihrimah Sultan Mosque in Edirnekapi

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The interior of the mosque with the tall airy space

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The central dome of the mosque

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Another view of the dome, with the four calligraphic-geometric design medallions

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A close up of the marble Mihrab

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The central design in the carpet of the mosque, of a radial design featuring a seven pointed star, seven five pointed stars and fourteen six pointed stars. The design mirrors the on under the dome, but of course, without the calligraphy.

Observation : What Will We Lose If a War in Iran Broke Out

In recent years we have seen wars breaking out all over the world particularly in the middle east, and this means losing our cultural heritages to the ravages and destruction of war, Islamic or not.

When the new year, and the new decade is just a few days old, the threat of a war between the United States and Iran became more and more apparent. Especially, after the murder of General Soleimani of Iran. Now, I am not going to talk about politics (as it is one of my most despised topic) but if ever the war break out, the damage would not be not on the leaders of these two countries, but the civilians, the people of these two countries, their friends and families, their properties, and their spaces not to mention their cultural heritages.

Iran has a rich history of art and architecture stretching back way before Islam. Persian art and architecture become instrumental in the development of Islamic art and architecture, as many feature of the former influenced the latter. Without saying, Iran is where many wonders of the Islamic world are. Seljuk, Ilkhanid, Timurid, Safavid, Zand and Qajar empires and dynasties all in one point in time, made Iran a part of their territory, in some parts or all of the country. I had never been there, although it is one of my wish to go there to study the extensive Islamic art and architecture this impressive country has to offer. How can I study these empires and dynasties, should a war broke out?

If the war between these two countries break out, we are at risk on losing several important significant Islamic wonders in Iran, for example :

The Shah Mosque, Soltani Mosque or Imam Mosque in the Grand Bazaar in Tehran ;

The Jameh Mosque of Isfahan ;

Kerman Friday Mosque in Kerman, Iran ;

Nasir-ol-molk Mosque or the Pink Mosque in Shiraz, and

Absolutely not forgetting the majestic Sheikh Lotfallah mosque in Isfahan, Iran.

We had lost many Islamic marvels and wonders because of the destruction that war had caused in recent years, for example in Iraq or Syria, and if this tension continues between the United States and Iran and escalates into another frightening war, then it would be imminent we will lose more of our irreplaceable heritage, all because of the acts of egotistical leaders.

I hope that nothing will happen from this situation, and I hope once again  the region and the world will find peace.

Happy New Year 2020

For all my readers and followers, I would like to say Happy New Year 2020!

At this start of the new decade I would like to wish everyone eventful and happy years ahead, and together we explore Islamic art and architecture for the years to come.

Expect more of the Turkish Islamic art and architecture series in the coming days, with sprinkling of my observations and studies on various Islamic or Islamic influenced art in other cultures and countries. Hopefully, by the end of this year I will be able to make another trip to Turkey, to visit important Seljuk sites and cities. I have very little information and knowledge on this Islamic civilization, and it would be a great interest if I could study them in person via their art and architecture, Insha Allah. I will announce the plans for my trip soon.

I have great interest in expanding my knowledge on Mughal and Chinese Islamic art and architecture, although for the time being, because of the current situation in these countries (India and China), I have to postpone my plans. Perhaps I could divert my attention to Pakistan instead, or other Central Asian countries. I also wanted to go to Egypt, but I have to postpone the plan for a while, perhaps for another trip in 2021. I just needed to find a reliable tour agent as I had never been to Egypt, nor Pakistan, India or China.

I have been thinking about joining Eric Broug’s programme as a teacher for Islamic geometric patterns, however, the costs had kept me to shy away from it. Perhaps, another plan for the years to come?

I am planning for a Youtube channel for this website as well by this year, to house my travel videos as well as deconstruction and construction videos, among other things that you might find useful whether in the Islamic sense or just in general.  I hope this idea will come into fruition, so please do check back often.

I would love to hear more about your opinions on what should I study next and questions and corrections from you on the topics that I had discussed here in this blog.

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Once again, I would like to wish everyone a happy and prosperous new year.