Medieval Anatolian architectural hybridities

 Until the establishment of Ottoman suzerainty over the region in the mid-fifteenth century, Anatolia was a place of cultural “betweenness.”

The Seljuks were the first Turkish Muslim entity to become established in the region (the Byzantine defeat by the Seljuk Turks took place 1071; TN). They were followed by many other similar Turkish and Persian-speaking principalities, which existed either as subservient to the Seljuks or in direct competition with them.

At the same time, the Armenians established their own principality and, later, kingdom in the region. And after the First Crusade, a Latin Crusader state was established around Antioch. This was followed by the entrance of the Mongols into the region. Those Mongols who had converted to Islam (and were known as the Ilkhanids) extended their territory into Anatolia in the mid-thirteenth century, forming the largest contiguous land empire in the history of humankind.

As all of these political entities established themselves in Anatolia, they supported the construction of churches, mosques, religious schools (medreses, or ma-drassas), dervish lodges ( zaviyes), and caravansaries (inns), completely transforming the physical landscape both of urban areas and the hinterland. These physical structures, in turn, altered the cultural life of the region, by providing spaces within which individuals could gather to pray, study, or participate in the development of mystical religious practices.

The architectural programs funded in Anatolia—by a range of individuals associated with myriad local principalities—altered the urban and rural landscapes of the region. On a purely aesthetic level, these architectural programs are material evidence of the kind of hybridity that was common in late medieval Anatolia. Many of the masons and architects constructing new “Islamic” buildings (e.g., mosques, madrassas, and dervish lodges) were members of indigenous Christian populations. As a result, while many of the buildings and their functions were new, the physical appearance of much of the early Islamic architecture of Anatolia looks very similar to what is traditionally considered the Armenian, Byzantine, and Georgian (i.e., Christian) architecture of the region.

This blog quotes a portion of "Diversity in the Medieval Middle East - Inclusions, Exclusions, Supporters, and Discontents" by  Rachel Oshgarian which can be found here. Illustration: Ruins of the Cathedral of Ani and the church of Redeemer in Ani, an ancient capital of Armenia in the 10th century; photo by Antonio, source Wikipedia Commons

Support TemplarsNow™ by becoming a Patrontipping us or buying one of our Reliable Books

No comments: