Art Histories Seminar
Do 03 Dez 2015 | 16:00–18:00

Artifacts as Sources of Wisdom and Wonder: Intersections between Ottoman Books on Architecture and European Travel Narratives in the 17th Century

Gül Kale (Art Histories Fellow 2015/16)

Forum Transregionale Studien, Wallotstr. 14, 14193 Berlin

Mosque lamp, Iznik, mid-16th century, The Victoria and Albert Museum, London (photograph by Gül Kale).
Mosque lamp, Iznik, mid-16th century, The Victoria and Albert Museum, London (photograph by Gül Kale).

Cafer Efendi’s emphasis on the embodied experiences of artifacts and their potential to transform the beholder underscores his book on architecture, Risāle-i Mi’māriyye (c.1614). The enhanced interest in the agency of artwork within scientific circles and among middle- to high-ranking officials created an audience and source of patronage beyond the imperial household. This attitude is closely linked to a shift in the public display and experience of art. In this presentation, I examine gifts made by the chief architect Mehmed Agha to discuss the perception of artifacts according to a scholar. In addition, the Sultan Ahmed Mosque in Istanbul is noted in historical accounts to house rare books and curious objects.

I discuss this attitude in relation to the recognition of artifacts as agents of knowledge in the early modern Ottoman world. Most of the European accounts in the 17th century regarding the display of precious artifacts also belong to the interior of the Sultan Ahmed Mosque. Thus my aim is to disclose that the inherent link between new public spheres, artistic experiences, and philosophical discourses in the Ottoman world, interwoven with the seventeenth-century European scientific and cultural interests in the East led to these transcultural interactions.

Gül Kale (PhD from McGill University, 2014) was trained as an architect at the Istanbul Technical University and received her MA degree (ITU), with a thesis on the relationship between film, architecture, and visual memory. After obtaining a post-professional MA degree from McGill University she began her doctoral studies. Her dissertation Unfolding Ottoman Architecture in Writing: Theory, Poetics, and Ethics in Cafer Efendi’s ‘Book on Architecture’ examined the intersections between architectural, artistic, and scientific concepts and practices.

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