Turkey: the Seljuks, Ottomans, and the introduction to the Safavid Empire in Iran


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This week’s videos are historical documentaries that move us forward in time and east in space, to the part of the world that is now Turkey, with a brief look at the Seljuks, but primarily focusing on the Ottoman Empire. It introduces the relationship/rivalry with with Safavid Empire which is what we call Iran today. (We’ll move forward to include more Iran next week.) This documentary is about the history of this region, but it uses art and architecture as the primary visuals to show us the history. As always, art records and illustrates information, history, texture, and intimate details of the societies that produced that art!

Iran and Turkey are closely related culturally, and share much in terms of the influences on the arts and culture, even though there is a Sunni/Shia split between Turkey and Iran. You will see the in the art many of the similarities, such as the common delicate, linear, floral elements in the decorative arabesque patterns, and various Eastern (Central Asian, Mongol, Chinese) influences. You can see these common regional characteristics and contrast these with the less delicate, “rougher” but more abstract (and to me much more intellectually interesting) patterns of North Africa that of Berber, Maghribi, Arab, and Tuareg influence patterns and shapes that “read” in a highly complex way, reversing freely which parts we are to focus on (“complex figure-ground relationships”).

For this assignment you are welcome to do any of the following:

1. Comment on any aspect of the films that interest you.

2. Now that we are moving forward in time and east in space, you may compare and/or contrast the art and architecture from this region, or the ideas behind it, to art of the areas we’ve already examined (Spain, North Africa, and the Levant). As always, posting photos is very welcomed!

3. You may post photos of the art and architecture from the region based on your own experience or interest and tell us about what you’re posting.

4. You are welcome to put the ideas, art, or architecture covered in these films into context in relationship to any personal, historical, or cultural perspective that you deem relevant to discuss!

Your posts have been consistently excellent. I look forward to reading your posts!


: )

Seljuk and Ottoman Architecture https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NmNJyqvr5ZQ&feature=youtu.be

This 16 minute video documentary is mostly about caravanserai, madrasas, and mosques in the area we would now call Turkey. It is highly instructive, and includes a great deal of excellent footage of beautiful Seljuk caravanserai or Sultan Hans, which is what caravanserai are called in this geographic area. Seljuk and Ottoman architecture, in the same area which we now call Turkey, used different architectural styles, with the Seljuk using traditionally Arabian and Persian styles with a fortified house of stone and protected courtyard, while Ottoman architecture used stucco and wood without the courtyard except for the wealthy, and these differences reflect the different influences that people brought with them from different cultures and regions, with the Ottomans showing influences of their Western borders as well as the steppes of Central Asia, and the Seljuk from Arab Islamic and Persian populations. This video also includes excellent examples of madrasas and mosques, with Seljuk architectural styles and blends of Ottoman, Seljuk, and Persian styles, including the four-iwan mosque plan. This video also includes the Suleymanie Mosque.

Islam: Empire of Faith, Part Three, The Ottomans – PBS Documentary https://archive.org/details/IslamEmpireOfFaithCompletePart12And3-PBSDocumentary/Islam+Empire+of+Faith+-+The+Ottoman+-+Part+3.mp4

This 54 minute PBS video chronicles the history, art and architecture of the Ottoman Empire, during its expansion, discussing the developments surrounding the sultans Osman Bey, Mehmed, and Suleyman the Magnificent. It gives us a window into the forces at play in the 1500’s, and includes footage of beautiful art (which it uses to narrate some of the storylines in the film,) and includes excellent footage of the architecture of Constantinople/Istanbul Turkey. This is not a film specifically about art and architecture, but in order to understand the art, and the cultural priorities that led to the monumental Central Dome mosque style and Kulliye (giant complexes of buildings that operated as a single institution housing pretty much every civic need), an in-depth look at the culture and history are essential and this film provides that. It has what to me are unwelcome dramatizations (I prefer more academic presentations!), however it does show us a great deal of footage of art and architecture. (Next week we’ll watch films that focus just on the art and architecture.) This PBS film is also available on YouTube.

OPTIONAL: Hagia Sophia: Jewel of the Byzantines https://youtu.be/aOExHX45jLQ

This eight minute documentary provides a history of the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul, Turkey (city of Constantinople at the time this structure was built). This video includes great footage and graphics! The graphics include the transformation of the building from the church to the mosque. This video is primarily about the history of this structure as a Byzantine Christian church for a millennia before it became a mosque for about 500 years, but because this structure was instrumental in the development of the Central Dome style mosque, and was the inspiration for so many Ottoman structures, it is highly informative about the roots of this style of Islamic architecture. (A “prequel” to the videos above!)


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