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‘The old village mosque at Boğaziçi, in Baklan, east of Denizli was repaired and repainted in 1876, but much of the painting of the upper structure of the building, where the flowers are more recognisable, has survived from the 18th century,’ writes Serpil Bağcı in Simply Sufi (Cornucopia 48). An inscription above one of the columns, dates this ‘kalemişı’ painting on wood (from the word ‘kalem’, meaning brush) to 1774–75. The mosque is one of the half dozen surviving village mosques in the province of Denizli described by Kadir Pektaş in Yapı Kredi’s book ‘Denizli: Tanrılarıın Kutsadığı Vadi’.
Decoration of Monumental Ottoman mosques is traditionally distinguished by amazing but sparing interior tilework that underscores the structural qualities of the architecture (tiles may include Koranic inscriptions or flower and tree designs that echo the gardens outside), or by paintings on plaster in the upper parts of the interior.
Paintings in secular architecture incorporate much richer visual content. Surviving private houses and palaces mostly date from the late 18th and 19th centuries, but paintings of interiors in manuscripts attest to the continuous presense of wall paintings from at least the 15th century. The aesthetics of mosques and palaces built by the imperial family or members of the ruling class spread to the farthest reaches of the Empire.
Modest mosques and houses surviving from the 18th and 19th centuries were adorned with landscapes that included imaginary buildings, views of cities (mostly Istanbul) and still lifes… Simple on the outside, some wooden village mosques had an added portico reminiscent of galleries opening onto the courtyards of private houses in the region. Inside, pillared halls and colourful painting on the wooden structure and on the walls make for a warm, joyful space.
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