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The village mosques of Denizli appear to be modest affairs. But inside, freely painted from mihrab to minbar, from column to cupola, they explode into colour, as the striking cover of the latest issue of Cornucopia, by Tarkan Kultu, shows. A new book about the province, with photographs by Ali Konyalı and Takran Kutlu, reveals the mosques – and their Sufi symbols – in all their splendour. The art historian Serpil Bağcı is entranced
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.
The photographs in this article, by Ali Konyalı, published courtesy of Yapı Kredi Yayınları, are from ‘Denizli: Tanrıların Kutsadığı Vadi’ (Denizli: The Valley Blessed by Gods), ed. Filiz Özdemş, available in Turkish only.
Abdülhamid I and Osman III’s private quarters in the Topkapı. Photographed by Fritz von der Schulenburg
Sagalassos, the remote site in southern Turkey where a giant statue of Emperor Hadrian was discovered five years ago, is the driving passion of Marc Waelkens. The Belgian archaeologist, whose new book is now available from Cornucopia, talks to Thomas Roueché about his pioneering work as director of excavations
The best table grapes in Istanbul are the fragrant, delicate skinned çavuş from the northern Aegean island of Bozcaada, ancient Tenedos, and the sweet sultaniye grapes from around Izmir.
Maggie Quigley-Pınar describes a book of photographs that evoke the spirit an almost-forgotten modern era: Istanbul in the 1970s
John Carswell pays tribute to his friend Honor Frost, doyenne of underwater archaeology
James Crow on Istanbul’s amazing system of aqueducts
The landmark 2012 exhibition at the Tokpapı Palace, and the sumptuous book that accompanied it.
They were stigmatised and despised, and eventually they were closed down. But what would Turkey be today without the Village Institutes, its bravest educational revolution, and the young people they empowered? Maureen Freely tells the moving story of the institutes, the subject of a new book and exhibition
The lethal mischief of Canon MacColl, by David Barchard
The Istanbul diaries of Gertrude Bell, now available online, reveal her astonishing transformation from socialite to scholar and political observer. By Robert Ousterhout
As Turkey and the Netherlands celebrate 400 years of diplomatic relations, Henk Boom highlights the twenty turbulent years that Frederik Gijsbert, Baron van Dedem spent as ambassador to Constantinople
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