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Islamic Architecture
 
Source for 'Ottoman Baroque,' 'Tulip Age'
As the subject says, I was wondering if anyone could direct me to a good source presenting 'Ottoman Baroque' architecture and other such influence of 'Western Visual Civilization' on Islamic art of the 17th and 18th century.

Similarly, a good source on Ottoman influences in Europe, such as Holland's tulipomania, would be greatly appreciated, especially one with good photos.

Incidentally, if anyone could point me to a study of the first diplomatic exchanges and the political history between Austrio-Hungary (Hapsburgs) and the Ottoman Empire, that would be much appreciated.

Any thoughts, questions or comments on the above-mentioned topics are welcome.
Zena Takieddine
Responses
 
Source for 'Ottoman Baroque,' 'Tulip Age'
Hmmm. No responses? Nobody biting? The ambassadorial role of tulip exchange between east and west doesn't trigger any curiosity?

I think it can also be linked to Iznik pottery, renowned for its plentiful floral motifs, especially tulips, and the parallel development of pottery in Europe...

Just adding another thought :)
Zena Takieddine
Source for 'Ottoman Baroque,' 'Tulip Age'
Dear Zena,

Do you read Turkish? If so, you may be interested in the following books on the "Ottoman baroque":

Kuban, Dogan. 1954. Türk barok mimarisi hakkinda bir deneme. Istanbul: Pulhan Matbaasi.

Bakir, Betül. 2003. Mimaride Rönesans ve Barok: Osmanlı baskenti Istanbul'da etkileri. Ankara: Nobel.

To the best of my knowledge, the so-called 'Ottoman baroque' actually developed after the Tulip Period or Lale Devri (1718-1730), which spanned the second half of Ahmed III's rule (1703-30). Nuruosmaniye Complex was built in 1749-1755, Laleli Complex (the word 'lale' in its name refers to a local saint and not to the Tulip period) was built 1760-63 and Nusretiye Mosque with its high baroque elements was built much later in 1823-6. I should say that I am not a scholar in this field, but with my limited knowledge, it seems like the the Tulip Period merely opened up the westernization process which brought in the European fashions in architecture to the Ottoman capital, beginning with the baroque, followed by the austere neo-classical, empire style, art-nouveau, etc.

I also am not convinced of the connection between the tulip motifs in classical Iznik tiles and the Tulip Period, as the height of tile production in Iznik did not extend beyond the sixteenth century.

Ozgur Basak Alkan
Source for 'Ottoman Baroque,' 'Tulip Age'
Dear Ozgur,

Thanks for your feedback. I agree, the Iznik link was pretty much a shot in the dark. Unfortunately, I do not read Turkish, but I will look up the books for their pictorial value at least.

It's interesting that you mention the Tulip Age as 'opening up the door' for western influences on Ottoman and Islamic architecture. Isn't it possible to view it as a two-way road, or has European domination already gained way by this point in history? The tulips went from East to West before the Baroque, Rococco, and Neoclassical [styles] came back the other way.

I tend to think that the scale begins to tip towards the 'West' pretty much when European colonies accidentally came across a whole new continent full of green and gold. So this 16th century ballpark starting point.

Up to that point, the players on the globe were pretty much in balance, and the ideas flowed in all kinds of directions.
Zena Takieddine
Source for 'Ottoman Baroque,' 'Tulip Age'
Dear Zena,

The Kuban book is more of a thinkpiece and not illustrated in color, but the new one by Bakir appears to have some color images (I haven't seen it, I just came across it in a catalogue).

As an architect, I see fashion in architecture as being linked directly to power. Having said that, I would agree that an exchange occurred as you have suggested, but it was not of equals. Whereas the Ottoman empire, with its declining economy and military power, borrowed heavily from the imagery of power in the lands of its rival empires, the latter appear only to have borrowed in ways that show that the other is less powerful and is under their dominion. Art and architecture from the colonies and other lands that are viewed as to-be-colonies was reduced to decoration, demonstrated as a freak show of sorts at times. At the same time that Abdulmecid I was building the Dolmabahce Palace, painters such as Jean-Leon Gerome in Paris were painting harem-themed paintings with reclining odalisques, posing in interiors quite unlike the 'modern' ones seen in the Dolmabahce.

Ottoman influence on Italian Renaissance

What do you think?

Ozgur Basak Alkan
Source for 'Ottoman Baroque,' 'Tulip Age'
Dear Zena,

Just received an invitation for an exibihition here in Paris from the 24 March till 31 May 2006 - La periode Tulipe dans l'Art Ottoman, the Tulip Period in Ottoman Art.

I presume it will be oriented towards the textile; will let you know how it is.

Regards, M
Maria De Morais
Source for 'Ottoman Baroque,' 'Tulip Age'
Dear Maria,

Yes, do let us know how it goes! There is also a similar conference taking place in London at the end of April. I doubt I will be able to make it to either.

Dear Ozgur,

I have shared with an architect friend of mine the same sentiment: that architecture is all about flexing muscle. Visual political supremacy. He did not like the idea and told me that most architects would be insulted. While I like his alternative vision, that architecture is about making space functional, harmonious, interactive, livable, useful, that it should be used to build community feelings and positive energy, I am not sure how that works.

I was in Cairo last week, walking around the Garden City area (all colonial buildings and embassies) when another friend of mine was completely overjoyed to see all the decorative baroque stone-carving and excessive ornamentation around window lintels, etc. Why? Why all that effort to make three-dimensional flower-garlands of stone to decorate a window? How pompous! But she gave me another equally heartfelt reply: Things cannot only be functional! They have to be beautiful and uplifting too! Otherwise you lose your spirit and become a mere machine.

Anyway, this has gone off topic. Regarding Islamic and European artistic interaction in pre-colonial times, I guess this dialogue of power is indeed more equal, but it is still more power than function, yes?
Zena Takieddine
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