Mihrab from the Damsaköy Taşkınpaşa Mosque
Ulus, Ankara, Turkey
Ankara Ethnographic Museum
Hegira 654–842 / AD 1256–1438
Walnut; assembled from walnut panels and decorated entirely with deep carving with round surfaces, double-level carving and bevelling.
Height 350 cm, width 203 cm
The mihrab is made of walnut. The geometric and vegetal motifs and inscriptions which make up its decoration are executed with deep carving with round surfaces, double-level carving and bevelling. The mihrab exhibits outstanding craftsmanship. Its niche is framed by two wide borders. The outermost border from floor level up to 68 cm is decorated with a vegetal composition featuring palmettes and rumi (split-palmette) leaves. The second border is covered up to about 100 cm with a geometric network. Both borders continue at these respective heights with inscription bands containing verses from the Qur'an (10:255, 59:20–23, 46:31).
The mihrab's lobed niche is framed with thin borders of various widths comprised of vegetal decoration featuring palmette and rumi (split-palmette) motifs. The form of the niche hood, as well as the fact that its interior is empty, suggests that this part is a restoration. The niche interior itself, which is semi-circular in profile, is decorated with an intricate vegetal composition.
The spandrels of the mihrab niche have round medallions containing inscription bands. The frames of the medallions feature deeply carved vegetal motifs which give the impression of having been executed in openwork. The right medallion has the word 'Allah' in the centre, surrounded by a verse from the Qur'an (59:22); the left medallion has the word 'Muhammad' surrounded by part of verse 59:23.
The large rectangular panel on the upper section of the mihrab contains a geometric network made up of 12-pointed stars. The mihrab has no pediment crowning it.
Although buildings outside Anatolia and from various historical periods feature wooden mihrabs, such as the Azhar Mosque (AH 360–62 / AD 970–2) and Sayyida Nafisa Mosque (AH 532–3 / AD 1138–45) in Cairo, the Iskodar Mosque in West Turkistan (5th–6th / 11th–12th century), and the Halawiyya Madrasa in Aleppo (end of the 6th / 12th to beginning of the 7th / 13th century), the mihrab of the Damsaköy Taşkınpaşa Mosque is the only one in Anatolia made of wood. For this reason it is of special importance.
The Damsaköy Taşkınpaşa Mosque has no foundation inscription. However, the tombs found in the courtyard there have inscriptions dating to the 8th / 14th century, so it is accepted that the mosque was probably built in the mid-14th century. In addition, in the 8th / 14th century it was common for geometric and vegetal compositions to be used together with inscriptions, especially in tile-mosaic and stucco mihrabs. This decorative programme was used on the wooden mihrab of the Damsaköy Taşkınpaşa Mosque.
The wooden mihrab that once belonged to the Taşkınpaşa Mosque in Damsaköy was transferred, along with the minbar, to Ankara Ethnographic Museum on 23 October 1940.
Although the exact place of production for this mihrab is unknown, both its stylistic characteristics and the motifs used on it point to a local (Anatolian) provenance.
Bakırer, Ö., Onüç ve Ondördüncü Yüzyıllarda Anadolu Mihrapları, Ankara, 1976.
Bakırer, Ö., “Ürgüp'ün Damsa Köyü'ndeki Taşkın Paşa Camii'nin Ahşap Mihrabı”, Türk Tarih Kurumu Belleteni 139 (1971), pp.367–82.
Öney G., “Anadolu Selçuklu ve Beylikler Devri Ahşap Teknikleri”, Sanat Tarihi Yıllığı III (1969–1970), Istanbul, pp.135–71.
Sevinç Gök Gürhan "Mihrab from the Damsaköy Taşkınpaşa Mosque" in Discover Islamic Art, Museum With No Frontiers, 2017. http://www.discoverislamicart.org/database_item.php?id=object;ISL;tr;Mus01_B;13;en
Prepared by: Sevinç Gök GürhanSevinç Gök Gürhan
Sevinç Gök Gürhan was born in 1972. She graduated from the Department of Art History, Faculty of Letters, Ege University, Turkey, in 1996. She completed her Master's in 2000 at the School of Social Sciences, Ege University. In 1998 She started working as a research assistant in the same department. She specialises in ceramics and tiles and is currently preparing her Ph.D. thesis.
Translation by: Barry WoodBarry Wood
Barry Wood is Curator (Islamic Gallery Project) in the Asian Department of the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. He studied history of art at Johns Hopkins University and history of Islamic art and architecture at Harvard University, from where he obtained his Ph.D. in 2002. He has taught at Harvard, Eastern Mediterranean University, the School of Oriental and African Studies, and the Courtauld Institute of Art. He has also worked at the Harvard University Art Museums and the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore. He has published on topics ranging from Persian manuscripts to the history of exhibitions., İnci Türkoğluİnci Türkoğlu
İnci Türkoğlu has been working as a tourist guide and freelance consultant in tourism and publishing since 1993. She was born in Alaşehir, Turkey, in 1967. She graduated from the English Department of Bornova Anatolian High School in 1985 and lived in the USA for a year as an exchange student. She graduated from the Department of Electronic Engineering of the Faculty of Architecture and Engineering, Dokuz Eylül University, Izmir, and the professional tourist guide courses of the Ministry of Tourism in 1991. She worked as an engineer for a while. She graduated from the Department of Art History, Faculty of Letters, Ege University, Izmir, in 1997 with an undergraduate thesis entitled “Byzantine House Architecture in Western Anatolia”. She completed her Master's at the Byzantine Art branch of the same department in 2001 with a thesis entitled “Synagogue Architecture in Turkey from Antiquity to the Present”. She has published on art history and tourism.
Translation copyedited by: Mandi Gomez
MWNF Working Number: TR 22
Islamic Dynasties / Period
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