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Divriği Ulucami and Şifahane (Divriği Great Mosque and Hospital)

The present condition of the Divriği Complex after the recent restorations.

The present condition of the Divriği Complex after the recent restorations.

The western section of the mosque was rebuilt after its complete destruction in the great earthquake which occurred at the beginning of the 16th century. The plan consists of five naves running perpendicular to the qibla wall. The central nave is wider than the others. The naves are divided into five sections and are covered by a variety of vaults and domes supported by 16 columns. There is a mihrab dome, as in several other mosques of the period. The second vaulted opening following the opening in front of the mihrab is in the form of an eyvan. This is followed by a lantern and muqarnas dome and by an opening just before the entrance with a strongly ribbed vault. The openings in the central and side naves are adorned with vaults with various types of decoration. A very lively interior is thus created.

The Divriği Complex from Divriği Castle Hill.

The Divriği Complex from Divriği Castle Hill.

The Ulucami is one of the best preserved and, in its design and realisation, one of the finest buildings of the Turkish middle ages. The interior, with its 25 openings with five naves running towards the qibla and five naves running perpendicular to this is the finest example of the Anatolian interpretation of the multi-columned Arab mosque typology. The lengthwise arrangement of the Arab tradition is replaced by naves running directly towards the mihrab, a feature characteristic of Anatolian mosques of the Seljuk period. The central nave running from the entrance of the mosque to the mihrab is wider than the side naves and is also marked by a small concentration of light in the exact centre of an ornamentally ribbed maqsura and prayer space in front of the mihrab. The second opening after the entrance on the central axis is roofed by a large cross-ribbed vault. The entrance perspective culminates in a mihrab niche displaying a striking command of both creative and stone carving skills. All the openings in the mosque are roofed with very interesting ornamental vaults. The western nave and the nave beside it lost their original coverings owing to the complete destruction of the former and the partial destruction of the latter in the 16th century earthquake. The West Portal, which collapsed at the same time, was later rebuilt with a different style of ornamentation.

The second eastern nave. View from north to south.

The second eastern nave. View from north to south.

Mosque, interior. View of the mihrab wall from the central nave.

Mosque, interior. View of the mihrab wall from the central nave.

Mihrab, mihrab bay, dome with squinch and muqarnas decoration and unfinished frieze above the mihrab.

Mihrab, mihrab bay, dome with squinch and muqarnas decoration and unfinished frieze above the mihrab.

Vault over the first opening on the qibla axis after the entrance.

Vault over the first opening on the qibla axis after the entrance.

Decorated cross-vault

Decorated cross-vault

Mihrab wall, corner detail. The three-dimensional leaves protruding from the mihrab wall with such extraordinary plastic audacity remain unfinished.

Mihrab wall, corner detail. The three-dimensional leaves protruding from the mihrab wall with such extraordinary plastic audacity remain unfinished.

The Şifahane adjoining the mosque is the architecturally best planned, best designed, best constructed and best preserved example of a medieval Turkish hospital. These medieval hospitals were planned in accordance with the traditional medrese plan. Some are roofed, other are open with central courtyards. These hospitals were run on quite different lines from modern hospitals. The staff generally consisted of a head physician assisted by several students and one or two members of the staff responsible for the preparation of herbal potions. They worked like polyclinics; the patients who arrived were examined, a limited number of operations were performed and medicines were prepared. The students were given accommodation in the building. The mezzanine floor over the southern branch of the Divriği Şifahane was probably used as a dormitory for the students. The building served as both medical medrese and hospital. The hospital building had an illumination lantern like that to be found in the roofed medreses planned in accordance with the widespread medrese plan with two small eyvans and one main eyvan. The Şifahane has a roofing system consisting of ornamented vaults similar to the roofing system employed in the mosque.

Şifahane, interior. The small door to the left of the main eyvan opens into the tomb.The column, column capitals and vaults are adorned with two-dimensional, geometric decoration.

Şifahane, interior. The small door to the left of the main eyvan opens into the tomb.The column, column capitals and vaults are adorned with two-dimensional, geometric decoration.

 

Şifahane, interior. Diagonal cross vault over the main eyvan.

Şifahane, interior. Diagonal cross vault over the main eyvan.

Şifahane, interior.

Şifahane, interior.

Şifahane,diagonal cross-vault over the main eyvan. The fronton of the vault contains the inscription “Amel-i Hürremşah Hilatı” ( Work of Hürremşah from Khelat “Ahlat” )

Şifahane,diagonal cross-vault over the main eyvan. The fronton of the vault contains the inscription “Amel-i Hürremşah Hilatı” ( Work of Hürremşah from Khelat “Ahlat” )

Portal Compositions

The belief that mosque doors were “gates to paradise” was one widely held among Muslims. “Cenh”, the root of the word “cennet” (paradise), which occurs in various verses of the Koran, refers to a garden with vines and date palms shading the ground with their thick foliage and branches. In the Koran (LV1, 29, 30, 48) and the hadiths there is mention of trees the like of which are nowhere to be found anywhere in the known world. Based on the Pentateuch, the Islamic paradise is a garden full of joy and beauty.

The Şifahane Portal

Şifahane Portal The Şifahane Portal remains incomplete. The three-dimensional design of the door and the elements stressing the sculptural character of the design comprise the sections probably worked by Hürremşah himself

Şifahane Portal The Şifahane Portal remains incomplete. The three-dimensional design of the door and the elements stressing the sculptural character of the design comprise the sections probably worked by Hürremşah himself

Şifahane Portal. An unfinished band on the inner face of the portal eyvan with sun disk decoration.

Şifahane Portal. An unfinished band on the inner face of the portal eyvan with sun disk decoration.

Detail from the Şifahane Portal. The incompleteness and stylistic differences of the decoration attest to diversity of origin of the artists working at Divriği.

Detail from the Şifahane Portal. The incompleteness and stylistic differences of the decoration attest to diversity of origin of the artists working at Divriği.

The Şifahane Portal remained unfinished. The three-dimensional design and the elements stressing the sculptural character of this design form the section of the monument known to have been the work of Hürremşah. The large console with no support function adorned with muqarnas decoration over the portal formed by combining the two large richly profiled arches following one upon the other and the unfinished palmettes forming an abstract group over the door mouldings with practically linear double columns and general contours are the work of Hürremşah, while the large suspended disks and other decorative elements are the work of other craftsmen. The decorative column dividing the window above the door is an architectural motif commonly found in the art of Central Asia.

The original North Portal has lost the striking significance of the original design as well as its dynamic effect as a result of ugly additions made at various periods, all exacerbated by the deterioration of the material.

The original North Portal has lost the striking significance of the original design as well as its dynamic effect as a result of ugly additions made at various periods, all exacerbated by the deterioration of the material.

The North (Qibla) Portal

The North (Qibla) Portal of the mosque has a symbolic content arising from two different sources: one is the Koranic symbol of paradise and the other the two Trees of Life representing and, at the same time, creating this paradise. The Trees of Life on each side of the entrance niche are formed by three rows of similar elements. Each level consists of three palmettes and a sun disk. Here we find a symbolism based on Trees of Life nowhere to be found in the world and the ascension of the Turkish shaman to the nine heavens. The lotus over the arch is a universal symbol ranging from the idea of resurrection in Ancient Egypt to the divine “emanation” of Hindu

	North Portal.detail The door of the mosque is surrounded by a wreath, the most exciting and unique element of which is the great palmette composition penetrating the architectural frame like ivy.

North Portal.detail The door of the mosque is surrounded by a wreath, the most exciting and unique element of which is the great palmette composition penetrating the architectural frame like ivy.

Palmette motifs.The large three dimensional palmettes quite independent of the architectural lines make Divriği unique in Islamic art.

Palmette motifs.The large three dimensional palmettes quite independent of the architectural lines make Divriği unique in Islamic art.

Tree of life, detail. This extraordinary beautiful palmette, in the delicacy and beauty of the workmanship and the richness form in the details, is one of the finest examples of Hürremşah’s art.

Tree of life, detail. This extraordinary beautiful palmette, in the delicacy and beauty of the workmanship and the richness form in the details, is one of the finest examples of Hürremşah’s art.

    This two lobed palmette forming an element of the Tree of Life is close to Hürremşah’s style. The motifs filling these represent an improvised abstract stone carved vegetal world comprising buds, blossoms and leaves.

This two lobed palmette forming an element of the Tree of Life is close to Hürremşah’s style. The motifs filling these represent an improvised abstract stone carved vegetal world comprising buds, blossoms and leaves.

The last palmette in the tree of life composition consists of a symmetrical stylization of a lotus flower, but there is no attempt at definite symmetry in the details.

The last palmette in the tree of life composition consists of a symmetrical stylization of a lotus flower, but there is no attempt at definite symmetry in the details.

Mosque inscription. Nesih inscription of the Seljuk period coterminous with the gate: ”Turning towards God Almighty, Ahmed Şah ibn Süleyman Şah, wretched slave and needful of God’s mercy, ordered the construction of this great mosque in 1228 (626 AH). May God preserve his Sultanate forever.”

Mosque inscription. Nesih inscription of the Seljuk period coterminous with the gate: ”Turning towards God Almighty, Ahmed Şah ibn Süleyman Şah, wretched slave and needful of God’s mercy, ordered the construction of this great mosque in 1228 (626 AH). May God preserve his Sultanate forever.”

Left corner of the inscription, detail.

Left corner of the inscription, detail.

Detaif from entrance inscription.

Detaif from entrance inscription.

Palmette motifs. The unworked surfaces over the palmettes on the North Portal show that the carving remained in an unfinished state.

Palmette motifs. The unworked surfaces over the palmettes on the North Portal show that the carving remained in an unfinished state.Tree of life, detail. This quite extraordinary free, three-dimensional leaf carving is what displays Hürremşah’s sculptural identity at its finest.

 

Tree of life, detail. This quite extraordinary free, three-dimensional leaf carving is what displays Hürremşah’s sculptural identity at its finest.

Tree of life, detail. This quite extraordinary free, three-dimensional leaf carving is what displays Hürremşah’s sculptural identity at its finest.

These details of the North Portal above the main inscription on the inside of the entrance niche is the work of other master craftsmen, probably from Syria or Egypt.

These details of the North Portal above the main inscription on the inside of the entrance niche is the work of other master craftsmen, probably from Syria or Egypt.

The eastern corner and ground of the basic mosque inscription on the North Portal and the stone carved motifs surrounding it are truly amazing examples indicating the number of craftsmen employed in the construction of this monument and the wealth of motifs they produced, as well as the manner in which this rich diversity was brought together with all the skill of an expert jeweller.

The eastern corner and ground of the basic mosque inscription on the North Portal and the stone carved motifs surrounding it are truly amazing examples indicating the number of craftsmen employed in the construction of this monument and the wealth of motifs they produced, as well as the manner in which this rich diversity was brought together with all the skill of an expert jeweller.

East side of the North Portal. Tree of life, detail. This composition, which breaks through all the boundaries of the architectural frame, is one of the most remarkable creations of the Divriği craftsman.

East side of the North Portal. Tree of life, detail. This composition, which breaks through all the boundaries of the architectural frame, is one of the most remarkable creations of the Divriği craftsman.


Source: http://www.archmuseum.org/Gallery/Photo_32_2_portal-compositions.html


 

  • islamic door design
  • islamic gate
  • mosque design plan
  • DIVRIGI GREAT MOSQUE

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The virtual Museum of Architecture created on the internet by the Building and Information Centre constitutes the first step towards the creation of a real life Turkish Museum of Architecture, a project which has been on the agenda for many years but which has never come to fruition. The Museum of Architecture performs a great service in revealing the points of contact between Turkish and international architecture.

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