Topkapı Scroll

Last updated
Two adjacent patterns in the Topkapi Scroll. Kufic script in the form of a cube in the center of the left pattern. Topkapi Scroll P306.JPG
Two adjacent patterns in the Topkapı Scroll. Kufic script in the form of a cube in the center of the left pattern.

The Topkapı Scroll (Turkish : Topkapı Parşömeni) is a Timurid dynasty pattern scroll in the collection of the Topkapı Palace museum.

Contents

The scroll is a valuable source of information, consisting of 114 patterns that may have been used both indirectly and directly by architects to create the tiling patterns in many mosques around the world, including the quasicrystal Girih tilings from Darb-e Imam.

Physical properties

The Topkapı scroll is a 33 cm (13 in) wide scroll of 29.5 m (97 ft) in length, which is unrolled side to side. [1] One end of the scroll is fixed to a wooden roller, and the other end is glued to a protective leather piece. [2]

A number of parchment pieces featuring various patterns are applied on the scroll. The differences in the border of some drawings indicate that the Topkapı Scroll consists of two different scrolls fixed together. The fact that it is not worn out suggests that it was not made to be used as a reference document in a craftman's workshop, but rather than as an exhibition work in the palace. It was probably a record of tiling works carried out in the palace. [3]

The scroll was made by one person only. Most of the patterns were drawn on two pieces of parchment that were put together, and then pasted on the scroll. The placement of the patterns on the scroll is somewhat disorganized. Patterns of similar themes are fallen apart, and some patterns formed on two parchment pieces are combined imperfectly. [3]

The stamp on the scroll "H1956" indicates that it is registered in the inventory of the Topkapı Palace's Treasury department.

An edition of the scroll was published with an extensive commentary, but it is now out of print.

History

The Topkapı Scroll was presumably prepared in Iran during the Safavid dynasty in the end of the 15th century or beginning of the 16th century. A similarity between some of the patterns on the Topkapı Scroll and a tile panel in the Jame-e Kabir Mosque (grand mosque) in Yazd indicates that this scroll was created in Tabriz. On the other hand, it is possible that the scroll was made in Shiraz because it consists of mainly muqarnas in the form of a hand-held fan referred by Jamshīd al-Kāshī as Shirazi. It may have been looted by the Ottomans after the Ottoman–Safavid War (1578–90).

The muqarnas on the scroll, which are mostly in the form of a hand-held fan, reflect the architectural style of the Timurid dynasty, Turkmen people in Iran and Central Asia. In contrast, the muqarnas in Cairo are in the form of seashell.

The Topkapı Scroll was discovered in 1986. Gülru Necipoğlu of Harvard University published a book, which describes the scroll with copies of its patterns. [4] The book was translated into Persian language by Mihrdad Kayyumi Bidhind under the title Handasa va Tazyin dar Mi‘mari-yi Islami: Tomar-i Topkapı (Tahran, Kitabkhana-yi Milli-yi Iran, 1379).

Content

Quarter dome muqarnas - in the form of a seashell (top), in the form of a radial, hand-held fan (bottom) Topkapi Scroll P290.JPG
Quarter dome muqarnas - in the form of a seashell (top), in the form of a radial, hand-held fan (bottom)

The scroll consists of 114 geometric patterns drawn in ink and dye. It displays decorative ornaments found on the walls and domes of structures built between the 10th and 16th century in the Timurid dynasty. It was a guidebook for architectural designs seen in complex muqarnas, girih, mosaic panels and colorful tiles. The scroll does not mention how those patterns are constructed, and has no date or signature. [2]

The two-dimensional figures make it unclear how they can be employed to three-dimensional ornamental objects. [5] [6]

One of the characteristics of the Topkapı Scroll is that it includes Arabic calligraphy called square or geometric Kufic. This script type was seen for the first time in the state of Ilkhanate, and it was presumably created in inspiration from Chinese characters in rectangular form. [3] One of the patterns on the Topkapı Scroll, which matches an existing architectural structure, is the Kufic script drawn for banna'i, in which tiles are alternated with plain bricks to create geometric patterns over the surface of a wall. Almost exactly the same of this pattern is found on the gate of a mosque in Varzaneh. [2]

Hexagon with Kufic scripts of six time Muhammad (Muhammad ibn 'Abd Allah) and three time Ali (Ali ibn Abi Talib) in rotational symmetry Topkapi Scroll P325.JPG
Hexagon with Kufic scripts of six time Muhammad (Muḥammad ibn ʿAbd Allāh) and three time Ali (Alī ibn Abī Ṭālib) in rotational symmetry

Some of the patterns show the application of geometric principles to Islamic traditions. For example, the word Muhammad (Muḥammad ibn ʿAbd Allāh) is repeated six times along the sides of the hexagon, and the word Ali (Alī ibn Abī Ṭālib) three times in a rotating wise in the inner hexagon. [7]

One pattern on the scroll consists of nine-pointed and eleven-pointed geometric star figures, and other one thirteen-pointed and sixteen-pointed geometric star figures. In the Islamic art, this sort of stars were developed by folding certain patterns along the sides of a square. [8]

Some of the drawings on the scroll are formed by overlapped patterns of different scales. This feature is seen frequently in Islamic architecture. Detailed patterns within an ornament appear when one gets closer to a building with figures, which are difficult to perceive from the distance. [1]

Related Research Articles

Arabesque

The arabesque is a form of artistic decoration consisting of "surface decorations based on rhythmic linear patterns of scrolling and interlacing foliage, tendrils" or plain lines, often combined with other elements. Another definition is "Foliate ornament, used in the Islamic world, typically using leaves, derived from stylised half-palmettes, which were combined with spiralling stems". It usually consists of a single design which can be 'tiled' or seamlessly repeated as many times as desired. Within the very wide range of Eurasian decorative art that includes motifs matching this basic definition, the term "arabesque" is used consistently as a technical term by art historians to describe only elements of the decoration found in two phases: Islamic art from about the 9th century onwards, and European decorative art from the Renaissance onwards. Interlace and scroll decoration are terms used for most other types of similar patterns.

Tile Manufactured piece of hard-wearing material

A tile is a thin object usually square or rectangular in shape. A tile is a manufactured piece of hard-wearing material such as ceramic, stone, metal, baked clay, or even glass, generally used for covering roofs, floors, walls, or other objects such as tabletops. Alternatively, tile can sometimes refer to similar units made from lightweight materials such as perlite, wood, and mineral wool, typically used for wall and ceiling applications. In another sense, a tile is a construction tile or similar object, such as rectangular counters used in playing games. The word is derived from the French word tuile, which is, in turn, from the Latin word tegula, meaning a roof tile composed of fired clay.

Takht-e Soleymān Archaeological site in West Azarbaijan, Iran

Takht-e Soleymān, is an archaeological site in West Azarbaijan, Iran from Sasanian Empire. It lies midway between Urmia and Hamadan, very near the present-day town of Takab, and 400 km (250 mi) west of Tehran.

Hendecagram 11-pointed star polygon

In geometry, a hendecagram is a star polygon that has eleven vertices.

Masuleh City in Gilan, Iran

Masulehpronunciation  (Persian: ماسوله‎, also Romanized as Māsūleh, Masoleh and Masouleh is a village in the Sardar-e Jangal District, in Fuman County, Gilan Province, Iran. At the 2006 census, its population was 554 individuals from 180 families.

Mausoleum of Khoja Ahmed Yasawi Mausoleum in the city of Turkestan, Kazakhstan

The Mausoleum of Khawaja Ahmed Yasawi is a mausoleum in the city of Turkestan, in southern Kazakhstan. The structure was commissioned in 1389 by Timur, who ruled the area as part of the expansive Timurid Empire, to replace a smaller 12th-century mausoleum of the famous Turkic poet and Sufi mystic, Khoja Ahmed Yasawi (1093–1166). However, construction was halted with the death of Timur in 1405.

Momine Khatun Mausoleum

Momine Khatun Mausoleum is a 12th century mausoleum located in the city of Nakchivan in Azerbaijan.

Iznik pottery

Iznik pottery, or Iznik ware, named after the town of İznik in western Anatolia where it was made, is a decorated ceramic that was produced from the last quarter of the 15th century until the end of the 17th century.

The Palace School was a special school inside of the innermost court of Topkapı Palace that provided the education for the servants of the Ottoman dynasty, who went on to staff the administrative elite of the Ottoman Empire. These were converts to Islam, young males between 8 and 20 years old, who were mostly taken away from the rural Christian communities settled in Rumelia in a process known as devşirme.

Jameh Mosque of Isfahan Mosque in Iran

The Jāmeh Mosque of Isfahān or Jāme' Mosque of Isfahān, also known as the Atiq Mosque and the Friday Mosque, was the grand, congregational mosque (Jāmeh) of Isfahān city, within Isfahān Province, Iran. The mosque was the result of continual construction, reconstruction, additions and renovations on the site from around 771 to the end of the 20th century. The Grand Bazaar of Isfahan can be found towards the southwest wing of the mosque. It has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2012.

<i>Girih</i> tiles

Girihtiles are a set of five tiles that were used in the creation of Islamic geometric patterns using strapwork (girih) for decoration of buildings in Islamic architecture. They have been used since about the year 1200 and their arrangements found significant improvement starting with the Darb-i Imam shrine in Isfahan in Iran built in 1453.

<i>Girih</i>

Girih are decorative Islamic geometric patterns used in architecture and handicraft objects, consisting of angled lines that form an interlaced strapwork pattern.

Şehzade Mosque 16th century Turkish mosque

The Şehzade Mosque is a 16th-century Ottoman imperial mosque located in the district of Fatih, on the third hill of Istanbul, Turkey. It was commissioned by Suleiman the Magnificent as a memorial to his son Şehzade Mehmed who died in 1543. It is sometimes referred to as the "Prince's Mosque" in English. In a June 2016 attack, the windows of the mosque were shattered.

Tiled Kiosk Art museum in Gülhane Fatih, Istanbul

The Tiled Kiosk is a pavilion set within the outer walls of Topkapı Palace and dates from 1472 as shown on the tile inscript above the main entrance. It was built by the Ottoman sultan Mehmed II as a pleasure palace or kiosk. It is located in the most outer parts of the palace, next to Gülhane Park. It was also called Glazed Kiosk.

Yavuz Selim Mosque

The Yavuz Selim Mosque, also known as the Selim I Mosque and the Yavuz Sultan Selim Mosque is a 16th-century Ottoman imperial mosque located at the top of the 5th Hill of Istanbul, Turkey, in the neighborhood of Çukurbostan, overlooking the Golden Horn. Its size and geographic position make it a familiar landmark on the Istanbul skyline.

Great Mosque of Aleppo

The Great Mosque of Aleppo or the Banu Umayya Mosque of Aleppo is the largest and one of the oldest mosques in the city of Aleppo, Syria. It is located in al-Jalloum district of the Ancient City of Aleppo, a World Heritage Site, near the entrance to Al-Madina Souq. The mosque is purportedly home to the remains of Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist, both of whom are revered in Islam and Christianity. It was built in the beginning of the 8th century CE. However, the current building dates back to the 11th through 14th centuries. The minaret was built in 1090, and was destroyed during fighting in the Syrian civil war in April 2013.

Islamic ornament

Islamic ornament is the use of decorative patterns in Islamic art. They can be broadly divided into the arabesque, using curving plant-based elements, geometric patterns with straight lines or regular curves, and calligraphy, consisting of religious texts with stylised appearance, used both decoratively and to convey meaning. All three often involve elaborate interlacing. The three types of ornament are often used together.

Islamic geometric patterns Geometric pattern characteristic of Muslim art

Islamic geometric patterns are one of the major forms of Islamic ornament, which tends to avoid using figurative images.

Muqarnas Islamic architectural feature

Muqarnas, known in Iranian architecture as Ahoopāy and in Iberian architecture as Mocárabe, is a form of ornamented vaulting in Islamic architecture. It is the archetypal form of Islamic architecture, integral to the vernacular of Islamic buildings. The muqarnas structure originated from the squinch. Sometimes called "honeycomb vaulting" or "stalactite vaulting", the purpose of muqarnas is to create a smooth, decorative zone of transition in an otherwise bare, structural space. This structure gives the ability to distinguish between the main parts of a building, and serve as a transition from the walls of a room into a domed ceiling.

Gülru Necipoğlu

Gülru Necipoğlu is a Turkish American professor of Islamic Art/Architecture. She has been the Aga Khan Professor and Director of the Aga Khan Program for Islamic Architecture at Harvard University since 1993, where she started teaching as Assistant Professor in 1987. She received her Harvard Ph.D. in the Department of History of Art and Architecture (1986), her BA in Art History at Wesleyan, her high school degree in Robert College, Istanbul (1975). She is married to the Ottoman historian and Harvard University professor Cemal Kafadar.

References

  1. 1 2 Cromwell, P.R. (2009). "The Search for Quasi-Periodicity in Islamic 5-fold Ornament". Mathematical Intelligencer. 31 (1): 36–56. doi:10.1007/s00283-008-9018-6.
  2. 1 2 3 Gülru Necipoğlu (1992). Geometric Design in timurid/Turkmen Architectural Practice: Thoughts on a Recently Discovered Scroll and Its Late Gothic Parallels (PDF). Timurid Art and Culture - Iran and Central Asia in the Fifteenth Century (eds (Golombek, L. and Subtelny, M.). E.J. Brill.
  3. 1 2 3 Rogers, J.M. (1997). "Notes on a recent study of the Topkapı scroll: a review article". Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. 60 (3): 433–439. doi:10.1017/s0041977x0003247x. JSTOR   619536.
  4. Gülru Necipoglu: The Topkapı Scroll: geometry and ornament in Islamic architecture. Palace Museum Topkapı Library MS H. 1956. xiii, 395 pp. Santa Monica, CA: Getty Center for the History of Art and the Humanities, 1995
  5. Artisans and Mathematicians in Medieval Islam. The Topkapi Scroll: Geometry and Ornament in Islamic Architecture by Gülru Necipoğlu Review by: George Saliba (1999). Journal of the American Oriental Society, Vol. 119, No. 4, pp. 637-645
  6. van den Hoeven, Saskia, van der Veen, Maartje. "Muqarnas-Mathematics in Islamic Arts" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2013-09-27. Retrieved 2011-12-27.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  7. Hacali Necefoğlu. "Turkish Crystallografic Patterns: From Ancient to Present" (PDF). Retrieved 2011-12-30.
  8. Cromwell, P. R. (2010). "Islamic geometric designs from the Topkapı Scroll I: unusual arrangements of stars". Saudi Aramco World. 4 (2): 73–85. doi:10.1080/17513470903311669.