Unglazed Ceramics with Mountain Goat Figures of AniMuhammet Arslan, Ahmet Şen
Ani, which forms the western border of the historical Arran geography, entered a new era with the Seljuk conquest by Sultan Alparslan in 1064. This period, which constitutes the second prosperity period after the Bagratuni Dynasty; is a period in which political, commercial, social and artistic breakthroughs took place in the city. Archaeological excavations ongoing here are important in terms of revealing the rich artistic activity in the 11th and 12th centuries, which constituted the second prosperity period of Ani. The richness of the ceramic finds obtained during the excavations, on the one hand, reveals the qualified style of the period, on the other hand, offers important clues about the traces of life in the city. Some of the unglazed ceramic fragments from the ceramic finds are also important with their figural ornaments. These pieces which form the borders around the body of a large cube were produced from red and brown clay. There are human depictions along with various animal figures embroidered with cylindrical seal printing techniques on them. Most of the animal figures are mountain goat figures. It is not a coincidence that the goat, which has been famous for its courage and freedom since the first nomadic Turkish communities, finds a place for itself in Ani ceramics. These mountain goats which are usually depicted with human and plant motifs as well as other animal figures in motion and a flowing scene are considered to be a product of the Arran School in the Middle Ages. The existence of such rich ceramic fragments in Ani is important in terms of revealing the existence of a ceramic kiln representing this school in the city.
Ani’nin Dağ Keçisi Figürlü Sırsız SeramikleriMuhammet Arslan, Ahmet Şen
Tarihî Arrân coğrafyasının batı sınırını oluşturan Ani, 1064 yılında Sultan Alparslan tarafından gerçekleştirilen Selçuklu fethiyle birlikte yeni bir döneme girmiştir. Bagratunî Hanedanlığı’ndan sonraki ikinci refah dönemini oluşturan Büyük Selçuklu hâkimiyeti, kentteki siyasi, ticari, sosyal ve sanatsal atılımların gerçekleştiği bir dönem olarak karşımıza çıkmaktadır. Burada devam eden arkeolojik kazılar, Ani’nin ikinci refah dönemini oluşturan 11. ve 12. yüzyıllardaki zengin sanatsal etkinliği ortaya koyması bakımından önemlidir. Özellikle kazılarda elde edilen seramik buluntuların zenginliği, bir yandan devrin nitelikli üslubunu ortaya koyarken öte yandan kentteki yaşama dair izlerle ilgili önemli ipuçları sunmaktadır. Seramik buluntulardan sırsız seramik parçalarının bir kısmı, üzerlerindeki figürlü bezemeleriyle ayrıca önemlidir. Büyük bir küpün gövdesini dolanan bordürleri oluşturan bu parçalarda silindirik mühür baskı tekniğiyle işlenmiş çeşitli hayvan figürleriyle birlikte insan betimlemeleri de vardır. Hayvan figürlerinin çoğunluğunu ise dağ keçisi figürleri oluşturmaktadır. Konar-göçer ilk Türk topluluklarından itibaren özellikle cesareti ve özgürlüğüyle nam salmış olan keçinin Ani seramiklerinde kendine yer bulması tesadüfi değildir. Genellikle hareket hâlinde, akıcı bir sahne içinde diğer hayvan figürleri yanı sıra insan ve bitki motifleriyle resmedilen dağ keçileri, Orta Çağ’daki Arrân Okulu’nun bir ürünü olarak değerlendirilmektedir. Ani’deki bu türden zengin seramik parçalarının varlığı, kentte bu okulu temsil eden muhtemel bir seramik fırınının varlığını da düşündürmesi açısından önemlidir. Bu çalışmada söz konusu figürlü süslemeler tanıtılarak Türk sanatı bağlamında değerlendirilmiştir.
Ani, located 45 km east of Kars, on the shore of the Arpacay water that separates from each other of the Turkey-Armenia border, has been one of the ancient cities with a historical past dating back to BC. 3000 years. Ani, which forms the western border of the historical Arran geography, entered a new era with the Seljuk conquest by Sultan Alparslan in 1064. This period, which constitutes the second prosperity period after the Bagratuni Dynasty; is a period in which political, commercial, social and artistic breakthroughs took place in the city. Archaeological excavations ongoing here are important in terms of revealing the rich artistic activity in the 11th and 12th centuries, which constituted the second prosperity period of Ani.
The historical, artistic and architectural development of the city coincides with the Middle Ages. Being the center of the Bagratuni Dynasty in 961 and the Seljuk conquest in 1064 are the breaking points in the history of the city. This period, which started with the Bagratunids in the middle of the 10th century and continued until the end of the Seljuk rule in 1199, expresses the economic and social welfare period of Ani. Ani has developed economically due to its location on the Silk Road route and the crossroads between the Caucasus and Anatolia, and in parallel, it has become quite commercially rich compared to the contemporary cities around it. This situation caused receive immigration from the city and naturally increase the population. The extraordinary urban texture and monumental works of Ani, which have reached a similar richness in socio-cultural terms, undoubtedly belong to this period. The immovable and movable artefacts belonging to the archaeological excavations that have been going on for years support this argument.
The unglazed ceramics, which we encountered intensively during the Ani excavations are notable for their general form characteristics, especially with their ornaments consisting of animal figures such as mountain goat, horse, deer, lion, chicken, rooster and dog, as well as human figures. These figures on the ceramic fragments, which are understood to form the ornamented borders of a vessel, are often impressed in a way that depicts a lively scene in motion. So much so that the human figures in the compositions are often dancing; it is seen that animal figures are sometimes depicted while dancing. The scenes are flowing and are separated from each other by sometimes with a plant similar to the tree of life, sometimes a circle with the motif of the Seal of Suleiman and sometimes borders with zigzags that are placed vertically. The ornaments were embroidered with the cylindrical seal printing technique. This style is connected to the “Arran School (11-12th century)” by the researchers. This style also emerges as a characteristic style of unglazed ceramics that are frequently found in medieval excavations in Azerbaijan, Nakhchivan, the south of Georgia, the north of Iran and the North East Anatolian Region of Turkey. It is possible to see similar stylistic features in unglazed ceramics found as a result of excavations in medieval settlements such as Zhinvali and Uplistsikhe in the north of Tbilisi in Georgia; Shamkir, Ganja, Beylegan and Örenqala of Azerbaijan; Dvin, Dashtadem, Metzamor of Armenia and Rey of Iran.
The unglazed ceramics with mountain goat figures, which constitute the subject of the article, are encountered on the finds unearthed in the Seljuk Bazaar, Seljuk Residences and Seljuk Great Baths during the 2019-2021 excavations carried out by us. Mountain goats in here are depicted along with other animals and human figures. They are processed in the cylindrical seal printing technique. It is thought that these compositions belong to the ornamented borders circling the bodies of the large pots, which are thought to be food jars.
The goat is the oldest friend of mankind and one of the first domesticated animals. First of all, the goat is the definition of stubbornness. Having a stubborn character also made it a solid structure. The mountain goat appears in the art of the nomadic Central Asian Turkish communities as a hunting animal in the first place. In addition to the flavor of its meat, it has been hunted by nomadic communities with the use of milk, hair and skin. Thus, it caused it to be loved and valued enough to be processed into rock paintings.
It can very well be said that the goat is also related to the perception of power. Because in the examples with mountain goat figures that we see starting from the Huns to the Uyghurs, it is clear that this figure symbolizes the ruler. In this respect, goats are symbols of “khanate and domination”. Its inscription on the Kultigin Monument dated 732 proves this. It can be said that this symbolism is influenced by the fact that mountain goats live both in high places and in hard-to-reach areas. For this reason, it was accepted as sacred by the Turkish communities and even accepted as the messenger of God and turned into a political image by the Turkish khans. This perception is undoubtedly due to the free and courageous lives of goats.
The first examples of the mountain goat figure in the medieval world belong to the Ani excavations. Especially in the excavations of Nikolai Yakovlevich Marr (1892- 1893/1904-1917), Beyhan Karamagaralı (1989-2005) and Yasar Coruhlu (2006-2010), abundant ceramics with mountain goat figures were found. The closest examples are seen in the medieval cities of Arran geography. The finds obtained during the excavations in Zhinvali in Georgia, Shamkir in Azerbaijan and Dvin in Armenia are other finds similar to Ani samples.
An example of Anatolian Seljuk’s art should be mentioned here. The tiles with mountain goat figures belonging to the Kubâdâbâd Palace (1226-1236), which was built by the Seljuk Sultan Alâeddin Keykubat (I), are extremely important.