A Problematic Approach to Art in the Qur’an During the MamluksAbdurrahim Ayğan
This study analyzes in a problematic context the manuscript mushafs [written copies of the Qur’an] that have an independent place in Mamluk art. The mushafs that have survived from the 267-year Mamluk dynasty have such rich variety that they can be classified uniquely. In addition, rare examples are found that remain hidden in different museums and libraries around the world. This theoretical study on the Mamluk mushafs is built on two main foundations. The first of these are the factors related to the sociocultural and political environment that were effective in preparing the Mamluk mushafs. The chaotic environment and changing borders in Islamic geography with the Mongol invasion and the crusades in the middle of the 13th century were effective at shaping Mamluk art, especially their mushaf art. The slave identity of the dynasty that had stood out as a military power and the interest of the members of the dynasty in the art of mushaf enabled the art-patronage relationship of this period to take on a unique character. Another factor shaping the mushaf art in the context of the patronage relationship in the Mamluks was the existence of religious institutional structures such as madrasahs, khanqahs, and tombs and the bipolar state of art that had diversified through Cairo and Damascus. The second pillar of the study is the ornamentation and writing features found in the mushafs. A previously unknown writing style had noteworthily been attempted in the Qur’an as prepared especially for the Baibars. A new style is understood to have become evident in the art of mushaf decoration after the second half of the 14th century under the leadership of Ibrahim al-Amidi, and this style continued alongside the classical style. This theoretical study aims to contribute to research on the Mamluk mushafs in libraries and museums.
Memlûk Kur’ân Sanatına Problematik Bir YaklaşımAbdurrahim Ayğan
Bu çalışmada Memlûk sanatı içerisinde müstakil bir yeri olan el yazması mushaflar problematik düzeyde ele alınmıştır. 267 yıllık Memlûk döneminden günümüze ulaşan el yazması mushaflar farklı sınıflandırmalara tabi tutulacak ölçüde zengin bir çeşitliliğe sahiptir. Bunun yanı sıra dünyanın farklı müze ve kütüphanelerinde halen gün yüzüne çıkarılmamış nadide örnekler mevcuttur. Memlûk mushaflarıyla ilgili kuramsal nitelikteki bu çalışma iki temel üzerine kurgulanmıştır. Bunlardan ilki Memlûk mushaflarının hazırlanmasında etkili olan sosyo-kültürel ve siyasi ortamla ilgili unsurlardır. 13. yüzyılın ortalarında Moğol istilası ve haçlı seferleriyle İslam coğrafyasında yaşanan kaotik ortam ve değişen haritalar Memlûk sanatını ve özelde mushaf sanatının şekillenmesinde etkili olmuştur. Askeri bir güç olarak sivrilen hanedanın kölemen kimliği ve hanedan üyelerinin mushaf sanatına olan ilgileri bu dönemin sanat-patronaj ilişkisinin kendine has bir karaktere bürünmesini sağlamıştır. Memlûklerde mushaf sanatını patronaj ilişkisi bağlamında şekillendiren bir diğer unsur da medrese, hankâh ve türbe gibi dini-kurumsal yapıların varlığı ile Kahire ve Dımaşk üzerinden çeşitlenen sanatın iki kutuplu halidir. Çalışmanın ikinci ayağını mushafların süsleme ve yazı özellikleriyle ilgili tartışmalar oluşturmaktadır. Özellikle Sultan Baybars için hazırlanmış olan Kur’ân nüshasında daha önce bilinmeyen bir yazı tarzının denenmiş olması dikkate değerdir. Mushaf süslemesindeyse 14. yüzyılın ikinci yarısından sonra İbrahim el-Âmidî’nin öncülüğünde yeni bir stilin belirginleştiği ve bu stilin klasik tarzla birlikte devam ettiği anlaşılmaktadır. Bu kuramsal çalışmanın kütüphane ve müzelerde bulunan Memlûk mushaflarıyla ilgili yapılacak olan araştırmalara katkı sunması amaçlanmıştır
Islamic book art is an art branch that has developed around the courts since its inception. For this reason, imagining book art independent of the political history of palaces or the identity of a dynasty is impossible. Therefore, book art research requires multi-layered studies. In addition to the physical qualities of the manuscripts studied in such research, their artistic features regarding binding, illumination, and calligraphy also bear the traces of the sociocultural conditions of the period. This research focuses on the mushafs of the Mamluk period and attempts to determine the processes that had affected the production of mushafs within the framework of the social dimensions of art. In the 13th century when the Mamluks had emerged as a military power, the Islamic geography witnessed events that could be considered turning points. The first of these was the crusades that had threatened Muslim dynasties such as the Seljuks, Fatimids, and Ayyubids since the 11th century. The Mongol invasion from the east added to this threat from the west. Thus, the Islamic geography faced threats from both the west and the east in the 13th century. The Mamluks struggled with both powers and rose to a prestigious position in the Islamic world. They held cities such as Cairo, Aleppo, and Damascus and increased their political and cultural positions. In particular, the plundering of Baghdad as a result of Mongol attacks and the termination of the Abbasid caliphate had had dramatic effects on the Islamic world. The Mamluks reestablished the sacred sequence by appointing a dynasty member of the Abbasid lineage as caliph in Cairo. Similar efforts by the Mamluks to politically repair the destruction are also seen in the cultural field. The destruction of the Baghdad libraries by the Mongols caused the sultans to provide special value to writing the Qur’an. In this period, mausoleums and zawiyas called khanqahs were built in Cairo, Aleppo, and Damascus with the influence of rising mystical movements. These institutions and foundations the Mamluks are among the other factors that kept the mushaf writing alive. The sultans endowed a quality to the Qur’ans they had prepared specially for these foundations. One of the elements shaping Qur’anic art during the Mamluk dynasty was the dynasty’s slave identity. The dynastic identity was not based on any great lineage, and this caused legitimacy crises. Intense throne fights and short-term changes to the throne throughout the Mamluk history must have been a result of this. Accordingly, the sultans can be said to have supported the production of manuscripts for legitimacy, especially the writing of mushafs, because books were as valuable and influential as grandiose monuments in the Middle Ages. For this reason, the Mamluk political history, the political origins of the dynasty, and its institutional structures are the three interconnected pillars that shaped the art of mushaf. Most of the mushafs that have survived from the Mamluk period are dated after the 14th century. Why so few copies of the Qur’an have survived to the present from the first 50 years of the Mamluk dynasty is one of the questions that should be asked within the framework of this subject, and political history can help clarify this, because in the first 50 years, the Mamluks had been struggling with the crusader and Mongol invasions. The writing of mushafs is seen to have gained momentum at the beginning of the 14th century. One of the rare copies of the Qur’an that have survived from this period is the seven-volume Qur’an prepared for the Sultan Baibars and exhibited in the British Museum. This work sheds light on Mamluk mushaf art in many aspects. The style of writing is called Thuluth al-Ashar and had never been tried before; it involves ornate illuminations and enlightens one about the aesthetics of the Mamluk palace. In addition, the physical characteristics of this early work show that it had been prepared for the purpose of being donated to an institution built by order of the Sultan. One of the problems about Mamluk mushaf art is related to the development periods of illumination during the period. Decoration formats consisting of multi-pointed stars encountered in Seljuk art had frequently been applied to the zahriyah [back] pages of Mamluk mushafs. Toward the end of the 14th century, the artist Muzahhib Ibrahim Amidi the Illuminator went beyond this classical decorative format and adopted a style that focused on detailed plant forms. Two different styles are seen to have continued throughout the 15th century. As a result, the periods related to the mushaf decoration formats are not exactly clear. Research on the Qur’an is scattered among different museums and libraries around the world today and will facilitate answers to these questions.