Architecture, Ceremonial, and Power: The Topkapi Palace in the Fifteenth and Sixteenth Centuries

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Architectural History Foundation, 1991 - Architecture - 336 pages
The fifteenth and sixteenth centuries marked the height of Ottoman rule in Istanbul. During this period, the Topkapi Palace served as both royal residence and the seat of imperial administration. By solving long-standing mysteries about this once most celebrated of all Islamic palaces, Gulru Necipoglu makes a substantial contribution to the history of Ottoman architecture and institutions. Using evidence provided by the existing buildings together with largely unpublished sources - including numerous descriptions and illustrations by European visitors, a wealth of Ottoman Turkish, Arabic, and Persian histories, documents, poems, inscriptions, books, and miniature paintings - Necipoglu demonstrates the palace's role as a vast stage for the enactment of a ceremonial that emphasized the sultan's absolute power and his aloofness from the outside world. In the absence of the monumentality, axiality, and rational geometric planning principles now usually associated with imperial architecture, the author's deciphering of the palace's iconography is all the more revealing. Leading the reader in a step-by-step tour of the Topkapi complex, the author addresses fundamental concerns about the ideology of absolute sovereignty, the interplay between architecture and ritual, and the changing perceptions of a building through time. She relocates the Topkapi in its original context - not simply the circumstances of its patronage, but the complex interaction of cultural practices, ideologies, and socially constructed codes of recognition from which it is now removed. Necipoglu concludes with striking parallels between the Topkapi Palace and other palatine prototypes, such as classical and post-MongolIslamic palaces and the Byzantine Great Palace of Constantinople. In addition, the author makes a compelling case for the possible participation of the great early Renaissance architect Filarete in the design of one part of the Topkapi, and of Gentile Bellini in its decoration.

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Preface and Acknowledgements ix THREE
The Codification of Court Buildings

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About the author (1991)

Gulru Necipoglu is Aga Khan Professor of Islamic Art at Harvard University. She is the author of "The Topkapi Scroll: Geometry" and "Ornament in Islamic Architecture" and "Architecture, Ceremonial, and Power.

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