Wood Columns Of Anatolia: Aslanhane Mosque

Ankara Ahi Şerafettin (Aslanhane) Mosque
Ahi Şerafettin (Arslanhane) Mosque, which is beneath the Ankara Castle in Altıdag Ulus District, is considered to have been built at the beginning of the 13th century by Emir Seyfeddin Çeşnigir in I. İzzettin Keykavus period (1211- 1220),  13th century.  Also, according to the inscription on the pulpit, it had been repaired by two brothers, Ahi Hasaneddin and Hüsameddin in   1290.

Arslanhane Mosque is rectangular and measures 21.50 meters x 25 meters. The exterior of the mosque, which is quite plain in appearance, was made with rubble stone.  Among these, there are many remixes of Roman and Byzantine periods. Arslanhane Mosque has three gates on the east, west and north sides. The north gate is like a crown gate. While this door should be the main entrance of the mosque, due to the inclination of the land, it goes up to the wooden women’s mansion. There are 24 poles in each field carrying a cover coat. The marble headings on the poles are re-used. On the heads are curved wood pillows with ends, and thick quadrangular wood beams on them. The uprights, which are widened in three stages, with their curved ends, increase the ceiling of the middle stage further than the sides. It covers round trees and planks covered with 30 cm intervals on the beams extending all over the ceiling. On board, surfaces are equipped with thinly painted slats. Women’s mansion, which is in the sanctuary of the mosque, the whole of the northern part, which covers the whole up to the second pole, separates the space into the second floor.

The mihrab of Arslanhane Mosque is considered one of the most original elements of the Seljuk Period in Anatolia. This mihrab niched in Muqarnas is made with tile mosaic and plaster. The mihrab, which rises up to the ceiling level by protruding from the body walls, creates a completely large panel. In the upper middle part of the mihrab, there is a rosette made with plaster relief technique. The rosette was formed by the deep engraving technique and the light-shadow effect was successfully captured. The upper part of the mihrab, the hilly part, was constructed by a plaster relief technique and a shadow-light effect was used.

A Magnificent Beauty: The Minbar
The minbar of the mosque made of a walnut tree has a different beauty. Wood carving is considered one of the most successful examples of its period. Minbar door, crown, two side mirrors, and the balustrades are adorned with elegant carvings. The side mirrors of the minbar and minaret balcony are a successful example of kündekâri art. The side mirrors are filled with Rumi decorated embossments in the geometric web forming polygonal, star and diamond shapes. The entrance gate of the minbar is very tiny and has a sliced arch. There are two small columns in the corners of the door decorated with fish scale motifs. Adjacent to the east of the crown gate, a square pedestal made of reused material, an octagonal heel with a triangular transition and a brick-shaped thick body and a minaret having single balconies and a thin honeycomb.

Wood Columns Of  Anatolia
Turkish-Islamic culture, reflecting the finest taste, years of embroidery, such as embroidery, construction, and reconstruction of labor with wooden or wooden poles are all located in many cities and districts of Anatolia. The roots of the tradition of wooden pillars and high ceiled mosques go back to the Karahanlı period. After the Seljuk period, the tradition of wooden mosque continued during the period of principalities. It is set forth with the book that there are many masterpieces as have stayed far away from the eyes, also involving up valuable mosques that counted works apart from the best known as wooden mosques in Turkey, Beyşehir Eşrefoğlu Mosque, Sivrihisar Great Mosque, Bursa Ulu Mosque, Samsun Göğceli Mosque. One of the lesser known facts is that the United Nations has included many wooden mosques in the World Cultural Heritage. It is understood that these rare artifacts in many cities are not even known by people living in the vicinity. Sivrihisar Ulu Mosque, Trabzon Dernekpazari Kondu Mosque, Beysehir Esrafoglu Mosque, are just some of the rare works.

Sivrihisar Ulu Mosque
Ulu Cami is one of the places of worship that it is 8 years old, located in Sivrihisar district of Eskişehir published in UNESCO World Heritage Site,  among the largest wooden pillared mosques in Anatolia  and has the pillars of the Eastern Roman Empire column headings, the “masterpiece of art” called the minbar with attention.

Trabzon Dernek Pazarı Kondu Mosque
The mosque, which is 3 kilometers away from Dernekpazarı, was built on very hilly land. The mosque has 8 epigraphs, with 4 of them are on the west side of the altar and 4 at the entrance. Despite the richness of this epigraphs, the exact building date of the mosque is not clear. The woodwork in the minbar and gathering-place is considered as the best example of the wooden mosque tradition in the region.

Beyşehir Eşrefoğlu Mosque
Esrefoglu Mosque was built by Esrefoglu Suleyman Bey between 1296-1299. It is the biggest and the most magnificent Mosques of the Anatolia. It is very rich in terms of superior tree and tile workmanship. Eşrefoğlu Mosque has a rectangular plan. It is built on 48 tree pillars.

Note: The ceiling of the mosque has a magnificent look and craftsmanship. It is made of wooden embroidered cantı roof technique. Cantı technique is applied by using the wooden passing technique without the use of nails or glue. It is one of the most beautiful wooden ceilings works in Anatolia made with the cantı technique.

Kündekari Art
Kündekârî is a carpentry technique for decorative purposes. Kündekârî is a technique aiming at obtaining flat surfaces by passing small pieces of wood in geometric shapes such as octagons, pentagons, and stars only by passing them together without the help of nails and glue. Due to the change in humidity and heat, skewing and distortions in monoliths are avoided. The preferred tree species are primarily walnut, oak, boxwood, pear, ebony, and rosewood.

By: Hüseyin Tunçay / Photo : S. Bahar Alban

*This article was  published in the  January – February issue of Marmara Life. 

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