Brick Muqarnas on Rūm Saljuq buildings - The introduction of an Iranian decorative technique into the architecture of Anatolia
Although the majority of architectural muqarnas compositions constructed during the Rūm Saljuq period in Anatolia are in stone, there is a small and poorly understood corpus of brick muqarnas to be found in central and eastern Anatolia. This paper focuses on the earliest examples, dating from the last quarter of the sixth/ twelfth century to the end of the first quarter of the seventh/ thirteenth century. The aim is to document the surviving examples as well as trace their connection to each other and their Iranian antecedents. The corpus of brick muqarnas is spread across an array of structural types, including minarets, tombs, a palace and a hospital. The use of brick muqarnas can be seen on both brick and predominantly stone structures; in many cases the muqarnas cells are accented with glazed tile. By examining the style and decoration of the muqarnas compositions in relation to the broader decorative context of the structures of which they form part, a clearer picture of the probable origins of the craftsmen who made them emerges. The brick muqarnas are a form of architectural decoration that was not generally adopted in later Rūm Saljuq, Beylik or Ottoman architecture yet can be found on a number of prestigious, imperial structures from the early period of Islamic architecture in Anatolia.
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