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Geometric interlace: a study of the rise, fall, and meaning of stereotomic strapwork in the architecture of Rum Seljuq Anatolia

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JournalAnatolian Studies
DateAccepted/In press - 28 Apr 2021
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

This article examines the introduction of stereotomic ablaq marble geometric interlace into the architecture of Rum Seljuq Anatolia in the early 13th century CE. It is a study of the subsequent developments and changes to the constituent motifs in the following decades, before its eventual decline. Attention starts with the Zangid and Ayyubid origins of the technique, in the mihrabs of several madrasas in Aleppo, and moves on to examine the ways in which the pattern mutated and the style of execution shifted over time. A distinctively Anatolian architectural motif emerged throughout the course of the 13th century CE, primarily on monuments built in and around Konya. The possible meanings encoded within the geometric forms, and how they changed over time, are examined, as are the uses of dragon-like forms. Related figural secular examples in Iraq are studied, to demonstrate the overt use of the same symbols. The article concludes with an examination of the later uses of related forms, that look similar, but do not appear to be encoded with the same semiotic meanings. Ultimately it can be seen that it was the motifs rather than the techniques, first developed in Aleppo in the 12th century CE, that were more widely used in Anatolia in the 13th century CE.

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