Course title: Art and Architecture in Safavid, Mughal, and Ottoman Empires in the Early Modern Period

Course coordinator: Prof. Dr. Ekrem Čavušević

Instructor: Zeynep Oğuz Kursar, MA

ECTS credits: 3

Language: English

Semester: 2nd (summer)

Status: Elective (C2 – course for the students of the Turkish Studies Program and all students of the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, and all students of the University of Zagreb)

Form of Instruction: 30 hours of lectures

Prerequisites: Good knowledge of English language

Teaching objectives: 

This course aims to contextualize and historicize Islamic art and architecture and offer an alternative to Eurocentric narratives of art and history; highlight intersections and nuances within Islamic art and architecture in the early modern period; and introduce concepts about things and sites that will more generally inform the students’ thinking about culture, historical geography, and environment.

The role of the course within the general curriculum: The course supplements courses “Islamic Civilization” and “Cultural History of the Ottoman Empire.” 

Course contents: 

This course is a comparative overview of the artistic production and cultural practices of three Empires in the Early Modern era: namely, the Ottomans in the Mediterranean, the Safavids in Iran, and the Mughals in India. They shared a Persianate visual and architectonic culture rooted in Ilkhanid and Timurid‐Turkmen precedents and their legacies were influential in the emergence of modern nation states. In this course we will consider the context of this inter-regionality across Eurasia and how it was cultivated in each empire into a recognizable expression. In the early modern period, which is characterized by greater mobility, heightened diplomacy, and increasingly vibrant trade relations, these Islamic empires saw a new consumer culture, gift economy, monumentality in architecture, and urban scale design projects, as well as generally a more specific knowledge production concerning art and architecture. We will look at and contextualize a range of art forms, including arts of the book, ceramics, textiles, and other portable objects, but our focus will be architecture, landscape, and urban design.

Expected Outcomes:

By the end of the course the students will be able to recognize and interpret works of Safavid, Mughal, and Ottoman art and architecture; recognize and interpret early modern Islamic cities and relate them to architecture and urban life; expand their understanding of art and architectural history in a way that recognizes global connections with multiple centers; use their knowledge of the art and architecture of the three Empires to better evaluate and appreciate contemporary cultural forms in Iran, India, and the Mediterranean world

Teaching style:

The lessons will be lectures presented with the aid of electronic visual material. Required readings for each week will be specified at the beginning of the semester. Students are encouraged to participate, read the weekly assignments, and prepare questions and discussion points prior to each class. Each student is required to deliver one presentation (5-10 minutes) of their reflections an additional reading of their choosing.

Course Schedule:

Week 1: Introduction: Definition of Islamic art and architecture, introduction of basic concepts, framework and periodization, foundations and recent developments in the field, and introduction of the historical geography

Week 2: Context and introduction to Early Modern Empires and their neighbors: “City states” and the emergence of Turko-Persian Empires between 1050 and 1250; interconnectedness across the Eastern Mediterranean, the role of Crusader activity and trade

Week 3: Architecture and court in the fourteenth century: The role of courtly culture and architecture in the emergence of global empires, Mamluks and Mongols, within the world system

Week 4: Ilkhanid and Timurid arts and their Turco-Mongol and Chinese elements: Sinicizing materials, techniques, and styles in Mongol Ilkhanids idiom and their westward spread

Week 5: Persianate miniature painting and illumination in Iran and Central Asia: The role of artists, workshops, techniques, and patronage in creating a varied but shared vocabulary of arts of the book

Week 6: Architectural foundations in Early Ottoman context: Patronage, audience, and symbolism in the context of a frontier between Byzantium and the Anatolian Seljuk state

Week 7: The Tughluqs in Delhi and Deccani Sultanates in the context of spreading Persianate mode: The earlier examples of Islamic art and architecture and their inter-regional connections in India

Week 8: Mid-term examination

Week 9: Uzbeks and Mughals: The shared Timurid legacy and different expressions of monumentality in architecture and landscape design in Central Asia and India under Uzbek and Mughal patronage

Week 10: Istanbul, Isfahan, and Delhi: Urban design and imperial representations of three centers, and comparisons between courtly ceremonials and urban life in three different contexts

Week 11: Painting and cosmopolitanism: The changing styles and themes of painting and emerging networks of increasingly urban patrons

Week 12: Objects of consumption and textiles: Production and trade of consumption goods and Mediterranean connections 

Week 13: Safavid Arts in a transcultural context: The role of diplomacy in cultural exchange and artistic production

Week 14: From Empire and colony to Modernity (1): Late Mughal India and post Safavid Iran

Week 15: From Empire and colony to Modernity (2): Transformation of public space, revivalisms, connoisseurship, museum and collecting practices 

Course requirements :

The final grade is based on attendance and class participation (15%), short presentations (15%), midterm examination (30%) and final examination (40%).                                                                         

Required literature:

Hillenbrand, R. (1994). Islamic Architecture: Form, Function and Meaning. Edinburgh University Press.

Necipoğlu, G. and Flood, F. B. (eds.), (2017). A Companion to Islamic Art and Architecture. Wiley, Blackwell, Volume 2.

Additional literature:

Asher, C.B. (2000). Delhi walled: Changing boundaries. In James D. Tracy (ed.), City Walls: The Urban Enceinte in Global Perspective. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 247–281. 

Babaie, S. (2008). Isfahan and Its Palaces: Statecraft, Shi’ism and the Architecture of Conviviality in Early Modern Iran. Edinburgh: University of Edinburgh Press. 

Canby, S. R., ed. (2002). Safavid Art and Architecture. London: British Museum Press.

Cerasi, M. (2005). The urban and architectural evolution of the Istanbul Divanyolu: Urban aesthetics and ideology in Ottoman town planning. Muqarnas, 22, 189–232. 

Dale, S.F. (2010). Empires and emporia: Palace, mosque, market, and tomb in Istanbul, Isfahan, Agra, and Delhi. Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient, 53, 212–229.

Haneda, M. (1996). The character of the urbanization of Isfahan in the later Safavid Period. In C. Melville (ed.), Safavid Persia: The History and Politics of an Islamic Society. London: I.B. Tauris, pp. 369–388.

Kafadar, C. (2014). How dark is the history of the night, how black the story of coffee, how bitter the tale of love: The changing measure of leisure and pleasure in Early Modern Istanbul. In A. Öztürkmen and E. Birge Vitz (eds), Medieval and Early Modern Performance in the Eastern Mediterranean. Turnhout: Brepols.

Kafescioğlu, Ç. (2009). Constantinopolis/Istanbul: Cultural Encounter, Imperial Vision, and the Construction of the Ottoman Capital. University Park, PA: Pennsylvania State University.

Koch, E. (1991). Mughal Architecture: An Outline of Its History and Development, 1526-1858. Front Oxford University Press.

Kuran, A. (1996). A spatial study of three Ottoman capitals: Bursa, Edirne, and Istanbul. Muqarnas, 13, 114–131.

Lowry, G. (1984). Delhi in the sixteenth century. Environmental Design, 10, 7–17. 

Matthee, R. (1999). The Politics of Trade in Safavid Iran: Silk for Silver 1600–1730. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Mc Chesney, R. (1988). Four sources on Shah Abbas’s building of Isfahan. Muqarnas, 5, 103–134.

Necipoğlu, G. (1991). Architecture, Ceremonial and Power: The Topkapı Palace in the Fifteenth and Sixteenth Centuries. Cambridge: MIT Press.

Necipoğlu, G. (1993). Framing the Gaze in Ottoman, Safavid, and Mughal Palaces. Ars Orientalis, 23, 303-342.

Necipoğlu, G. (2005). The Age of Sinan: Architectural Culture in the Ottoman Empire. London: Reaktion.

Necipoğlu, G. (2008). Religious Inscriptions on the Great Mosques of the Ottoman, Safavid and Mughal Empires. Hadeeth Ad-Dar. Dar al-Athar al-Islamiyyah. Kuwait National Museum, vol. 25, 34-40.