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Architecture and Material Politics in the Fifteenth-century Ottoman Empire

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This talk explores the emergence of Ottoman architecture in the fifteenth century and its connection with concepts of architectural design and planning. Analyzing how transregional exchange shaped building practices, it examines how workers from Anatolia, the Mediterranean, the Balkans, and Iran and Central Asia participated in key construction projects. Drawn, scalable models on paper, which served as templates for architectural decorations and supplemented collaborations that involved the mobility of workers play a central role in these developments Eventually, the creation of centralized workshops led to the emergence of a clearly defined imperial Ottoman style by 1500, when the flexibility and experimentation of the preceding century was levelled.

Patricia Blessing is Assistant Professor of Islamic Art History in the Department of Art & Archaeology at Princeton University. Blessing is the author of Rebuilding Anatolia after the Mongol Conquest: Islamic Architecture in the Lands of Rūm, 1240–1330 (Ashgate, 2014) and Architecture and Material Politics in the Fifteenth-century Ottoman Empire (Cambridge University Press, 2022). Medieval Textiles across Eurasia, c. 300-1400 CE, co-authored in Eiren L. Shea, and Elizabeth Dospel Williams is forthcoming in the Cambridge Elements series on the Global Middle Ages in May. Currently, she is working on a new book that explores the relationship between interior spaces and the environment, with a focus on water, as an eco-art history of Islamic architecture. Blessing’s work has been supported by the British Academy, the Samuel H. Kress Foundation, the International Center of Medieval Art, the Society of Architectural Historians, the Barakat Trust, the Gerda Henkel Foundation, and ANAMED Research Center for Anatolian Cultures.

Image: Muradiye Mosque, 1435-36, Edirne, Turkey. Photograph: Patricia Blessing

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