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Creation Of A National Genius: Sinan And The Historiography Of "Classical" Ottoman Architecture

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Chapter Summary

The insistence of canonical twentieth-century historiography on the Turkishness of "classical" Ottoman architecture, codified during Sinan's tenure as chief royal architect (1539-88), has masked its more inclusive "Rumi" visual identity. A combination of Orientalist and nationalist paradigms has hindered a fuller understanding of the ways in which the chief architect's monumental mosque complexes, the ultimate icons of the Ottoman "classical style", mediate among the Islamic, Byzantine, and Italian Renaissance architectural traditions. The ongoing preoccupation with the Turkishness of Sinan and of his style is manifested in a fictionalized biography of him written "in the manner of a historical novel" by Afet Inan, the director of the Turkish History Society, who had initially conceived the monograph project. Even though Meriç had proved the fabricated nature of documents "discovered" by Cevdet and Rifat Osman, she indiscriminately uses them to embellish the childhood portrait of the national genius as a Christian Turk.

Keywords: canonical twentieth-century historiography; classical Ottoman architecture; national genius; Rumi visual identity; Sinan; Turkishness



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