Event Date: 17 February 2015
Royal Asiatic Society
London NW1 2HD
The Royal Asiatic Society presents:
Dr Ünver Rüstem (Fari Sayeed Visting Fellow in Islamic Art , Pembroke College, University of Cambridge)
Justice, Conquest, and Victory: The Evolving Symbolism of Istanbul’s Nusretiye Mosque
In 1826, the great reformist Ottoman sultan Mahmud II inaugurated two major new institutions in his capital, Istanbul: a modern army to replace the unruly janissary corps, and an imperial mosque gracing the Bosphorus shoreline. Although begun in 1823, the mosque became firmly associated with the military reforms that occurred during its completion three years later. Not only was the opening of the mosque timed to correspond with Mahmud’s announcement of his reforms, but the building rapidly underwent a series of name changes that underscored and announced its symbolic role, culminating in the appellation Nusretiye (Victory). This talk will use hitherto unexplored documents to trace the Nusretiye Mosque’s formation as an architectural statement of Mahmud’s modernising agenda. Alongside the written evidence, attention will be given to the Nusretiye’s pronounced visual resemblance to the mosque of Mahmud’s reformist predecessor Selim III, whose thwarted efforts to overhaul the Ottoman military both anticipated and served as a foil for Mahmud’s subsequent victory.
Ünver Rüstem is a graduate of Harvard University. He is the author of a prizewinning article on the reception of illustrated manuscripts as revealed by a group of Ottoman textual inserts added to the Shahnama of Shah Tahmasp. His forthcoming publications include an article on the exportation of carved Ottoman tombstones from Istanbul to Cyprus, a contribution to a co-authored chapter on the artistic patronage of Mahmud I, and edited translations of two later Ottoman primary sources on architecture.