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The Kusevi

{ the Kusevi – this can be considered part 2 of my post entitled 3D Printed Taksim Birdhouse Project. The results of online research for my street art installation, below, was the precursor for everything embodied on that project, please visit that page as well. }birdhouse-1

The more I research, the deeper the story goes. I included a photo from the 1960′s in the last post, but you can look much further back in time to see that the Ottoman’s went to great lengths to care for non-migratory birds throughout the empire. Looking at this barely-documented bit of Turk legacy, one might say we are fulfilling a very old civil obligation through this art installation. I will borrow quotes from other websites, followed by links.

 

Yeni Valide Mosque

Yeni Valide Mosque

“The Beyazit II mosque in Istanbul, built in the late 15th century, had a charter that allocated 30 pieces of gold each year to look after its birds. Even when the charter was eventually revoked in the 1920s the official then in charge of the mosque continued to feed them out of his own salary until 1947. In the great Dolmabahce Palace there’s a room that was devoted to looking after sick and injured birds…….Fazil Husnu Daglarca, the famous Turkish poet, relates how a man in Sivas used the income from two shops to look after the city’s birds, and all across turkey you come across similar endowments. In Islam there’s a tradition, at least there used to be, of endowments for everything from poor kitchens, fountains, homes for widows and alms for orphans to trousseaus for poor girls and books for libraries and colleges. Endowments providing water and grain to birds and other animals were just a part of this enlightened attitude.” quoted from The Romantic Traveler.

 

“The purpose of these charming bird houses, which the Turks continued to build up to the 19th century, is to provide refuge to birds, who range freely through the skies but are consequently lonely to the same degree……We encounter them everywhere–on mosques, madrasas, libraries, houses, inns, baths, tombs, bridges, churches, synagogues……structures that do not extend far beyond the facade. Those on the Suleymaniye Mosque, the New Mosque (Yeni Cami) and Buyukcekmece Bridge in Istanbul are examples of this kind. There are also bird houses that project out from the facade of the building, most of which were built in the 18th century. More than houses, these are highly ornamental, elegant dwellings reminiscent of palaces or pavilions…..Among the loveliest examples of these houses, which are the product of delicate workmanship, are the Yeni Valide, the Ayazma and Selimiye mosques at Uskudar, and the building in the inner courtyard of the Darphane at Topkapi Palace. Other important buildings with bird houses in Istanbul include: the Feyzullah Efendi and Seyyid Hasan Pasha Madrasas, the tomb of Mustafa III, Cukurcesme Han, and the Ahrida Synagogue in Balat.kusevi

 

Bird Houses
The outer walls of houses should be bird houses
That take wing when children laugh.
Even if it’s winter outside,
The summer sun should rise inside the walls
And happiness will also warm the birds.

a few lines translated from Mehmet Zaman Sacliolu’s poem, Bird Houses

quoted from TurkishCulture.org.

 

Laleli Mosque

Laleli Mosque

As the important sociologist Nilüfer Göle says (in Mahremin Göçü) Turks’ relationship with modernity has been about forgetting. They have been taught that everything modern and developed comes from the West and being Western means adopting Western ways while forgetting everything that is nice and good about yours to the point of sometimes even being embarrassed about your culture. Politically, Islamists and nationalists were the first to revolt against this concept of “modernization”. While this oversimplification does not justice to the Orientalist tone in it, today, with the growing confidence of the country, many practices, cultures and details forgotten in the past are grabbing renewed attention. One of these is definitely the bird houses and sparrow mansions prevalent in the Ottoman architecture……The question remains how a culture that was so humane, graceful and esthetic in creating these bird houses and mansions has so degenerated it is today only obsessed with building ugly concrete buildings and mosques. Is this all about forgetting?”

quoted from the Hurriyet Daily News and author Idil Elveris.

 

Some Additional photos can be found at Islamic-arts.org.

 

Selimiye Mosque

Selimiye Mosque

Selimiye Mosque

another from Selimiye Mosque

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ayazma Mosque, Istanbul

Ayazma Mosque, Istanbul

Gates of Ayazma Mosque

Gates of Ayazma Mosque

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kusevi

Kusevi

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gülhane Park tram stop, Istanbul

Gülhane Park tram stop, Istanbul

 

 

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