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Vakfiye and Inscriptions: An Interpretation of the Written Records of the Atik Valide Mosque Complex

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Large-scale imperial endowments symbolized the munificence and permanence of the Ottoman Empire. They not only provided religious and social services for the communities built around them, but also served as effective instruments affirming a political ideology and projecting a desired image directly from the imperial centre. A textual analysis of the endowment deed (vakfiye) and epigraphic programme of the Atik Valide Mosque Complex commissioned by Nurbanu, the Queen Mother of Sultan Murad III, reveals the ideology espoused by the state at the time. On one level, the vakfiye affirms that the shift of the Ottoman polity from an expansionary to a sedentary one was a welcome and necessary step for the perpetuation of the empire. On another level, the images of Nurbanu and her son Murad were carefully constructed to rebuff criticism from those who argued that the mismanagement, corruption and factionalism of Murad and his court were putting the very existence of the Ottoman state into jeopardy. In these documents, Nurbanu emerges as an exemplary queen mother, pious and generous in nature, committed to the well-being of her son's subjects, while Murad is hailed as the quintessential caliph, capable of both upholding the tenets of Islam and preserving the integrity of the temporal Ottoman domain. As such, the Atik Valide Mosque Complex served at once as a clarion of the positive changes the imperial dynasty had initiated and as a nexus of extensive social services provided by the Queen Mother to aid her subjects who were feeling the combined strains of inflation, food shortages, social unrest and protracted wars.
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Keywords: Atik Valide; Murad III; Nurbanu; külliye; mosque complex; vakfiye

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Ramapo College of New Jersey

Publication date: 2012-08-17

More about this publication?
  • The International Journal of Islamic Architecture (IJIA) is intended for those interested in urban design and planning, architecture, and landscape design in the historic Islamic world, encompassing the Middle East and parts of Africa and Asia, but also the more recent geographies of Islam in its global dimensions. The main emphasis is on detailed analysis of the practical, historical and theoretical aspects of architecture, with a focus on both design and its reception. The journal is also specifically interested in contemporary architecture and urban design in relation to social and cultural history, geography, politics, aesthetics, technology, and conservation. Spanning across cultures and disciplines, IJIA seeks to analyze and explain issues related to the built environment throughout the regions covered. The cross-cultural and interdisciplinary nature of this journal will significantly contribute to the knowledge in this field.

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