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Current time:0:00Total duration:9:18

Video transcript

so we're standing inside of the Rustom pasha mosque here in istanbul and it's really different than so many of the mosques that we've looked at because the inside is covered with beautiful ceramic tile which is also on the exterior of the building it's kind of extraordinary because it's also built by seen on the great Ottoman architect but it has a totally different aesthetic and interior feel because there are tiles covering most of the lower part of the mosque as well as the squinches that the dome is resting on now it's called the rustem pasha mosque after its patron Rustem Pasha so we could wonder whether it was rust and Pasha who asked Zenon to cover the interior and much of the exterior with tile or whether it was seen on himself who wanted to do that there are a lot of things that we don't fully understand about this mosque so there's a speculation whether it was built by Rustem Pasha or by his wife who was one of Suleiman the Magnificent's daughters we should say that Suleiman is the Sultan at this point of the Ottoman Empire and Rustem Pasha is basically his prime minister his Grand Vizier exactly in Rushton pasa was not a popular character first of all he had been in Janissary he was born in Bosnia seems to have been Croatian moved up in the ranks but he was a very good person for Suleiman the Magnificent to have because he created a very effective tax policy which meant that the Empire was solvent but generally if you're good at taxing people people don't like you he also seems to have been involved in political intrigue and was exiled for a couple of years so he was not only a very successful politician but also amassed a considerable amount of wealth and commissioned this mosque along with an endowment to continue its existence and the way that that happens is by the shops that are underneath it's really an interesting mosque you have a totally different way of coming in here normally there's a court in front of many of the other imperial mosques but instead of this one you walk up a winding staircase and come out to the double portico which is very atypical so it's a totally different effect and feeling for getting here as opposed to the mosques that scene on had built for Suleiman and for his wives and other family members so the shops below help to support the existence of the mosque almost all mosques had some type of endowment and a lot the imperial cases the mosques might have been funded by taxes so having enough money to make sure your mosque was maintained was a really important consideration so let's talk about the plan because in some ways it looks very familiar and in some ways it looks very unfamiliar I mean we have a centrally planned space an octagon and we can think of lots of buildings including Byzantine buildings that are based on the Octagon yeah like Sergius and Bacchus for example right here in Istanbul on top of that octagon a lovely dome with a ringlet of light that might remind us of Hagia Sophia here in assemble we could say that the architect is using squinches to move from the octagon shape of the space to the circular form of the dome itself and squinches are really important in Islamic architecture because they are used to transition from octagonal bases up to domes it's a quintessential feature and a lot of times in these squinches you have Makar Nestle's stalactite types of designs that help create an interesting zone of transition which we see here in actually many places the space feels very lateral to me there's a lot of room for prayer facing the mihrab facing the direction of Mecca when you look at the planet looks a lot like a lot of the other plans that we've seen it looks kind of square maybe slightly rectangular but when you're looking up at the dome you start to realize that in fact the semi domes are not where they are in a lot of other places they're not on the cardinal points they're in the corners and so you don't get a sense of an extension of the space longitudinally as much as you do with wise exactly so it ends up having again a very different type of feel so let's talk about the tiles these tiles are really special they're from a place that is probably most strongly associated with tiles in Turkey in the Ottoman Empire and that's is Nick it's not actually very far from Istanbul it's about 50 miles southeast of here and it was on major trade routes so it was always an important center for ceramic production but something seems to happen in around 1480 1490 it seems like that must have to do with the patronage of the ottoman Court yeah there seems to be a lot of evidence that they're starting to want more ceramics there was a huge ceramic tradition in Iran and Central Asia and we know that when the early Ottomans were expanding and for example Salem the first Suleiman's father won a big battle it debris one of the things he brought back with him were master craftsmen that he needed to help build his empire and build the physical manifestations of it so we think about this as a cultural Renaissance across all of the arts here we are looking at the tiles but the patterns that we see here appear in manuscript illumination in metal where there's a lot of conversation between different media's when we look around the space what we notice primarily is this cobalt blue which might remind us of Chinese porcelain and well it should because it seems that a lot of the original colors and ideas when is Nick ware was starting to take off seem to be influenced by Chinese ceramics so we have blues and when we look around we see turquoise and also reds and oranges and that's interesting because the changing of colors and the addition of colors helps us to understand when something was made turquoises and cobalt blues seemed to be the dominant colors up until about 1525 and then things start to get interesting and a little bit more innovative they develop techniques of creating manganese purple different types of greens and so these colors enter the repertoire but around 1550 we start to get red red is very difficult to produce technically so when red is a stirred it is incorporated everywhere and it also provides this wonderful visual contrast between the blues and the whites primarily we see floral patterns and here it's like flowers going crazy but there are certain very distinctive flowers probably the most defining one is the tulip right I see that pretty much everywhere well and the tulip becomes one of the predominant motifs there's even a later period in Ottoman aren't called the tulip period tulips weren't introduced to Europe from the Ottoman Empire but nothing looks really like a tulip these flowers are so highly stylized that sometimes it's impossible to recognize the original natural form that it was based on and something that our historians refer to a lot too it is the Shaz style it's one of those things again that's quintessentially Ottoman it's this serrated leaf and what's so interesting about it is it's not really from here it's coming from China the serrated leaves that move in and out and form these lovely our Basques you can see where the Ottoman designers have taken something that's foreign reinterpreted to create an arabesque which is one of these quintessential Islamic designs and there's an artist who seems to have been the originator of this dye shakalu and he was taken again from Tabriz and he seemed to have been the head of the court workshop for about 30 years under Suleiman and it seems that many of his designs he may have sketched them out and then sent them to his Nick where Potter's had to then execute them it because you have this well-organized administration and bureaucracy to do these things in maybe it's not so different from somebody designing a product in California and then sending it to China to be made because of the beauty of the tiles my eye moves around the space laterally and not up normally in domed spaces whether they're Byzantine or ottoman I often leave with a aching neck but here my I just spans the walls I think so - you're almost more focused on what's at eye level which in some ways is important you know you would focus on looking at the mihrab which again has these very ornate tour-de-force designs that aren't replicated anywhere else by making one major change which is adding these tiles it's a totally different effect which makes us a truly unique mosque let's go outside we're here in the portico arrest and pasha mosque and we're noticing an unusual tile on the facade and while the tile was certainly put in later but it's very interesting because it shows the Kaaba in Mecca in the center with all these buildings around it but it reminds us that the Kaaba was very often represented in ceramics but also we know that being in manuscripts as well and this tile is located on the wall that is the direction of Mecca it's a very good reminder of again orientation is the most important thing in terms of prayer and to look at the tile you actually visually have to go around the Kaaba which is if you went on pilgrimage what you would do the tile work on the outside of Rustem Pasha is just as amazing as the tiles inside and what's so interesting about this part right here aside from seeing the greens and the purples the Reds is we also see certain motifs that again reflect Chinese influence and those are the cloud Scrolls and they look like this massive thin clouds kind of running into each other and that's something that we can see in manuscripts of the same period and clearly reflecting the influence of a Chinese design we find it on other ceramics for example we find them often in the dishes and bowls let's go look at the shops that are beneath the mosque yes because that was the other thing that was fun that everything was paid for by the workers downstairs