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Title: A look into the Evolution of the Hunkar Mahfil, from the fifteenth to the nineteenth centuries
Other Titles: Un regard sur l’évolution de Hünkar Mâhfil entre les XVe et XIXe siècles
رأي في تطوّر المحفل الملكي من القرن الخامس عشر وحتى القرن التاسع عشر
Authors: Saliba, Nada
Keywords: Evolution
Hunkar Mahfil
Fifteenth Century
Nineteenth Century
Issue Date: 2012
Publisher: University of Balamand
Part of: Chronos
Issue: 26
Start page: 85
End page: 116
When the Ottoman sultan attended service at the imperial mosque, he had his own private quarter - the hünkar mâhfil (the sultan's loge) - where he would relax and pray in seclusion. In general, an imperial mosque involved a set of signs that reinforced its imperial identity and that of its patron, one of which was the sultan's mâhfil (box or loge). (Necipoglu 2005: 20) Moreover, the style of mosques varied according to patron, location, function, decade and architect and being an integral part of the mosque, the sultan 's mâhfil echoed these variations. The hünkar mâhfil witnessed a subtle but marked transformation whether in architectural terms or the symbolic meaning it stood for. It began with the sultan's mâhfil at the back of the prayer hall facing the mihrab (niche) at the Yeşil Cami. By the sixteenth century, the evolution in architecture necessitated its shift to the sourheastern corner of the qibla wall however it remained simple and accessible from a private portal on the outside. It is in the seventeenth century that the Sultan Ahmet Cami marked a shift in the concept and magnitude of the hünkar mâhfil with a large ramp leading to a gallery (later pavilion) and then the sultan's mahfil at the back of the mosque. By the nineteenth century, the sultan required greater ceremonial pomp and thus the pavilion was moved to the front of the mosque and became incorporated with the portico. The contrast is very impressive between the hünkar mâhfils of earlier mosques and those of mosques from the later nineteenth century. This evolution, visible in the plans, architectural configuration and decorative schemes, was inspired by more than just a need to experiment with space and form. It came as a call for more display of the wealth and splendor of the sultan and the empire, which - from the seventeenth century onwards – was definitely not splendid nor wealthy. The once expanding empire began in the eighteenth century to enter a phase of stagnation and then in the nineteenth into decline before its final demise following First World War. This article attempts to shed light on this transition in style and analyzes the transformation in architecture and meaning the hünkar mâhfil underwent starting with the Yeşil Cami in Bursa down to the imperial mosques of the nineteenth century.
Open URL: Link to full text
Type: Journal Article
Appears in Collections:Chronos

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