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Arising from the need to shelter, architecture has been shaped and diversified with the different geographical conditions of respective regions. Correspondingly, Anatolian wood engraving developed a character of its own in the Seljuk period. Some of the wood art examples from the Seljuk period have survived until our day. These products are Mihrab (altar), rahle, minbar and architecturally-oriented ceiling beams, columns, column headings, windows and door wings.

After the countless wars and raids experienced by Anatolia in the Middle Ages, only a limited number of artworks have survived to our day due to the flammability and easily destroyable nature of the wood material. 

The artworks that survived to this day indicate the great material know-how of Seljuk wood artists that select the most suitable material to work on depending on the designated techniques handle all types of timber with great mastery. The materials most frequently used by Seljuk artists are walnut, apple, pear, cedar, ebony and rose woods (1).

Developing in Anatolia with the Seljuks and presenting its most exquisite examples, wood art has become a unique, aesthetic and artistic creative area with great workmanship and advanced decoration techniques. In fact, the diversity in techniques has arisen from the combined application of engraving, wood crossing and painting (2).

The best example is the mimbar of Ankara Alaaddin Mosque dated 1178 with the combined use of numerous wood art techniques.
minbars of  Konya Alaaddin Mosque dated 1155 and Aksaray Ulu Mosque are the most important examples of the period (3).

In the XIII Century, wood arts reached its most mature period in terms of both quality and quantity. Certain woodwork techniques were divided into subgroups. The first example of this period is the minbar of Divriği Ulu Mosque dated 1228 created by İbrahimoğlu Ahmed from Tbilisi with wood-crossing and embossed kündekari technique from walnut wood (4).
Birgi Ulu Mosque minbar dated 1370 is the best example of the original kündekari technique.

When the other wooden artworks of Seljuk periods are considered, all artefacts created in this period are dominated by a decorative sense regarded as the ‘early period’ trimmings. This was a period where the techniques brought by Turks to Anatolia were experienced along with the richness of local techniques.

The XIV Century is a transition period between the artistic genre of the Seljuks and the emergence of Ottoman art. Wooden artworks of the Seljuk and Beyliks Period are mostly Mihrab architectural elements with outstanding workmanship such as mosque doors and cupboard doors. In the Ottoman period, the artworks became simplified and were applied to objects of daily use such as end tables, turban stand (kavukluk), writing sets, drawers, spoons, thrones, boats, rahle and Quran containers and such architectural works as windows, cupboard doors, joists, dressers, ceilings Mihrab, minbar and sarcophagi (5).


geometric shapes  was observed to be used extensively during the time between the XI Century and the XIV Century and traces of the works of Seljuk art are seen also in the Beyliks and Ottoman Periods.

The floral patterns first used in early XV Century were used both in rumi  compositions and separately. In Mother-of-Pearl and Ivory Inlay works, geometric shapes  was preferred due to its technical features.

In the Classic Ottoman Period in the XV and XVI Centuries, in engraving and mother-of-pearl inlay workmanship, four-leaf clovers and rumi patterns were depicted along with decorations. In ivory inlays, writings were added to rumi patterns. In the floral patterns, symmetric clovers, roses, tulips and hatayi motifs are used with large branches in between.

The çintemani motif first used in the XVI Century is also seen in the workmanship of mother-of-pearl inlays in the XVII Century. In this period, the rumi patterns did not form palm tree leaves and were used within borders and frames.

In the XVIII Century, abstract geometric motifs were discontinued and instead, the floral patterns were used within and together with geometric elements. Rumi patterns gained more volume, while some sections were rendered finer and more plasticized.

In the XIX Century, in line with the period features, oyster shell patterns were applied abundantly to fountain mirrors, palace doors, window pediments, as well as engraved rahle and furniture.

Materials used in wood workmanship are mostly walnut, apple, pear, cedar, ebony and rose woods. Wooden objects processed with such techniques as inlay, painting, emboss-engraving, caging, coating, etching are still used today. The use of walking sticks and staffs with added value with their techniques and raw material have been widespread for hundreds of years and enjoyed even more popularity in the 19th Century.




Source; Seyfi Başkan, Anadolu Selçuklu Devri Türk Ahşap Sanatı, BBB Dergisi,Y.10,S43

(1) N.Diyarbekirli, İslamiyetten Önce Türk Sanatı, Başlangıcından Bugüne Türk Sanatı,T.İş Bankası 342, İstanbul 1983 
     S.Ögel, Ortaçağ Çevresinde Anadolu Selçuklu Sanatı, T.T.K yayını 19.seri,Ankara 1972
     Gönül Öney, Anadolu Selçuklu Mimarisinde Süsleme ve El Sanatları, İş Bankası Kültür Yayını:185,Ankara 1978
     S.Mülayim, Anadolu Türk Mimarisinde Geometrik Süslemeler (Selçuklu Çağı), Kültür Bakanlığı:503, Ankara 1982
     Erdem Yücel, Selçuklu Ağaç İşçiliği, Sanat Dünyamız, İstanbul 1975
     Erdem Yücel, Türk Mimarisinde Ağaç İşleri, Arkitekt, İstanbul 1966

(2) Gönül Öney, Anadolu Selçuklu ve Beylikler Devri Ahşap Teknikleri, Sanat Tarihi Yıllığı III,1969
      B.Ögel, Selçuklu Devri Anadolu Ağaç İşçiliği Hakkında Notlar, Yıllık Araştırmalar Dergisi I,1956
      S.Ögel, Anadolu Ağaç Oymacılığında Mail Kesim, sanat Tarihi Yıllığı I,1964    

(3) Gönül Öney,Ankara’da Türk Devri Yapıları, D.T.C.F.yayınları 209, Ankara 1971
     Orhan Aslanapa, Minber, İslam Ansiklopedisi,C.VIII     
     E.Yücel, Selçuklu Ağaç İşçiliği,Sanat Dünyamız, S.4, İstanbul 1975

(4) M.Z.Oral, Anadolu’da Sanat Değeri Olan Ahşap Minberler,Kitabeleri ve Tarihçeleri, Vakıflar Dergisi V,1962
     Y.Önge-İ.Ateş-S.Bayram, Divriği Ulu Camisi ve Darüşşifası, Vakıflar Gn.Md.lüğü,Ankara1978

(5) For more information on another works of art, see     H.Karamağaralı, Çorum Ulucamisindeki Minber, Türk Sanat Tarihi Yıllığı, İstanbul 1965
      H.Karamağaralı, Mevlana'nın Türbesi, Türk Etnografya Dergisi, İstanbul 1966
     M.Batur, Beyşehir'de Eşrefoğulları'na ait Ağaç Oyma Pencere Kapakları Hakkında, Arkitekt, İstanbul 1949
     E.Yücel, Ahi Elvan Camisi Pencere Kapakları, Türk Sanat Tarihi Yıllığı, İstanbul 1977
     M.Önder, Mevlana ve Türbesi, İstanbul 1957

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