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Emre Village Mosque
2003 / JULY

The village mosque at Emre near the town of Kula in Manisa province is not only a delightful example of classical Ottoman architecture, but remarkable for its ornate mural decoration. The 16th century mosque has a three-arch portico and a domed main space, and is of a type frequently found in western Turkey. According to the inscription over the mosque door it was built in 1547-48 by the architect Cârullah bin Süleyman, and a second inscription explains that the murals were painted in 1808-1821. The wooden pulpit and gallery are much later additions. Inside the small domes over the portico are simple painted motifs, and on the pendentives are houses with several stories surrounded by oval frames of rococo scrolls. The curtain walls are divided into three panels in which are painted vases of flowers. The decoration inside the mosque is similar in composition to that of the portico but far more elaborate.

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Emre Village Mosque
2003 / JULY

The interior of the dome is divided by concentric rings, the broad ring nearest the centre being divided by a blue ribbon into cartouches, in each of which are painted small cityscapes of two and three storey houses amid cypress trees. The spaces between each pair of windows are divided into two by a broad band, creating sixteen panels which are alternately filled with architectural compositions and floral decoration. Beneath this is a broad band of decorative scrolls. The outermost ring consists of inscriptions inside cartouches. In one of the panels waterfront houses can be seen in the foreground, and behind them houses of several storeys. Several boats are sailing in the rough sea. At the summit of the arched panel hangs a lamp. Amidst scrolls at the top of the curtain walls are motifs of vases of flowers, below which is a border of acanthus scrolls.

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Emre Village Mosque
2003 / JULY
Below this the broad areas on either side of the window are divided into three panels, in each of which are compositions consisting of different flowers. The pictures on one of the curtain walls are particularly interesting. On both sides of the upper window are quite different compositions set amidst rococo style bouquets in vases. In one of the panels on the right is a geometric pattern that gives the impression of a stained-glass window divided into hexagonal segments. Below this is a natural scene of various trees, houses and a windmill set in a green landscape. We can identify some of these trees. For example on the left is a large date palm, and there are several cypresses and trees bearing red fruit. The artist has given a sense of perspective by painting the cypresses in the distance on a smaller scale, although the cypresses are taller than the three and four-storey buildings.
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Emre Village Mosque
2003 / JULY

On another of the walls drapery divides one of the vases of flowers from all the others. Some of the panels seem more appropriate for a dining room than for a mosque, with dishes of fruit such as pomegranates, pears, and apples next to the vases. In one of the panels is a watermelon with a knife thrust into the cut slice. In a small triangular area at the corner of one curtain wall is a composition in direct contrast, depicting a cemetery shaded by cypresses and the stone pines that are so common in this region. Undoubtedly the most interesting of all the pictures in this mosque are the architectural compositions on the pendentives. In the upper corners of these are small floral bouquets, and at the lower extremity rococo scrolls. The large area between these contain pictures of buildings. In one we see a mosque by the sea, its steps leading down to the shore.

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Emre Village Mosque
2003 / JULY

The mosquegg architecture is depicted in detail: On either side of the large central dome over the main space are two smaller domes. The portico has five arches and the courtyard is surrounded by colonnades. In every respect this picture represents is typical classical period mosque. On another pendentive are portrayed waterfront houses with three storeys, and in the background is another row of houses with three storeys. Finding a mosque so ornately decorated in a tiny Turkish village might seem strange at first sight, but particularly in western Turkey such figurative painted decoration is often found both on mosques and houses. This little known architectural jewel in the village of Emre is well worth visiting next time you are in this region of Turkey.

* Professor Dr Yildiz Demiriz is an art historian.

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