L. A. Mayer's Islamic Architects and their Works, a provisional list of individuals associated with the erection of Muslim buildings, has justly become a standard handbook of Muslim architectural practice. However, this varied as much as in the West, from Byzantium through the Middle Ages to the Renaissance. There are differences of basic vocabulary: the ustādh (master builder or master craftsman) of Seljuk Anatolia is unknown in the Maghrib; differences of status, suggested by the frequency of “signatures” in Seljuk Anatolia and their rarity in Mamlūk Syria and Egypt; or even differences of organization, particularly the Ottoman khāṣṣa mi‘mārlari, a corps of architect-engineers whose rôle in the 16th century has been briefly described by Şerafettin Turan but whose existence in Seljuk Anatolia is highly dubious. The present article is an attempt to use the Seljuk foundation inscriptions of Anatolia, which have not hitherto been exploited as a source, to illuminate Seljuk practice, despite the obvious difficulty of generalizing from the very inadequate evidence.
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