Research

Multi-, Paraline, Perspectival, and Photographic Views:
Travelling Images of the Islamic Pilgrimage and Visitation Sites

Sabiha Göloğlu

Masjid al-Ḥarām and Masjid al-Nabawī: En’ām-ı Şerif, c. 1800. Istanbul, Sakıp Sabancı Museum, 101-0183, fol. 84b–85a

In the late Ottoman Empire, Mecca, Medina, and Jerusalem as well as their sacred sites and structures (the Kaʿba, the Masjid al-Ḥarām, the Prophet Muhammad's Tomb, the Masjid al-Nabawī, the Dome of the Rock, the Masjid al-Aqṣā, and the Temple Mount) were depicted via a variety of visual modes including multi-, paraline, perspectival, and photographic views. The travelling of religious imagery across different media and geographies was accelerated by international networks and transregional contacts to which Ottoman artistic and architectural cultures made their own innovative contributions. These representational modes coexisted without hierarchy or evolutionary processes, contrary to dominant narratives of art history that overemphasize the roles of perspective and photography. This project examines four visual modes with a fresh look outside traditional frameworks by demonstrating how they were technically constructed, materially utilized, and spatially mobilized in unison. It also shows that these modes were not alternatives to one another, as they could convey spatial information in different ways and create manifold graphic qualities that could suit a particular medium and setting.

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