Seljuk past and timurid present: Tile decoration of the Yeşil Külliye in Bursa

Patricia Blessing

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


This article focuses on the Yeşil Külliye in Bursa, Turkey, built in 1419-24. Even though it is one of the major Ottoman monuments of the early fifteenth century, the complex-a mosquezāviye, madrasa, mausoleum, bath, and kitchen-has not been viewed in the broader context of its time, when the political situation forced the Ottoman sultan to reposition his struggling empire between Anatolia, Timurid Central Asia, and the Balkans. Whereas early Ottoman architecture, from the emergence of the principality until the conquest of Constantinople in 1453, has been reevaluated in recent years, the late fourteenth and early fifteenth centuries are only gradually receiving increased scholarly attention. The Ottoman sultan Bayezid I, defeated by the Mongol conqueror Timur, was led into captivity after the battle of Ankara in 1402, and his son Mehmed Çelebi eventually emerged victorious from a civil war with his brothers. In 1413 he came to the throne as Mehmed I, ruling as sultan of the Ottoman Empire until his death in 1421. The Yeşil Külliye was a focus of Mehmed I's patronage. I argue that the elaborate tile decoration of the mosque and mausoleum created a deliberate dialogue with both the Anatolian heritage of Seljuk architecture and the broader Persianate culture of post-Mongol Iran and Central Asia. With their varied techniques, color schemes, and visual references, the tiles signal the extent to which Ottoman visual culture in the early fifteenth century mirrored the constant renegotiation of power, rule, and representation that involved the sultan, his historians, and his builders.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)225-250
Number of pages26
JournalGESTA-International Center of Medieval Art
Issue number2
StatePublished - Sep 1 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Visual Arts and Performing Arts


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