Compositional peculiarities of Muslim religious buildings of Shoushi town
Memorials are also different: here we speak about small ziarets, which are also situated in the house-adjoining areas as well as can be separately standing buildings or can exist in the structure of other complexes. The latter is, in fact, not for praying, but rather for visits (*6). Gdami, contrary to Mesdgid, has a minbar (pulpit of a mosque) or pedestal for preaching. In many cases it is called Friday Mosques. Usually, these mosques are situated in regional squares and are bigger than Mesdgid by their size. Itikah is the mosque for big festive meetings in the center of the town, which is usually called Oulou Dgami. Itikah has a big area for praying, it is possible to have a number of mehrabs here. There are also monastery complexes of mosques near and within the towns, where the clergymen are being educated. In fact, it has the same function as the Great Madrasah. Madrasahs also have small and medium variants, which are seen in the yard and dome constructions. They are different in construction from Persian, Osmanian, the Far Eastern, Middle Asian and Arab territories.
In fact, the above-mentioned buildings of Muslim architecture are made more prominent by territorial schools of Muslim culture, each of which originates from the ancient wealth (*7) of world culture. The following can be mentioned: Middle Eastern or Syrian school, Egyptian school, Mesopotamian and Persian school, Mauritanian and Andalusian school, Middle Asian school, Indian school, Seldgouk and Osmanian school. The mentioned schools principally differ from each other by their huge territorial solutions and have peculiar origins of historical and morphological formation. Armenian and Caucasian territories, being situated at the central point of the mentioned cultures, have special huge territorial types. It is especially comprehensive in the peculiarities of Muslim buildings in Armenian towns. In fact, Armenian architecture reacted to Muslim architecture at the intersection of contingency with Arab, Seldgouk, Persian, Mesopotamian and Osmanian schools. Just because of this,
Muslim buildings of the Armenian towns have planning and territorial preferences. They are expressed in the peculiarities of the elaboration of surfaces of the mentioned buildings, by territorial solutions of dome and minaret, in the repairing elements, in the constructive peculiarities of the domes, in the forms of apertures etc.
So, comparing the represented material with the expeditionary measurements of Muslim religious buildings of Shoushi done by the above-mentioned authors, it becomes clear that there are no Muslim monastery complexes in the territory of Shoushi. The same can be said about Madrasahs, which represent territorial significance, to educate the clergymen, those that are seen in Van, Karin, Sebastia, Khlat and other numerous Armenian inhabited localities, which are mostly territories of Western Armenia and Kilikia. Mesdgids which are located in Shoushi, have a composition of either basilica or dome or small hall with obelisks, that is to say, praying places adjoining the houses with corresponding minbar, and nothing else. There are no patterns with compositions of gallery, which are seen in Van, Baghesh, Aintap, Hatschn, Marash, Erznka, Sebastia, Artske and other places (*8). So, excluding Yerevan’s Blue Mosque or Persian Madrasah, the situation of Shoushi repeats the composition of 6 Muslim buildings in Yerevan (*9). Other buildings of Shoushi are ziarets, which are praying houses with Ivan, but without mehrab. So, these are memorials serving for religious purposes, which also served as Madrasahs similar to Armenian “Tertodikian” school in the late period of the town.
After acknowledging the represented plan of the Mosques of Shoushi and other detailed information, we can summarize that Gokhar Agha’s place of worship was the only Dgami or Friday Mosque of the town.
Mesdgids existing in the town can be divided into compositions of basilica and, sometimes, domed basilica. There are differentiations of ceiling solutions with domed arches and simply arched variants. There are one or two dome-shaped arch solutions in the patterns of domed arches in the direction of Mecca. So, the represented mosques, having their Armenian parallels as well, have their regional parallels, including neighboring towns Ordubad, Gandzak, Shemakhi and a number of Azerbaijan, Persian, Turkish inhabited localities, the studies of parallel peculiarities of which are still in the future.
Nowadays, with the existing on hand materials, one can characterize the Muslim religious buildings of Shoushi by the following peculiarities:
1) These are small and medium size buildings with basilica and obelisk halls, with planning and territorial solutions.
2) They are proportionally and territorially lying (not upwards), the biggest of which being in the limits of cube-shaped ratio of length, width and height.
3) The frontal parts are symmetrical and simple, where the elaboration of plane is with the emphasis on its utilitarian elements. The basic element of the frontal parts is the entrance assembly, which is the adjoining element of the praying place of the composition’s center.
4) The joining assemblies of the frontal parts are rectangular or have simple emphasis done with Seldgouk chains.
5) The systems of roofs and covers are vaulted and in hall-shaped patterns the rows of dome-shaped arches are used. The roofs are mostly fake, i.e., with multi-slope and rafter roofs around dome-shaped arches. The passage from the roof to the frontal parts is usually done by simple cornices.
6) The detailed solutions are typical of the architectural heritage of Anatolian Seldgouks, which have similarities with the Armenian medieval heritage. There are interesting glaze-coated examples in minarets or remarkable solutions of brickworks for décor creations. This is stylistically parallel to Ghadgar’s Islamic architecture heritage as well.
7) The surfaces of the walls are mainly plain, where the implementation of multi-plan, light and shadow width in the apertures is created by the expressive means in the entrance assembly or Ivan. From the point of view of eurhythmics, the curve elements were mainly instilled, including the cylindrical size and vaulted apertures of minaret.
8) The leading elements of external surfaces are stone walls, and the columns - in the internal territories and arch flights. The columns are not ordered, but of medieval modulating regularity, which have skeptic capitals in the form of truncated pyramid, not strained real and simple pedestal. Echinus of the capitals, in the sequence of rectangular abacus, sometimes has vegetable and geometrical coatings. The jugular part of the capital is slightly emphasized.
9) Window openings are mainly rectangular and semi-framed. The latter is in the form of arches slightly emphasized mostly in the peak parts. There are also patterns of Persian bi-arrows, cradle-like arched openings.
10) The doors are similar to apertures by their solutions. There are examples of stalactite work solutions or assembled rectangular frames upwards the central arch and two minarets, which were widely spread in Muslim architecture. While being of Seldgouk heritage in Armenian territories, it has its roots in the Middle Asian Muslim architecture.
11) In the studied buildings, one can see that masonry and brickworks are mostly used. Its technique is mitis (Armenian type of three layered masonry having stone facings on external sides and mortar inside), has implemented variants of smooth-finished and curved stitches typical of town. The latter is widely used in Armenian churches, dwelling and public buildings of the town and the territory. The covers are mostly brick-built, with appropriate plaster layer from outside.
12) The means of repairing, including cornices and ornamental designs, are mostly simple.
13) Territorial, volumetric and compositional regularities of frontal elaboration are simple, they are mostly rational and metric classified.
14) In the architectural heritage of Shoushi, the Armenian, by the similarities of the above-mentioned towns, Muslim religious buildings by their characteristics are common to other buildings of the town, whose comparative studies are still to be done in the future.
*6 Oleg Grabar, the Architecture of Power: Palaces, Citadels and Fortification, Architecture of the Islamic World, Its History and Social Meaning, edited by George Michell, Presented by Dar Al-Handasah, Tames & Hudson Ltd. London, 1978, pp. 56-61.
*7 Look for the details in A. M. Kheder, A History of Architecture in the Middle Ages, First part, Islamic Architecture, Aleppo, 1990, pp. 207-212 (the used book is in the Arabic language).
*8 Use the book W/ Bachmann, Kirchen und Moschen in Armenier un Kurdistan, Leipzig, 1913. A. Gabriel, Monuments turcs d’Anatolie, tome 1,2, Paris 1931-1934etc. for the mentioned buildings.
*9 Look in Ervand Shahaziz, Ancient Yerevan, Yerevan, 1931.