Although written sources frequently refer to plans and models used by Ottoman architects during the 15th and 16th centuries, these plans and models are believed to have disappeared completely. In this article, two unknown late-16th-century Ottoman plans are introduced, while other known examples thought to antedate the 17th century are redated on the basis of their previously unnoted watermarks to the second half of the 15th century. These unusual plans shed light on Ottoman architectural practice, which has remained largely unknown since Ottoman architects did not leave behind treatises comparable to those of their European contemporaries. Their drafting technique can be related to a broader context of Islamic drawings from the East, as well as to contemporary plans by European architects. However, they are also characterized by a unique set of conventions which distinguish them as a group. After discussing these plans, the article addresses problems posed by the lack of detailed elevation drawings and the question of whether Ottoman architects used models in designing building façades. The different functions of models are traced through written and visual documents in an attempt to distinguish between commemorative models and utilitarian construction models aiding the design process. As in the case of ground plans, parallels with contemporary European architectural practice are stressed throughout. Finally, the wider implications of these plans and models, concerning the mode in which abstract architectural ideas were communicated and disseminated throughout the Ottoman empire, are dealt with.
- Copyright 1986 The Society of Architectural Historians