USKUDAR AYAZMA CAMI AND THE GRAVESTONES IN ITS GRAVEYARD
Uskudar Ayazma Mosque is one of the beautiful mosques in Asian side of Istanbul city in many points. One of them is having the bird houses on the outer walls of the mosque. The second feature is that a variety of colored marbles were used for decoration of inner part. The third one is that it was built during the reign of Sultan Mustafa III who ordered to be built some mosques and restored the old ones which were destroyed after the big earthquake. The most important one is that Ayazma Mosque has a small graveyard which has a lot endangered and rare Janissary commanders’ gravestones in. The graveyard is one of the protocol cemeteries where the Ottoman high officials were buried in 18th century. Ayazma mosque is located in Uskudar district, Asian side of İstanbul, and is close to Saint Mahmut Hudai Mosque who was the famous scholar in 18th century. It was built on behalf of Sultan Mustafa III’s mother called Mihrişah Emine sultan but it was noted for as, Ayazma the ancient name of Byzantine palace before the Turks captured the city, instead of sultan’s mother. It has a square plan with four legs built in 1760 and the architecture was Mehmet Tahir Aga. It was also restored several times after the earthquakes and many spoils. The mosque has also a fountain outside, a shrine next to the mosque and a graveyard with 43 tombstones in. The interior part of the mosque is really fantastic with marble plaques and most of them have been imported from Italy to be used for decoration. The Italian marble plaques were used around the sultan’s loge, a private box where Sultan used to pray for security purpose seperately from the Muslim believers. A lot of calligraphic plaques have been written by famous calligraphers with pen in black ink and have been put in different places. The Ayazma mosque is one of the rare mosques in Istanbul because it has some bird houses on its walls as one of the characteristics of keeping birds in safe. The bird, especially the pigeon, is the symbol of purity, cleanliness, peace and brotherhood according to Muslim faith so Ottoman began making some bird houses not only on the walls of the mosques but also on some public buildings such as libraries & fountains to keep them safe from cold weather, dangerous situations and its enemies. The pigeons have been used for sending and receiving the messages by the Ottomans for centuries so they have considered as important animals for communication. The doves, the birds from pigeon family, are also considered as “ holy birds “ while they are being fed due to saying “ HU “ that means Allah-the god. Mawlavi & Baktashi sect members & darwishes used to greet each other saying “ HU “ by bowing their heads as they met on the street or before beginning the rituals. Therefore Ottomans began building bird homes in 16th century AD on the walls of the mosques and public buildings and they have contiued building them until the beginning of 20th century. The bird houses are tiny structures containing one-storey or multi-storey buildings as consoles extended forwards on the outer walls. The birds go into them and spend the nights in. Those who worship inside the mosque used to leave birdseed underneath that the pigeons used to eat them after pray so they believe that they will be forgiven by feeding them and will be awarded by Allah. Ayazma Mosque graveyard is like open-air gravestone museum which has a lot of endangered 17th and 18th centuries tombstones in Asian part of Istanbul. The total number of tombstones in this graveyard are 43 and all of them have been restored recently & have been translated from Arabic into Turkish. The gravestones are classified into main categories : Female and Male. Female gravestones have floral patterns with written inscriptions giving the deatiled information about selective & charming Ottoman ladies. Two of them are really worth watching ; Aişe hatun-foster mother of Sultan Mustafa III dated 1760 and Şakire hanım- the sister of Plevne hero Gazi Osman pasha dated 1902. The male gravestones have headgears showing their status while they were alive and the rare ones can be seen in this place. The famous military headgear is Uskuf, the headgear worn by Janissary commanders such as Çuhadar- the person responsible for Sultan’s clothes, Zerrin, the headgear worn by an elite groups of people such as Enderun Royal academy tutors & pupils, sultan’s private servants , Katibi, worn by Ottoman officials as clerks & chronicles and so on. The main ones are ; Esseyyid Mehmet Aga with Uskuf headgear-commander of Janissary troop-dated 1771, Suleyman Aga-commander of Bostancı soldiers dated 1770, Janissary commander Mercan Aga dated 1773 with Uskuf headgear, Çuhadar Mustafa Aga-the responsible person for sultan’s costumes-with Uskuf headgear dated 1782 and Abdurahman Aga-one of the bookkeepers in Harem section, sultan’s private house in Topkapı palace-dated 1770.