On the Crossroads of Modernisation and Heritage: Fountain-Building in the Late Ottoman Empire
Water fountains are among the most common forms of traditional Islamic charity. The Ottoman Empire, and Istanbul in particular, is dotted with fountains that distributed water to the population. The construction of fountains symbolized the ruler's and the elite's care for the subjects. At the beginning of the 18th century, from very small water spouts, fountains became free-standing buildings that marked the public spaces of the capital. From the mid-18th century onwards, the size of the new water fountains started to decrease, and in the 19th-century new fountains were still built, but not on the same scale as in the previous century. For this reason, historians of Ottoman art have largely ignored them. This research tries to look at the presence of water fountains in Istanbul and in major Ottoman cities throughout the 19th century and in the first decades of the 20th century. The construction and re-building of water fountains will be linked to the concern for public health, the growing awareness of the artistic past, the heritage construction, and to the legitimation policies of the rulers, in particular Abdülhamid II (r.1876-1909). This project aims at showing how fountain-building laid at the intersection between traditional Islamic charity and modernisation of the urban fabric.
First Supervisor: Prof. Dr. Ulrike Freitag
Second Supervisor: Prof. Dr. Nora Lafi
Third Supervisor: Dr. H.P.A. Theunissen