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Sprach- und Literaturwissenschaftliche Fakultät

Lehrstuhl Islamwissenschaft – Prof. Dr. Rüdiger Seesemann

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The Language of Authority: The iconography of power under Qara- and Aqquyunlu rule ​Einklappen


Verantwortlich: Dr. Georg Leube

One of the defining features of the Islamicate (Hodgson) is a common iconographic and narrative repertoire underlying negotiations of status and power. As is typical for such inherently open repertoires, it is almost impossible to clearly define a specifically Islamic repertoire as opposed to other traditions for any given period. This external openness is paralleled by an internal permeability that makes any attempts to construct and substantialize separate social and intellectual entities within Islam beyond the level of ad-hoc polemics highly problematic.

The research project which I propose for my Habilitation at Bayreuth University engages with this bewildering external and internal openness of Islamicate iconographies of authority from the perspective of a Formensprache or Language of Forms (Krautheimer). This concept, derived from the study of art and material culture, argues that iconographic repertoires underlying individual claims to authority and status can be understood in analogy to languages underlying individual utterances: Just as a sentence is formed by combining pre-existing, diachronically determined linguistic elements in a synchronic phrase (de Saussure), any claim to authority or power is formulated by combining meaningful elements of prior representations of authority in a new claim to power. This approach enables a coherent evaluation of material and written culture, which is a long-standing desiderate in our discipline, where philologically oriented Islamic Studies much too often fail to consider the frequently very rich material heritage in a way that transcends the use of epigraphy or numismatics as a source of dates and names. In my project, I will be building on the work of Islamic Archaeologists such as Scott Redford in combining material and written sources in my attempt to reconstruct the Formensprache employed in the representation of authority during a particular time and region.

The choice of the 15th century dominion of the Turkmen Qara- and Aqquyunlu dynasties over Eastern Anatolia and Western Iran as the field of my investigation is motivated by its rich material and written heritage, the long-lasting influence of ideas and structures originally derived from this context and by the lack of a coherent presentation of the cultural history of this time in existing scholarship. At the same time, an integrated discussion of the cultural history under Qara- and Aqquyunlu rule is feasible due to the wide array of important studies focussing on individual aspects of this time (Aka, Aube, Bernardini, Brent, Busse, Dekkiche, Dunietz, Ḥasanzāde, Keçik, Lingwood, Lonsensky, Minorsky, Quiring-Zoche, Roxburgh, Sümer, Ṭabāṭabāʾī, Uzunçarşılı, Werner, Woods). By focusing on the realm of the Qara- and Aqquyunlu, I do not, however, intend to claim any form of exceptionalism for this particular period, rather the closer examination of this timeframe should be taken as an exemplary analysis of iconographic and narrative repertoires, which were drawn upon in other contexts as well.


Verantwortlich für die Redaktion: Univ.Prof.Dr. Ismail Warscheid

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