| Florida Museum Celebrates the Loss of Hagia Sophia
| Wednesday, May 31, 2017
I rubbed my eyes in disbelief seeing a wall plaque at the Cummer Museum
of Art and Gardens in Jacksonville, Florida, explaining an artifact in
its "Ink, Silk, and Gold: Islamic Treasures from the Museum of Fine
Arts, Boston" exhibit. The plaque that caught my eye praises the Ottoman Empire for having turned the Hagia Sophia church into a mosque. Its words:
In addition to their renowned patronage of architecture,
which yielded the conversion of the Church of Hagia Sophia in Istanbul
into a congregational mosque, Ottoman sultans and elites supported
flourishing textile and ceramics industries.
(What does "yielded the conversion" even mean? A search engine finds seven uses of this phrase in the English language, all connected to science.)
Cummer Museum's celebration of the sack of Constantinople.
Hagia Sophia happens to be one of the oldest, largest, most
beautiful, most celebrated, and most important churches of all
Christendom. Built in the 530s in Constantinople, the capital of the
Byzantine Empire, it has always been the object of exceptional praise,
from ancient times (AD 563: "as you direct your gaze towards the eastern arches, you behold a never-ceasing wonder") to modern ones (2014: "In this paradigmatic building, beauty, wisdom and light became interwoven through the architectural structure").
The transformation of the Greek Hagia Sophia Cathedral into the Turkish Ayasofya Mosque did not take place gently. Fergus M. Bordewich describes the brutal shift that took place 564 years ago today:
On May 29, 1453, after a seven-week siege, the Turks
launched a final assault. Bursting through the city's defenses and
overwhelming its outnumbered defenders, the invaders poured into the
streets, sacking churches and palaces, and cutting down anyone who stood
in their way.
Terrified citizens flocked to Hagia Sophia, hoping that
its sacred precincts would protect them, praying desperately that, as an
ancient prophesied, an avenging angel would hurtle down to smite the
invaders before they reached the great church. Instead, the sultan's janissaries battered through the great
wood-and-bronze doors, bloody swords in hand, bringing an end to an
empire that had endured for 1,123 years.
"The scene must have been
horrific, like the Devil entering heaven," says [Roger Crowley, author
of 1453: The Holy War for Constantinople and the Clash of Islam and the West].
"The church was meant to embody heaven on earth, and here were these
aliens in turbans and robes, smashing tombs, scattering bones, hacking
up icons for their golden frames. Imagine appalling mayhem, screaming
wives being ripped from the arms of their husbands, children torn from
parents, and then chained and sold into slavery.
For the Byzantines, it
was the end of the world." Memory of the catastrophe haunted the Greeks
for centuries. Many clung to the legend that the priests who were
performing services that day had disappeared into Hagia Sophia's walls
and would someday reappear, restored to life in a reborn Greek empire.
Read it all here...............
|posted by D.Swami Gwekanandam @ 9:03 PM