Undergraduate Degree




DD9012 West Asian Cultures and the Art and Architecture of the Ottoman Empire

[Studio Contact Hours: 39 hours; Pre-requisites:Nil; Academic Unit: 3.0]




Academic Unit


3 AU

Course Description


Learning Objective

This course will cover the period between13th-20th century in Eastern Europe [Greece, Bulgaria, Romania, Serbia etc] and Western Asia [Syria, Jordan, Egypt, Iraq, Turkey etc]. The major focus will be on visual / performance arts of the Ottoman Empire [calligraphy, carpet design, textiles, miniatures, ceramic tiles, Ebru painting, puppetry, court and military music, debates on Orientalism]; imperial and Islamic architecture [palaces, mosques, tombs, memorials and civic structures]; and museums and collections today. Although the emphasis of the course will be on Ottoman art and architecture, the Islamic visual culture of Safavid Iran and Mughal India will also be discussed as will artistic contacts with contemporary Europe..


This is an introductory course for students of art new to the subject. As such there is no pre-requisite. Nevertheless, it aims to offer a wide-reaching and deep foundation for students who wish to specialize in Islamic visual culture in later studies. The first part of the course will introduce students to historical methodology and analytical approaches to appreciating the art and architectural history of the Ottoman Empire. After a brief but important reference to the socio-political history of the time and place, the course then discusses the architectural traditions of the Ottoman Empire concentrating on the Anatolian peninsula and conquered lands. The course will then introduce specific crafts, and through them the aesthetics and symbols, related to Ottoman art production from the 13th to the 20th centuries. Overall, the course aims to give a broad-based introduction to the study of cultures influenced by Ottoman rule through a study of art, objects and traditions.

Course Outline




Introduction: Why study Ottoman art and architecture? How to study Ottoman art and architecture?


ALegacies: Byzantine (Christian), Persian-Arabic (Islam) and Turkic (nomadic Shamanism), backgrounds.


From origins to modern times: a brief history of the Ottoman Empire.


Architecture I: Anatolia and the Balkans.


Architecture II: Egypt, Syria, Palestine, Iraq, the Arabian Peninsula and North Africa.


Ceramic Tiles and Pottery






Ebru painting


Textiles-Carpet Design


Performing Arts


Modern Painting: Orientalism in the Orient / Occident


Conclusion: Introduction revisited

Learning Outcome

Students will be able to understand the broad historical and chronological developments of Ottoman-Islamic visual culture from the 13th to 20th century. Upon completion of the course students will have acquired a sound general knowledge of Islamic art, architecture and design, and be able to discuss the relationship between imperial and provincial styles throughout the Ottoman Empire.

Student Assessment

  1. Final Assessment: 40%

  2.  Continuous Assessment: 60% (of which at least 15% is participation)

Continuous assessment components may include:

  • Exercises and projects​

  • Individual, group and team-based assignments


Suggested Reading:

  1. Abdullah Kuran,Sinan, the Grand Old Master of Ottoman Architecture, Istanbul, 1980).

  2. Norman Itzkowitz, Ottoman Empire and Islamic Tradition, Chicago,1980.

  3. Robert Hillenbrand, Islamic Art and Architecture, London, 1999. 

    An assigned reading list of articles and book chapters will be available online.