Eşrefoğlu Mosque is the only wooden mosque where several decorative techniques of stone, brick, ceramics and painting were used together.
It is still a mystery how the wooden portions of the mosque, built in 1299, lasted until today without decay Eşrefoğlu Mosque, built in 1299 in the Beyşehir district of the central Anatolian province of Konya, is an architectural mystery.
How the wooden parts of the mosque survived until today without decay has baffled scientists. The seven-century-old mosque has a special place in Turkish architecture since it is the only wooden mosque where several decorative techniques of stone, brick, ceramics and painting were used together.
Built by Eşrefoğlu Süleyman Bay in 1297-1299, Eşrefoğlu Mosque is known as the biggest flat-ceiling mosque placed on wooden pillars, the Anatolia news agency reported. The historical building is still open to worship and is considered a “Turkish museum made of wood” thanks to its superior handicraft of wood and ceramics.
Eşrefoğlu Mosque, a unique example of Islamic architecture, is also noteworthy for its wooden pillars as well as ornaments and fresco paintings on the ceiling.
Selçuk University art history department Assistant Professor Yaşar Erdemir, speaking to Anatolia, said the mosque constructed of cedar in the neighborhood of Beyşehir has not decayed in the slightest for 708 years. Erdemir said the most interesting aspect of the Eşrefoğlu Mosque mystery was its ornaments made with various techniques. Why was a ‘snow well’ built in the middle of the mosque? One of the most important characteristics of the mosque is the four or five-meter well called “karlık” (snow well), in the middle of the mosque, Erdemir said.
“The reason the ‘karlık’ was built is not clear. The upper part of the karlık was left open in the original, and it is estimated to have been built to prevent the decaying of the mosque. The snow that fills the karlık melts slowly and the humidity in the mosque is thought to have lengthened the life of the trees used. Timber cracks in very dry weather, its needs moisture. This may be the reason why the 48 wooden pillars of the mosque have not been damaged by worms for years. The upper part of the snow well was covered with glass in a 1965 restoration and has since lost its function.”
“The mosque’s rich ornaments, stones, bricks, marbles and tiles, as well as its wooden pillars and fresco paintings on the ceiling make it unique. Eşrefoğlu is the only mosque where so many decorative techniques were used together,” Erdemir said.
The mosque’s dome ornamented with tiles in front of the pulpit has no equal, Erdemir asserted. “The pulpit of the mosque was made up of walnut and had rich ornaments. The pulpit was engraved with a technique called ‘kündekari,’ without adhesive. This pulpit is the most splendid example of this technique unique to Turkish architecture.”
Emphasizing the pentagonal shape of the mosque is another original aspect, Erdemir said the additional section outside the mosque that was built as a praying place for individuals when the mosque is closed was used at the Eşrefoğlu Mosque for the first time. Erdemir added Eşrefoğlu Mosque’s unusual structure continues to attract the interest of local and foreign tourists alike.
Some selected examples (please click on pictures to enlarge):