Endowed birds

Birdhouse on the Ayazma Camii Mosque. Istanbul, Turkey. Photo by Celalettin Güneş

Birdhouse on the Ayazma Camii Mosque. Istanbul, Turkey. Photo by Celalettin Güneş

The photo above is a two centuries old birdhouse crafted with the same care and skill as the stonework of Ayazma Camii (Holy Spring) Mosque on which it clings.

From theromantictraveler

The charters for new mosques often included provision for feeding the birds that lived in these shelters. The Beyazit II mosque in Istanbul, built in the late 15th century, had a charter that allocated 30 pieces of gold each year to look after its birds. Even when the charter was eventually revoked in the 1920s the official then in charge of the mosque continued to feed them out of his own salary until 1947. In the great Dolmabahce Palace there’s a room that was devoted to looking after sick and injured birds.

Fazil Husnu Daglarca, the famous Turkish poet, relates how a man in Sivas used the income from two shops to look after the city’s birds, and all across turkey you come across similar endowments. In Islam there’s a tradition, at least there used to be, of endowments for everything from poor kitchens, fountains, homes for widows and alms for orphans to trousseaus for poor girls and books for libraries and colleges. Endowments providing water and grain to birds and other animals were just a part of this enlightened attitude.

You can also see more photos on a recent post at Islamic Arts and Architecture.

Hat tip (again) to Dr. Stephennie Mulder.

2 responses to “Endowed birds

  1. Curious and beautiful. Reminds me of so many well-crafted works that go unnoticed by the hurried or harried passerby. This is particularly great because of the functionality. Thanks for making me aware of this.

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