A SISTER-COMMUNITY IN BOSNIA;


Foca-on-the-Drina


13 March 2005: Gojko Jankovic to the Hague

7 February 2005: Only 19 Bosniaks in Foca? The Second Round of Ethnic Cleansing: SDA Accused

January 2005: Savo Todovic, the Disappearer, to the Hague

November 2004: Foca Aladza Mosque Fragments Discovered
October 2004: Indicted Mass-Rapist Gojko Jankovic Still Hiding
Local Authorities Refuse Memorial to Rape Victims at Foca
Map of Foca and its Monuments before Destruction
Indictment Against Dragan Gagovic and Others for Organized Rape in Foca
Good News on Preperty Law Implementation in Bratunac and Foca (October 03)


Illustration 1: Aladza Mosque

Foca (pronounced Fo-cha, accent on first syllable) was located on the Drina river to the east of its more famous sister-city, Visegrad. Foca was known in pre-Ottoman times as a trading center on the route between Ragusa (Dubrovnik) and Constantinople. The Ottomans adorned it with magnificent mosques and public monuments. Foca's Colored Mosque (Aladza dzamija), built in 1551, was one of the masterworks of European architecture. In 1992 militias from Serbia and Montenegro "cleansed" Foca of all its Muslim inhabitants, set up rape-camps and killing-centers, and dynamited, systematically, all traces of Bosnian Muslim culture. They then renamed the city, "purified" of dissident Serbs and all non-Serb inhabitants, "Srbinje."


Illustration 2: Vertical section

The Community of Bosnia has adopted Foca as its sister-community. Over the past two years we have gathered thousands of pages of scholarly material on Foca, including writings, etchings, and photographs.

Professor Lucius Outlaw helped us plan the recording of information on Foca survivors and casualties, suspects in the war-crimes at Foca, and listings of monuments. We are working to further contacts with and among the Focaci to prepare film and book presentations on the heritage of Foca and its people. In the spring of 1994, Haverford College students Asim Rehman, Nehad Chowdury, and David Canes passed out ribbons and the names of Foca victims of "ethnic cleansing."

Below we have gathered photographs of Foca and its Colored Mosque from works such as Art Treasures of Bosnia-Herzegovina, edited by Mirza Filipovic. We also present photographs of Foca after the deliberate annihilation of the Colored Mosque and other Islamic sacral and artistic monuments. These photographs were supplied by Gregg Jaeger. The photographs are interwoven with an essay on the Colored Mosque written by Denis Basic. We are pleased to post this unique essay by Basic, with his permission, below. We were not able to reproduce all the illustrations in the Basic essay, but wherever we had scanned photos corresponding to his illustrations, we place them in the appropriate place within the essay.


Denis Basic, NEAR E 596 A
Calligraphy and Islamic Architecture for Professor Mamoun Sakkal Seattle, May 23rd, 1996

 

Note: the numbers in the [brackets] are footnotes, which can be found HERE!

ALADZA[1] MOSQUE
or
THE MOSQUE FROM THE BOTTOM OF THE RIVER

In the Bosnian town of Foca, in the verdure on the right shore of the river of Cehotina, two thousand odd steps from its confluence into the river of Drina, the building of a new masjid was brought to its completion. Finally, masons placed the stone slab above the door of the mosque on which there was an Arabic inscription written in the elegant Jali Naskh script in three elliptic fields saying:

"This noble mosque and exalted masjid was built by the benefactor - Hasan the son of Jusuf - for the sake of God wishing to attain His satisfaction. A secret voice spoke out its chronogram: 'O Eternal [God], accept [this building] nicely."'[2]

HASAN NAZIR, FOUNDER OF THE MOSQUE

Concerning the founder of the mosque, Hasan the son of Jusuf, one can hear from the folk report that he originates from the village of Vakuf near Foca.[3] This folk tradition is confirmed by a short vakifname (certificate of gift) written in 1535 in which Hasan Nazir clearly states that he is from Foca.[4] Unfortunately, we do not have the vakifname with which Hasan Nazir established his foundation in Foca consisting of one mosque, one imaret (charitable kitchen) and one turbe (mausoleum). However, from some indirect sources[5] it is known that Hasan Nazir endowed two pieces of feudal land in the village of Celebic near Foca and one piece of feudal land in Gabela, Herzegovina for the sustenance of his foundation. Thanks to some historical documents from the Archive of Dubrovnik, we are informed that Hasan Nazir was an Imperial supervisor in the Sanjak[6] of Herzegovina from 1535 until his death.[7] Hasan Nazir died in 1553, i.e. three years after the building of the mosque was completed. One could have found this information on the white marble grave-stone set on the sarcophagus made of the same stone, in the courtyard of the mosque. All four sides of the grave-stone (nishan) were covered with the vertical inscriptions in the Arabic language written in Jali script saying:

"By the order of the just Ruler, the Judge, Hasan Nazir the son of Sinan, the one who needed God's mercy and who is amnestied, drank off the glass of death and moved from the house of sorrow to the home of homage and pleasure towards the end of Dhu al-Hijjah in 960 A.H.." (i.e. between November 27th and December 5th, 1553 C.E)[8]

Though the inscription said that this Hasan was the son of Sinan and not that of Jusuf, the scholars think that the speech is about the one and the same person, arguing that Ottomans used the nickname Sinan al-Din, or shorter Sinan, to everybody named Jusuf.[9]

THE ARCHITECT OF THE ALADZA MOSQUE

According to the Seyahatname (travel-record) of the famous Ottoman travel writer, Evliya Celebi, the architect of the Aladza mosque was "Ramadan Agha, the main representative of the old master-builder Mimar Sinan". [10] In his detailed description of the mosque, Evliya Celebi states that by the realization of Ramadan Agha's architectural vision, "different artisans" helped. The most were the master-builders from Dubrovnik." [11] This report of Evliya is confirmed by several documents from the Archive of Dubrovnik. However, the most interesting proof for the participation of Dubrovnik masons in building the mosque is the fact that the builders did not use the Ottoman ell as a unit of measure but the Dubrovnik one (55 cm). Dubrovnik Christian artists built many sacred Islamic buildings in Bosnia, so that it is possible to find some local, pre-Islamic peculiarities and artistically creative mixtures of the two styles on many early Bosnian and Herzegovinian mosques. Thus, the Hasan Pasha Predojevic Mosque in Plane near Bileca (16th century), as well as the Old Mosque in Bileca, Sefer Agha's Mosque in Dobrica, and some others in Herzegovina have tower-shaped minarets built in the old traditional manner under Mediterranean influence instead of the pencil-shaped Ottoman minarets.[12] However, in the case of the Aladza Mosque the Dubrovnik artisans respected the grand plan which was customary in Ottoman Islamic architecture long before the Ottomans conquered Bosnia (in 1463) and Herzegovina (in 1482).

ARCHITECTURE AND ARCHITECTURAL SCULPTURE IN THE ALADZA MOSQUE [13]

Like the majority of Bosnian mosques, the Aladza Mosque was a one-spaced domed mosque with a portico covered with three semi-cupolas and one minaret. It was the nicest and the biggest mosque in Foca. (see Illustration 1) The complete building was built in stone except for three small cupolas on the porch which were of brick. The 1.10 m thick walls made an almost perfect cube (11.22 x 11.30 x 11.50 m). Transition from the basic cube shape to the polygonal drum which supported the large dome of the mosque, was affected by means of pendentives. The top of the dome was 19.85 m. (see Illustration 2 &3) On its northwest side, the mosque as said had a portico with three semi-cupolas which were supported by four monolithic stone pillars linked by pointed arches. The columns had a round horizontal section; their capitals had stalactite decoration; and their bases had emphasized toms.

Beside the right front corner of the mosque there was a very slim fourteen-sided minaret which was 36 m tall. The minaret had two entrances, one from the mainfil (raised women's gallery) and another below the gallery. The elaborate portal of the mosque was emphasized and elevated from the main front wall. With its stressed height it filled three quarters of the portico's height, and with its breadth it captured the whole space between two central columns. The entry opening of the portal was overlapped with a strong, pointed arch, forming a triangular field on which the previously described slab, with the inscription, was placed. The external edges of the portal composed a nicely profiled wreath whose upper side finished with an array of ten stylized stone buds. (see Illustration 3)


Illustration 3: Portal

DECORATIVE PLASTIC IN THE INTERIOR OF THE ALADZA MOSQUE

Mihrab[14]

The mihrab of the Aladza Mosque was located in the middle of the southeastern wall of the mosque vis a vis the entry door. With its dimensions (2.64 x 6.07 m) and the beauty of its elaborated adornments, this mihrab was unmatched in Bosnia and Herzegovina as well as in the entire region of the former Yugoslavia. (see Illustration 4)


Illustration 4: Mihrab

In the middle of the inferior part of the mibrab there was a seven-sided niche. The tops of the sides of the niche were ornamented by five rosettes. The corners were outlined by six bands, from which, through characteristic knots, starts the transition from vertical to triangular forms, the so-called almond-shaped stalactites. As distinguished from the stalactites on the upper corners of the mosque which spread in an inverted triangular shape, the stalactites on the mihrab gathered and tapered towards the top. The second row of the mihrab's stalactites employed at their bottoms seven pendants. The niche and its decorative plastic were framed by a band, the surface of which was covered by a shallow, planegeometrical relief in the form of inter-woven polygons. This band is again framed by another band, omamented with a floral decoration. This extemal band formed a stone wreath together with a stone tablet on the top of the mihrab.

The top and the edges of the stone slab were omamented by the stylized buds matching the omaments from the portal. The buds, as well as the whole surface of the stone tablet, were filled by a dense floral decoration made by the shallow relief technique and were painted in blue, green, olive, red, pink, and golden colors. The center of the tablet was occupied by an enommous, stylized pomegranate flower, between the petals of which protruded other, smaller flowers. Around this motif spread clusters of roses, smaller flowers, and leaves, among which, again, vines interwoven the whole surface that was govemed by strict symmetrical distribution. Beneath the central motif, in the longish, horizontal frame which was occupied by similar and smaller decoration, there was an engraved inscription saying:

Kullama dakhala 'alayha Zakariyya al-mihraba
"Everytime Zachariah entered the MIHRAB to [visit] her..."

This text is a part of the 37th ayah (verse) of the third Qur'anic surah (chapter), AlImran (the family of Imran). One can ask why this ayah was chosen for the mihrab. I think that there are at least four answers regarding this question:

1. First of all, in the text, the word mihrab is mentioned and, as such, it was suitable for a mihrab (niche).

2. However, it may be necessary to consider the whole verse in order to interpret the symbolic value of the inscription. In the verse it is said:

"So her lord accepted her with goodly acceptance. He made her grow in a good manner and put her under the care of Zachariah. Everytime he entered MIHRAB (private or holy place, or even temple), he found her supplied with sustenance. He said: "O Mary! From where have you got this?" She said, "From God. Verily, God provides sustenance to whom He wills, without limit"(Qu'ran, 3:37). [15]

Obviously playing with the multiple meaning of the Arabic word, "mihrab", the person who chose the text wanted to imbue everybody who would read it with religion. The following parable could be supposed: Zachariah used to visit the private room (mibrab) of Mary in order to look after her. Mary's private room (mihrab) had turned into a holy place (mihrab) because God endowed her with sustenance, for her obedience and belief (in Arabic: Islam). Thus, the chooser of the text perhaps symbolically wanted to say tbat every pious person who enters a temple (mihrab), like Zachariah, in order to furfill hislher religious and social obligations, learns that every true believer gets sustenance and protection from God.

3. It is possible that the founder of the mosque, Hasan Nazir, himself chose the text of the mIhrab's inscription symbolically asking God's protection for his family and town. This could be assumed on the basis of his previously mentioned short certificate of gift'6. As we could see, in that certificate he expresses his deepest sentiments for religion and knowledge, his town and children.

4. The previous interpretation of the symbolic value of the mihrab's inscription could even be enlarged if we pay attention about four Qur'anic verses which fallow the mentioned one (see Qur' an, 3:3841). In those verses it is said that having been impressed by Mary's belief, he prayed "there" (in Arabic: hunalika) and asked from God "a good offspring" (see Qur'an, 3:38). While he was standing in the temple (mihrab), the angels came and told him that he will get the son, John, who will be a Prophet (see Qur'an, 3:39). Zachariah was also told that it will really happen though he was "very old" and his wife was "barren" (see Qur' an, 3:40). Many parallels could be drown between Zachariah and Hasan. In 1550/51 when the mosque was completed, Hasan Nazir already was an older man. As said before, he died in 1553. In 1535, as a thoughtful father, he wrote about his "children". How many of them suNived until 1550, it is not known. However, in the foLk tradition it is said that his son lbrahim Bey died by an accident during the building of the mosque". Thus, it is quite possible that Hasan Nazir ordered the mentioned inscription for the mihrab in his mosque hoping maybe that God will give him another "offspring".

Minbar [18]

The main adornment of the mosque represents its minbar. Its construction was very similar to the construction of every usual minbar in a bigger mosque. However, its plastic decoration which covered its surfaces was of extreme beauty. The whole minbar (4.20xl.10x7.90 m) consisted of three main parts: the portal with stairs and a stone fence, the upper pyramidal part which was carried by four eight-sided small pillars, and the lateral surfaces under the fence. (see Illustration 5)


Illustration 5: Minbar

The portal of the minbar was beautified with a stone slab, the ends of which once had form of the buds like those on the mihrab. The center of the tablet was filled by a rectangular field on which the shahadah (testimony about the oneness of God) was written.[19] Around this inscription there was also a rich floral decoration with vine, leaves, roses and pomegranate flowers. The same ornaments also covered the surface of the stone slab below the inscription in which a Saracenic arch was made. This arch continued and made door-posts which were decorated by vine with flowers. The similar, just a litbe bit larger floral ornaments decorated the lateral sides of the door-posts. The fence of the minbar was embeUished by the plane-geometric relief in the form of hexagonal stars. Under the fence there was a triangular surface with floral ornaments made in the same style like those on the mibrab. The middle of the triangular surface was emphasized by a granite hemisphere. The surfaces beneath the triangular field, as well as the door-posts of the passage under the minbar were decorated by the sheer Rumi ornaments. Those ornaments were imbued by the motive of stylized clouds. The same motive embeUished the stone slabs with Saracenic arches at the top of the pillars which carried the drum and the pyramidal roof of the minbar.


Another picture of Minbar

Mahfil [20]

In the right corner of the mosque, immediately by the portal, there was an imposing stone mahfiL This element of the Islamic architecture, generaUy speaking, helps reduce the towering haU of a mosque to the measure of man, by means of a combination of the elevated and the low, and humanizes spatial relations. The mainfil of the Aladza mosque stood on four eight-sided piUars in the base of which were the plinths and whose capitals were decorated by stalactite decoration. Between the capitals, there were the stone slabs with engraved decorative Saracenic arches. The mainfil was fenced by a perforated stone fence with geometrical ornaments. The Aladza mosque's mainfil was painted with many vivid colors which were the same or of the similar nuances like those of the mihrab and minbar.

COMMENTARY ON THE DECORATIVE PLASTIC ON THE ALADZA MOSQUE [21]

The rich decorative plastic of the Aladza mosque was made at the same time when the building of the mosque was done. The high order beauty of the decorative plastic on the mihrab, minbar, mainfil, minaret, portal and capitals spoke about extraordinary mastership of their builders. The question of styles applied on the Alaca's decorative plastic, is very complex.

From 1540 until 1570 the Turkish applied art was dominated by the ornaments mainly composed of the motives of local flora. This style was known under the name "the motives of four flowers". Those four flowers were: tulip, hyacinth, carnadon, and wild rose. This Ottoman decoradve art was very open to the external influences. Thus, the pomegranate flower from the mihrab and minbar of the Aladza mosque came from the Persian art into the Ottoman one.[22] Actually, the complete concept of the luxurious decorating of mihrabs descends from the paradisiacal visions of Persian artists. This Persian influence on the Ottoman art was also obvious in the example of the Aladza mosque. Those unusual mobves of decorative clouds, the so-called chakras [23], came even from the Chinese art, through the Persian, and into the Ottoman one.

The geometrical ornaments in the Aladza mosque were characterized by the mobves which passed into the Ottoman architectural sculpture from the early Islamic art. Thus, for example, the mobve of interwoven polygons on the Mihrab of the Aladza mosque appeared first in the Ummayad art, or precisely on the Big Mosque in Damascus in 751.[24] Besides, the geometrical motive on the fence of the Aladza minbar came into the Ottoman art from the Ummayad mosque in Medina (built in 709). [25]

Other motives of architectural decoration on the Aladza mosque, like the stalactites, the buds on the minaret, the motive of the sand-glass on the portal, the Saracenic arches, the stylized buds on the mihrab and minbar, represented the sheer Ottoman decoradve elements which in the middle of the 16th century appeared almost on all of Mimar Sinan's buildings.

PAINTED POLYCHROME WALL DECORATION ON THE ALADZA MOSQUE [26]

The Aladza mosque became famous, first of all, because of its polychrome murals. That is also the reason why the Hasan Nazir Mosque was much better known under the name Aladza In Turkish, namely, Alaca means "colorful". It is not known who created the paintings on the Aladza mosque, but it has been conjectured that the artists were of Persian origin. In 1664 the painters of the Aladza mosque were highly praised by Evliya Celebi who declared their decorations "equal to the brush of Behzad, Mani or Shahkul" [27] - supreme masters of mid-16th century Islamic decorative art.

In times past, the wall-paintings entirely covered not only the decorative plastic of the mihrab, minbar and mainfil, but also the dome, all four pendentives, the parts of the great walls in the interior and the external wall on the portico. In all likelihood, these paintings sprang up immediately after the building had been finished. The Venetian traveler and writer, Paolo Contarini who passed through Foca in 1580, wrote that the Hasan Nazir mosque had "a very nice porch". This attribute surely referred rather to the paintings on the portico then to its architecture which was usual. In addition to this record of Contarini, the Hasan Nazir mosque was mentioned in a document from 1588 with its nick-name "Aladza" or the "colorful one". These are the proofs that the mosque was nicknamed "Aladza" after its paintings which had to be done before the mentioned years.

The particularly interesting murals were those above the lower row of windows in the interior of the mosque, as well as ten ornate rosettes between the windows and three shrubs in the form of almond shaped medallions.

However, the most outstanding murals were two magnificent ornamented surfaces under the mosque's portico which were painted to resemble prayer carpets and to symbolize mihrabs. As in the relief decoration of the mihrab, stylized -pomegranate flowers with interwoven vines, leaves, tiny flowers of roses and carnations, and stylized clouds appeared also on the portico's murals. What is more, the motive of the bud which we found on the mihrab, minbar and portal, could have been also found on the porch's paintings. In the overall composition two omamental systems intermingled and mutually complemented each other. As to the styles, more than its decorative plastic, the paintings of the Aladza mosque showed the differences between two floral ornamental styles.

COMMENTARY ON THE STYLES APPLIED TO THE MURALS OF THE ALADZA MOSQUE [28]

The first was expressed in the large bands on the portico's murals and in the rosettes in the mosque's interior. The style includes the system of stylized and more densely interwoven floral elements. In this style there is no central floral element, but all elements are equally important and spread on all sides. This is so-called Rumi style. According to Arseven [29], the Ottoman Turks took over this style from their ancestors, the Seljuk Turks. The Ottomans developed the style and enriched it with the new details - the flowers of tulips and carnations - which also appeared on the Aladza mosques walls.

The second style could have been found on the central bands and the semi-circular adornments on the tops of the portico's great murals, on the surfaces above the windows and on all the other surfaces whose central motive were emphasized. Thus, the main characteristic of the style is that there is always a main central motive, usually a bigger flower, from which all other smaller flowers are spread as a fan. As distinguished from the Rumi style, this style always includes more real flowers which are also painted in their natural colors. This is actually a Chinese floral style which the Seljuks brought over to Persia and Asia Minor from Eastern Turkestan under the name Hatai [30]. In Persia the Hatai style was very often combined with the Rumi style. This is precisely the characteristic of the Aladza mosque's murals and that is another reason for the assumption of many scholars that these decorative elements were painted by Persian artists.

SOME OTHER EXAMPLES OF CALLIGRAPHY ON THE ALADZA MOSQUE COMPLEX [31]

Besides the inscriptions mentioned at the beginning of this essay there were some odd examples of calligraphy on the mosque and neighboring monuments which embellished the whole complex.

Some samples of calligraphy from the portico of the mosque

On the porch's facade on the left and right side of the portal, as well as on the columns on which the portico leaned, there were many inscriptions written by the mosque's visitors. Thus, the portico resembled a memorial book or a book of guests. The most interesting inscription was that written in the Persian language by Evliya Celebi himself in 1664. Evliya wrote a massive text in the field of 75x21 cm in the nice Nastaliq script which said:

"I have traveled and visited many cities, but I have never seen a place like this."

Beneath this inscription he wrote in a tiny Naskh:

"Written by Mu'azin Evliya in 1074." (i.e. in 1664 C.E)
Among other calligraphic decorations on the portico, one calligraphy on a column excelled in its aesthetic value. The calligraphy was composed of the Qur'anic sure Al-'Ikhlas "Sincere devotion" (Qur'an, 112:1-4) written in a circle, forming a medallion with an octagonal star in the middle.

Translation of the sura "Sincere Devotion":
"Say: 'He is the only one God.
The eternal God.
He begets not, nor was He begotten.
And there is none equal unto Him."
(Qurtan, 112:14)

Calligraphy on the mausoleum of Ibrahim Bey

The mausoleum was placed on the right side,of the entrance into the court-yard. It was a typical example of the stone-canopied type of turbe (mausoleum). Its cupola was held by four stone pillars, giving it a height of 5.47 m. The ground-plan of the turbe was a square (3.73x3.73 m). The mausoleum's architectutal style confirmed that it was built at the same time together as the mosque.

Folk tradition says that the founder of the mosque, Hasan Nazir, built this turbe for himself. However, the inscription on the gravestone said that Ibrahim Bey, the son of Hasan Nazir, was buried in the turbe. Thus, he must have died before his father, i.e. before 1553 and probably during the building of the mosque, as said in my commentary concerning the mihrab.

The inscription on the gravestone was written in Arabic prose and set in sixteen fields on all four sides. The gravestone was 1.26 m high with a basis of 16x16 cm. Two fields of the inscription, as well as the turban of the gravestone (nishan), were damaged -probably during World War II. That is the reason that the inscription was not completely legible. The inscription was written in Naskh script. Its translation would be:

"The amnestied one, the deceased one, the lucky shahid, Ibrahim Bey, the son of Hasan Celebi Nazir, died. God may forgive his sins and the sins of his parents. At the beginning of Junadi al-Akhira ... [damaged] in nine hundred ... [damaged] after the Hijrah of the Messenger ... [damaged]."

In the above inscription, Hasan Celebi Nazir is Hasan Nazir, the founder of the mosque and Ibrahim's father. The word "Celebi" was used by Ottomans as a title menning "the learned one". Though two digits in Ibrahim Bey's date of death are damaged, scholars [32] agree and accept the folk report that Ibrahim Bey died at the time when the building of the mosque was in process. They only disagree about the way he died. Some scholars thought that he must have died in a battle, since the word "shahid" (martyr) was used in the inscriptdon. Nevertheless, the majority of scholars accepted the part of the folk report which says that Ibrahim Bey died in an accident caused by the building of the mosque. They argue that in the Islamic legal terminology the word "shahid" was also used for the people who died in an accident.

Some other grave-stones near the Aladza mosque

In the court-yard of the mosque, beside the grave-stone of Hasan Nazir and the mausoleum of his son, Ibrahim Bey, there were some odd nishans (grave-stones) with turbans [33], but without inscriptions. These gravestones descended from the time of Hasan Nazir's gravestone (16th century) or even from an earlier period (l5th century).

Between the Alaca mosque and the bridge over Cehotina there were two cemeteries with 15th and 16th century nishans which were the oldest Islamic gravestones in Foca. They differed radically, in terms of form, carved ornaments, and inscriptions, from Ottoman gravestones. On them were to be found such symbols as a bow and arrow, the crescent moon (which was not exclusively an Islamic symbol), apples, rosettes, blunttipped swords, banners, etc. In addition to these ornaments, on many other early Islamic gravestones in Bosnia and Herzegovina, one can also find birds (falcons), horses, dogs, lions and snakes, and, in particular, representations of the human hand, and even entire human figures. These memorial stones are artifacts specific to Bosnia and Herzegovina and represent the pre-Islamic, precisely Bogumilian [34] influences on early Islamic art in that country.

Calligraphic inscription on the wall in the Alaca mosque's court-yard

On the stone slab (52x55 cm) which was walled above the well in the court-yard of the mosque, there was an inscriphon written in Ottoman in Ta'liq script. The inscriphon was partly damaged in World War II, but the following message could have been read from it:

"Thanks to the True one [God], and His Messenger may be blessed. Let us also remember his friends with nice words. This building [the well] was not here previously. And by God's order it was set. It was set when the attractive fountain (shadrvan) was renewed. May this be an eternal memory to the benefactor, Hajji Selim. Sabriya made a nice chronogram: 'Having counted the date, be forever thankful to the True one for the attractive building. The year 1289 [A.H.]". (i.e. 1872/73 C.E)

Shadrvan (fountain) in front of the Aladza mosque

The fountain in front of the mosque consisted of a pool with the circumference of 9.17 m with a stone glass in the middle. From the glass, water flowed through four pipes. Evliya Celebi reported that at his time the fountain was covered with a cupola which was supported by the system of columns set in polygon.

There was no inscription on the shadrvan. However, its technical elaboration and decorative relief which are very similar, especially to those on the minbar of the mosque, spoke that it was built simultaneously with the mosque. As it was said in the inscription on the well in the court-yard, the shadrvan was renewed in 1872/73. However, this was not the only restoration undertaken on the complex of the mosque.

Restorations and Conservation of the mosque

Toward the end of World War I, precisely in 1917, when the Austro-Hungarian authorities were collecting lead, the mosque lost its roof. Also, during World War II, the mosque suffered some damages. In 1959, the murals of the portico were repaired and restored. After the earthquake in 1962 and the thunder brunt in 1963, the building itself was also repaired. Finally, between 1965 and 1969 the internal murals were restored.

Updated 14 March 2005

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