Large-scale imperial endowments symbolized the munificence and permanence of the Ottoman Empire. They not only provided religious and social services for the communities built around them, but also served as effective instruments affirming a political ideology and projecting a desired image directly from the imperial centre. A textual analysis of the endowment deed (vakfiye) and epigraphic programme of the Atik Valide Mosque Complex commissioned by Nurbanu, the Queen Mother of Sultan Murad III, reveals the ideology espoused by the state at the time. On one level, the vakfiye affirms that the shift of the Ottoman polity from an expansionary to a sedentary one was a welcome and necessary step for the perpetuation of the empire. On another level, the images of Nurbanu and her son Murad were carefully constructed to rebuff criticism from those who argued that the mismanagement, corruption and factionalism of Murad and his court were putting the very existence of the Ottoman state into jeopardy. In these documents, Nurbanu emerges as an exemplary queen mother, pious and generous in nature, committed to the well-being of her son's subjects, while Murad is hailed as the quintessential caliph, capable of both upholding the tenets of Islam and preserving the integrity of the temporal Ottoman domain. As such, the Atik Valide Mosque Complex served at once as a clarion of the positive changes the imperial dynasty had initiated and as a nexus of extensive social services provided by the Queen Mother to aid her subjects who were feeling the combined strains of inflation, food shortages, social unrest and protracted wars.
Keywords: Atik Valide; Murad III; Nurbanu; külliye; mosque complex; vakfiye
Kayaalp, Pinar. "Vakfiye and Inscriptions: An Interpretation of the Written Records of the Atik Valide Mosque Complex." In International Journal of Islamic Architecture, Volume 1, Number 2 (pp. 301-324), edited by Mohammad Gharipour, Bristol: Intellect, 2012.