An Italian Renaissance Gate for the Khan: Visual Culture in Early Modern Crimea

In: Muqarnas Online
Nicole Kançal-Ferrari History Department, Şehir University, Istanbul

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This article introduces the Renaissance “Iron Gate” erected in 1503–4 in the Khan’s Palace in Bahçesaray, Crimea. It proposes a new interpretation of this famous portal in the residence of the Crimean khans, taking into consideration the broader cultural context of early modernity. The research focuses on the visual appearance of the Iron Gate and the content of its unique inscription. Comparison with other portals and a tomb from the Balkans, on one hand, and with titulature in inscriptions, coins, and diplomatic documents from the Turco-Mongol-Islamic environment, on the other, furnishes enough data to situate the portal within the historical-cultural context of the khanate in the northern Black Sea region. Through an analysis of ways in which envoys were received in the Crimean capital, and an assessment of the architectural environment of the palace, new dimensions are opened into understanding Khan Mengli Geray I’s self-representation as ruler during this historically significant period.

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