20 November 2008

Osman Şah's Mosque

In his inimitable style, Evliya tells us how Osman Şah's mosque came to be:

True, it is rather small, but it is a remarkable, fine and captivating edifice, full of light, a prosperous, well-adorned and brilliantly constructed mosque. There are such jeweled hangings suspended here. . . The court is paved in white marble, and revetted with colored marbles, with arcades along the sides, formed of capdomes supported on monolithic columns, and an upper school formed of chambers for the learned. This brilliant mosque is situated in a level area of lawns and flowerbeds along the bank of the river, with all the other monumental buildings are good works and pious benefactions of Osman Şah.

Koca Osman Şah, the descendant of the Ottoman line, was a man possessed of a magnificently generous nature. He was nephew to Sultan Suleyman, in that his mother was the daughter, born under a happy star, of Sultan Selim the first, and he was slightly older than Sultan Suleyman. Now when Selim turned Suleyman over to the Chief of the Imperial Gardeners with the order to kill him, the Chief Gardener claimed that he had done so, and prepared a bier with a man’s body on it. He took that man out and buried him. Then this foresighted and provident chief gardener disguised prince Suleyman as a gardener, and set him to work with a hoe in the tower garden.

It happened then that Selim Khan fell ill on his return to Istanbul after the conquest of Egypt, and when his remaining household were gathered around him, they said, “My Sovereign, to whom will you pass on this crown, this throne, this mantle and this dominion after you? For behold, my Sovereign, you are left without a son. You have sacrificed your brothers, Sultan Korkud and Sultan Ahmed, and you have sacrificed the darling prince, the tawny lion, free of all faults, your own Suleyman, and now who shall be master of the throne?” When they had said this, Selim answered, “The learned prince Osman Şah, my daughter’s child shall be the supreme and absolute ruler.”

The chief Gardener waited till Selim Şah was in the last agonies of death and taking many hundred thousand oaths in the name of God, he went to find tawny Suleyman in the tower garden, and brought him in to Selim Şah’s presence, still wearing his gilt gardener’s gap and carrying his hoe in his hand. Father and son rushed into one another’s embrace, and Selim Han recovered his health and strength for forty more days. On the fortieth day, after he had raised the Chief Gardener to the rank of a Councillor of State, Selim Han went to his last rest.

When Suleyman Han became absolute sovereign, all the servants of the imperial household raised a great murmur of scandalized outrage, saying, “Selim Han made his testament to us, and we will make Osman Şah our sovereign, since he is a great prince.” So the provident and far-sighted Suleyman got Osman Şah, together with his half-sister, that is to say, Osman Şah’s mother, and sent them off under cavalry escort to ride in a single night into banishment in the Trikkala command. He made this command over as an inalienable lifetime gift to Osman Şah who built this beautiful mosque here in Trikkala and left hundreds of other good works and benefactions. God have mercy on him, for it is certainly a brilliant mosque.

From Evliya's Travels © Pierre A. MacKay.
The mosque today, and here.

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