"Art is a lie that tells the truth" -- Pablo Picasso
Off-topic, but will be of interest to you, from today's Telegraph.
Thanks Lapinbizarre. I'm a little surprised at the Turkish government's decision. Usually they go out of their way to avoid any hint that they might be removing Muslim modifications to Hagia Sophia, even ones from the 19th century (the century in which fundamentalism of both the Muslim and Christian varieties first appeared). There are still very passionate Muslim and Christian sectarian claims made on the building.It was the most important of all Byzantine churches, and it was also the most important of all Ottoman mosques. Under both empires, it was the center of religious orthodoxy. Feelings about the church/mosque run very high.
Think I'm right in remembering that all the iconographic mosaics now exposed in the church have been uncovered since secularization. Presumably the relatively inaccessible position of the seraphim is one reason none of them has been uncovered until now.
The mosaics were covered up with plaster only in the 19th century. With secularization, the Turkish government removed the plaster and brought them to light again. The large canvas roundels with calligraphy, and the mihrab remain, and will probably always remain. I'd be interested to see if there is much enthusiasm for investigating what, if anything, might be behind the calligraphy in the top of the dome (maybe just a cross, maybe a 14th century Pantocrator, of maybe nothing).
The dome calligraphy is, to my eyes, so beautiful that, religious politics aside, it would be a sin to consider removing it. I also doubt that those who executed the dome mosaics would have laid new mosaics over old at so physically sensitive a spot. Surely they would also, thinking practically, have regarded the tesserae of any Byzantine mosaics in the dome, as a source of raw material?
I suspect that you may be right, that there is nothing under there. Indeed, many of the Muslim elements in the building are masterworks in and of themselves. Frankly, I think Sinan's minarets improved the building.
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