Map of Women Patrons’ Structures in Ottoman Istanbul

Produced as part for Commissioners’ Exhibition, Map of Women Patrons’ Structures in Ottoman Istanbul brings together four and a half centuries of various structures built by women, who generally belonged to the ruling or religious elite, wielding economic and sometimes even political power. Often fruits of philanthropy, these structures have survived to this day or their former locations are known. The map is derived from insurance, fire, and road maps, as well as street guides from the late Imperial and early Republican periods besides sources focusing on Ottoman women’s patronage. It is based on aerial photographs taken between 1913 and 1946, and the shoreline compiled from maps of this period in addition to the urban texture of 1927. Thus, it aims to embody a geographic and urban scenario closest to the transitional period.

This map is not to be perceived as a finished product, but is rather an open-ended thinking mechanism which can be improved upon with additional sources while prompting new questions and research subjects. Its representational capacity has been limited by method; the map intends to say as much with what it contains as what it does not contain. The absence of non-Muslim women or women with lower socioeconomic status on the map points to a fundamental lack of discussion in academic literature. Structures known with women’s names—those built by men but gifted or handed over to women—are not present in this study either, as women patrons are considered active players in the construction process of their own structures. The map enables an examination of the role women patrons played in Istanbul’s urbanization by scrutinizing all sorts of locations, scales, and building activities including architectural details and repairs.

Research and content: Firuzan Melike Sümertaş
Mapping: Firuzan Melike Sümertaş and Murat Tülek
Editors: Başak Çaka, Can Gümüş and Gökcan Demirkazık

Commissioners’ Exhibition
September 13 - November 26, 2017
SALT Galata