Hagia Sophia’s Material and Aesthetic View

Hari Luitel
Professor Kite
COR-330-13
April 13, 2017

Hagia Sophia’s Material and Aesthetic View

Religious building is among the most beautiful and the most enduring achievements of mankind.This building have the passions and complexities of a religious belief been commonly expressed in architecture. In this paper I will provide evidence to why architectures have use this material versus that material? Some of the structures in this paper will reveal important religious aspects about why and how they were built.

In my ekphrasis essay I mainly focus on an object that went on building Hagia Sophia. I talked about when it was built and who built it. Hagia Sophia architecture is the most significant piece of architecture and landmark in Constantinople. Once a church, later a mosque, and now a museum, Hagia Sophia, known throughout the years as “Church of Holy Wisdom” was inaugurated in 360 by Constantius I. The Church of Holy Wisdom was destroyed two times until Emperor Justinian I ordered the reconstruction of the cathedral. The reconstruction was to show to the world that Christianity trumps paganism and political legitimization, but also to show the emperor’s power and wealth in rebuilding the church into a massive complex.

Each of Hagia Sophia structure expresses strong faith of Byzantine culture. This paper will mainly focus on Spolia, which was incorporated into Hagia Sophia. According to the article Spolia from Constantine of Charlemagne: Aesthetics Versus Ideology, the author Beat Brent indicates that the term Spolia is a modern term that we see in historical terminology. It came from Latin word “spolium” which means, “remove hide of an animal,” and, in a more general sense, “a soldier’s booty” or “spoils of war.” The present-day term of Soplia refers to reuse parts of architectural constructions that are taken from demolished buildings (Brent 106).

During the era of Constantine, Soplia was first largely used in Arch of Constantine, the Lateran Church, and Hagia Sophia. I found it interesting that the “use of Spolia were not selected for Christian basilicas only but were used on Constantinian buildings in general, mainly for aesthetic reasons, to obtain varietas with the context of traditional forms of constructions and disconnected from their canonical use” (Brent 106).

For my Byzantine connection essay, I explain on Hagia Sophia Aesthetic view. What creates different view during times? Why was it built that way? In the Byzantium, The Surprising Life of a Medieval Empire, the author Judith Herrin mentions that when Hagia Sophia first consecration on 27 December 537, there was no figural decoration on the walls beside the four great seraphim. As construction went on, the dominance of gold mosaic in the side aisles and galleries echoed in the dome with a huge cross in medallions. The author also gives a good summary of artistic uses during pre-Christian and after-Christian traditions. She states that the most oblivious inheritance of antiquity during pre-Christian were the depiction of rulers (statues, reliefs and portraits in mosaics and on coin) and their regalia (jeweled clowns, orbs and sceptines, marriage belts and costumes made of imperial purple and red boots). Later in the seven hundreds Byzantine adapted Christian traditions and started sculpting architectural elements (columns, metals, ivory, enamel and crystal rock).

In the article Hagia Sophia and Multisensory Aesthetics published by Stanford University, the author examines certain materials and artistic choices went into the making of the Hagia Sophia to produce aesthetic appearance. His focus on the radical move, how some marble and gold changed at such moments of transition and reflects sunrise and sunset. He describes that the time selected was crucial for worship because Hagia Sophia’s interior was “meant to be experience during the Eucharistic liturgy, which coincided with the Byzantine third hour of the day” (Pentcheva 93-95).

There have been many changes to Hagia Sophia. It has brought all kind of people together in the same building. Today, it is only building in the world that served three religions: Pagan, Christian, and Islam.

3 thoughts on “Hagia Sophia’s Material and Aesthetic View

  1. Kaylee Mumford

    Your abstract mentions that interpretations of the architecture changing from its traditional form to focus on ascetics. This is similar to the paper I wrote about feng shui. In the United States traditional feng shui beliefs are altered as well. The interpretations focus almost completely on ascetics and design as opposed to the religious and philosophical ideas in which it originated. You did a good job of highlighting that aesthetics and their symbolism need not be mutually exclusive, and that religious ideologies can influence design and artistic choices.

    Reply
    1. Hari Luitel Post author

      Thank you Kaylee. Ascetics views are very important on architecture buildings. I do not think there are many buildings in the United States that produce aesthetics views. We see many of them in Europe and Asia.

      Reply
  2. Kaylee Mumford

    Your abstract mentions that interpretations of the architecture changing from its traditional form to focus on ascetics. This is similar to the paper I wrote about feng shui. In the United States traditional feng shui beliefs are altered as well. The interpretations focus almost completely on ascetics and design as opposed to the religious and philosophical ideas in which it originated. You did a good job of highlighting that aesthetics and their symbolism need not be mutually exclusive, and that religious ideologies can influence design and artistic choices.

    Reply

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