259-year-sundial at Üsküdar mosque mistakenly painted

The 259-year-old sundial on the minaret of Abdullah Ağa Mosque in Üsküdar’s Kısıklı neighborhood was mistakenly painted during restoration work.

“We are facing yet another classic restoration disaster in Istanbul,” said history researcher Mehmet Dilbaz.

Kısıklı Abdullah Ağa Mosque, located on Minare Street was built by Bostancıbaşı Abdullah Ağa. The mosque, whose construction date is unknown, was critically damaged in an earthquake in 1892.

After the mosque was rebuilt in 1927, restoration work started at the mosque in 2014. Following the completion of the restoration, the mosque, which has a single minaret and two balconies with masonry walls and a wooden roof, was opened in 2016.

The sundial located under the minaret of the mosque, which was drawn in 1762, had been painted over.

Academician, historian and theologian Dr. Fatih Köse reacted to the situation in a post on his social media. “One should pay attention to where they’re painting, or there should be an expert to guide them thoroughly. This is an ignorant intervention. If you look carefully, you can see that this is a sundial, and if you have knowledge of Ottoman Turkish and are familiar with the issue, you can read and learn further information about it.”

“Unfortunately, we are facing a restoration disaster again, which has become a classic for İstanbul. The matter of the Kısıklı Abdullah Ağa Mosque or the primary school in Cağaloğlu proves that we do not know how to do a proper restoration” said history researcher Mehmet Dilbaz.

“Because these works produced by restorers, architects or workers who are not conscious of preserving the historical artifact, cause irreversible damage to historic assets. Having good technology or working with teams that know this job very well is not enough. When you work with architects, workers and engineers who do not know what the historical monument contains and how the sundial on the wall works, it results in paint on the sundial in Abdullah Ağa Mosque in Kısıklı or with the primary school in Cağaloğlu painted with crimson oil paint.” he said.

Dilbaz, stating that every reparation attempt can damage the texture of historical artifacts, said: “Of course, these incidents can be compensated, but every amendment, every effort of new restoration causes irreparable damage to the spirit of these historical artifacts.”

“What needs to be done is to increase awareness of historic structures and work with private contractors who only deal with this type of restorations by leaving it to the professionals. Otherwise, all we ever get will be quickly losing our remaining historical artifacts,” Dilbaz said.

“Eser-i Şâmî-zâde, kad resemehu Yahya, Fi sene 1176 S.” is written on the sundial. In today’s Turkish, these expressions mean “It is the work of Şamlıoğlu” and, “Yahya painted it in the Safer month in 1762.” “Zurh” is written at the lower corner of the sundial and “Asr” in the middle. Zuhr means noon and Asr means afternoon, and also, there is the number 8 right across from the text. According to this system, the evening begins at 12 o’clock while noon coincides with 4 p.m.