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Every year, in July, thousands of Alevi pilgrims visit Tekke, a small town tucked away in lush agricultural lands about 130 kilometers inland from Antalya. The name of the village points to its major raison d’être, namely the presence of a tekke: that is, a lodge complex that includes the shrine of a Sufi saint. This shrine-village is dedicated to the fourteenth-century pir, or spiritual leader, Abdal Musa. In this presentation, Christiane Gruber will examine the shrine complex of Abdal Musa in a holistic manner, taking into account the architectonic spaces at the site, the icons that appear within the saint’s tomb, and the votive practices occurring, above all, at the trees and rocks located in the sacred complex. Along with a formal and visual analysis of buildings, images, and objects, information gleaned from textual sources as well as ethnographic research allow for a textured approach to the subject at hand. This interdisciplinary methodology is finessed through some insights drawn from eco-critical theory in order to shed new light on Alevi pilgrims’ interactions with nature, hence recentering the earthly environment within a larger Muslim religious landscape of belief and practice.
Christiane Gruber is Chair and Professor of Islamic art in the History of Art Department at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. Her scholarly work explores figural representation, depictions of the Prophet Muhammad, and ascension texts and images in Islamic traditions, about which she has written three books and edited half a dozen volumes. She also pursues research in Islamic book arts, codicology, and paleography as well as modern and contemporary visual and material culture. Her most recent publications include her single authored book The Praiseworthy One: The Prophet Muhammad in Islamic Texts and Images and her edited volume The Image Debate: Figural Representation in Islam and Across the World, both published in 2019.