Bird Houses in Turkish Culture and Contemporary Applications

Onur Erman D.

2nd World Conference on Design, Arts and Education (DAE), Bucharest, Romania, 9 - 12 May 2013, vol.122, pp.306-311 identifier

  • Publication Type: Conference Paper / Full Text
  • Volume: 122
  • Doi Number: 10.1016/j.sbspro.2014.01.1345
  • City: Bucharest
  • Country: Romania
  • Page Numbers: pp.306-311
  • Keywords: Ceramics, birds, bird houses, bird palaces, Ottoman architecture


With their unique ability to fly, birds have always amazed man from the beginning of time. They have been a constant source of artistic and spiritual inspiration. Birds have always been symbols of peace, freedom, wisdom or sometimes, power. People have commonly included birds in their living premises. Initially, mere holes or coves were used to protect them from predators or bad weather. In time, these have evolved and the spectrum has reached bird houses and even bird palaces, with rich architectural and decorative elements. In Turkish culture, bird houses can be seen as early as the 15th century, but the most elegant pieces appear in the 18th and 19th century Ottoman palaces and mosques. Houses were built for sparrows, finches, pigeons, storks or swallows. These were usually made of sun-dried bricks, stones, wood, marble or terra cotta and were installed in high and safe parts of buildings, usually on sunny and wind-shielded sides. Many exquisite examples can be seen most commonly in Istanbul, Bursa and Edirne, as well as in most other cities. However, many of these buildings are at least partly damaged, due to harsh weather conditions, neglect and lack of renovation. Bird houses are the footprints of affectionate people who have shown great respect to all living creatures and supported wild life. They are an original part of our artistic and cultural heritage and should be revived and maintained. Reinterpretation by contemporary artists and building bird houses with currently available materials may help propagate this elegant tradition. (C) 2013 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd.