unbekannter Gast

The East with its historical attraction in German architecture#

By Günther Jontes

All photos were taken by the author in the years 1985, 1988 and 2000. They are part of his archive "Picture-flood Jontes".


Curiosity of humans arises from everything that lies in the far distance and beyond one’s world of experience. It is “outside” and therefore according to the Greek term “exotic”. Remote countries produce things that have always evoked desire. In ancient time spices and silk reached the West, then Chinese and Japanese porcelain and finally the three hot drinks tea, coffee and chocolate. The countries of origin were Asia, Africa and America. They combined the luxury delicacies with ceramic tableware which they were able to produce on their own.

In the castles of the potentates the collections continued to grow, and porcelain cabinets were not uncommon. The most unusual porcelain cabinet in Germany is the so-called Tea House in the park of the castle Sanssouci in Potsdam Schloss Sanssouci Potsdam , the favourite castle of the Prussian King Friedrich I, the Great. The elegant construction has nothing in common with Chinese architecture at a first glance. In art history it is called Chinoiserie. With its asymmetrical forms of decoration in the Rococo it illustrates the transition from the overloaded late baroque to the cool classicism of the outgoing 18th century.

Chinese teahouse
Chinese teahouse, under CC BY 4.0
Chinese tea house
Chinese teahouse, under CC BY 4.0
The roof crown consists of a fat mandarin. The only Chinese element is the honour umbrella
The roof crown consists of a fat mandarin. The only Chinese element is the honour umbrella, under CC BY 4.0
Decorative details
Fine decorative details on the round facade, under CC BY 4.0
Decorative details
Fine decorative details on the round facade, under CC BY 4.0
Decorative details
Fine decorative details on the round facade, under CC BY 4.0

In 1754, the architect Johann Gottfried Büring began to build the column-supported rotunda according to models in the Lorraine. Under its protruding, non-Asian swinging roof six groups of persons made of sandstone lean against the columns. They drink tea, chat, flirt and eat exotic fruit. The sculptors Johann Peter Benckert and Joachim Matthias Heymüller created these masterpieces of relaxed socializing.

Groups of persons made of sandstone
Licensed under CC BY 4.0
Groups of persons made of sandstone
Licensed under CC BY 4.0
Groups of persons made of sandstone
Licensed under CC BY 4.0
Groups of persons made of sandstone
Licensed under CC BY 4.0
Groups of persons made of sandstone
Licensed under CC BY 4.0
Groups of persons made of sandstone
Licensed under CC BY 4.0
Groups of persons made of sandstone
Licensed under CC BY 4.0
Groups of persons made of sandstone
Licensed under CC BY 4.0
Groups of persons made of sandstone
Licensed under CC BY 4.0
Groups of persons made of sandstone
Licensed under CC BY 4.0

Everything shines of gold. The gold plating weighs a total of two kilos and has to be renewed every 30 to 40 years. Inbetween there are musicians of both sexes who, under the guidance of a music director, play strange table music on bizarre instruments which imagination thought to be “Chinese”. Without music, there was hardly a festivity in these circles in the Baroque period. In this architectonical setting nothing is considered to be Chinese. It is just a China of imagination! From time to time the Prussian King visited the teahouse in order to admire his collection of Asian porcelain.

As was customary in Baroque music, also the „Chinese“ played standing up with string-, plucked-, and wind instruments and drums. They had no idea about Chinese music and Chinese instruments.

Musician
Licensed under CC BY 4.0
Musician
Licensed under CC BY 4.0
Musician
Licensed under CC BY 4.0
Musician
Licensed under CC BY 4.0
Musician
Licensed under CC BY 4.0
Musician
Licensed under CC BY 4.0
Musician
Licensed under CC BY 4.0
Musician
Licensed under CC BY 4.0
Musician
Licensed under CC BY 4.0

When, under Prince Eugene, the expansive force of the Ottoman Empire was broken and there was no longer any fear of being directly attacked by Turkish armies, because they had been thrown back far beyond Belgrade, the exotic charm of the Orient was suddenly recognized. This was expressed at various cultural levels. It was more than just the desire to enjoy coffee.

In music, the model of „alla turca“ was spreading. The pipers and drummers of the military were replaced by the “Turkish” brass music, cymbals, drums, and Turkish crescent. On the occasion of the Turkish Siege of Vienna 1683 people were very afraid of this music. One of the highlights with regard to music and literature was the “noble Turk” as Mozart had characterized him in his "Abduction from the Seraglio".

The Palatinate castle with one of the most beautiful baroque gardens in Europe is situated in Schwetzingen, the asparagus town in Baden-Württemberg. The extensive facilities offer everything that a prince's heart could delight.

Borders
Borders, under CC BY 4.0
Fountains
Fountains, under CC BY 4.0
Prey of princely hunts carved in stone
Prey of princely hunts carved in stone, under CC BY 4.0
Bucolic scenes of peaceful ancient serenity
Bucolic scenes of peaceful ancient serenity, under CC BY 4.0
Ancient water deities from whom rivers flow
Ancient water deities from whom rivers flow, under CC BY 4.0

There is a mosque, as it was imagined in the eighteenth century, although the Orient, especially the Turkish one, must have been better known because of contemporary printing. The architect Nicolas de Pigage created the mosque. The model was an oriental building in the Park of Kew near London.

It was built and equipped in the interior from 1777 to 1795. The Red Mosque in the southern part of the park, the Turkish Garden, is one of the typical ornamental buildings. It had no liturgical function. After all, the Islamic crescent moon can be seen again and again at the top of the domes. Apart from the mosque in the castle park of Schwetzingen, there are temples dedicated to Minerva, to Apollo, and Merkur with motifs from antiquity which had to serve other emotions.

Dome structure
The dome structure is integrated into a structure of covered corridors. The domes have no relation to the structures and dimensions of Islamic sacred architecture, under CC BY 4.0
Minaret
Minaret, under CC BY 4.0
Minaret
It is higher than the „Mosque“, under CC BY 4.0
Minaret
It has rather proportions of a modern factory chimney, under CC BY 4.0
The domed building is actually a gate that connects two covered corridors
The domed building is actually a gate that connects two covered corridors, under CC BY 4.0
Dome structure
Dome structure, under CC BY 4.0
Dome structure
Dome structure, under CC BY 4.0
Dome structure
Dome structure, under CC BY 4.0
Covered corridor with ist ogee arches
Covered corridor with ist ogee arches, under CC BY 4.0
Covered corridor with ist ogee arches
Covered corridor with ist ogee arches, under CC BY 4.0
The ceiling repeats the swinging of the gates
The ceiling repeats the swinging of the gates, under CC BY 4.0
Dome structure
Dome structure, under CC BY 4.0
The domes are partly composed of plant elements
The domes are partly composed of plant elements, under CC BY 4.0
Palm leaves - The palm tree is the exotic tree
Palm leaves - The palm tree is the exotic tree, under CC BY 4.0
Palm leaves
Palm leaves, under CC BY 4.0
Exotic painting
Exotic painting, under CC BY 4.0
Clerestories direct the light into a central room
Clerestories direct the light into a central room, under CC BY 4.0
Clerestories
Clerestories, under CC BY 4.0
Arabic inscriptions
Arabic inscriptions without calligraphy value are supposed to be wisdom sayings which are sometimes followed by a German paraphrase, under CC BY 4.0
Arabic inscriptions
Arabic inscriptions, under CC BY 4.0
Arabic inscriptions
Arabic inscriptions, under CC BY 4.0
God‘s name Allah can be read in a small cartouche
God’s name Allah can be read in a small cartouche, under CC BY 4.0
Cartouche
Cartouche, under CC BY 4.0

The Bavarian King „Kini“ Ludwig II had the abnormal desire to construct buildings based on the model of the Wagnerian Middle Ages. With respect to architecture his ideal was the king of sun, Ludwig XIV. On the extensive grounds of the castle Linderhof Palace there is the “Moorish Kiosk” with its contribution to the Middle East.

King Ludwig II was placed under supervision because of this maniac building passion. The expenses had weakened the state budget too much. His buildings which, today, are among the country's major tourist attractions and sources of income, seem to come from all possible epochs and styles. Castle Herrenchiemsee competes with Versailles, Neuschwanstein is a fantastically elevated medieval castle. With castle Linderhof he surrounded a baroque palace in the midst of a magnificent park with monuments of his passion for Richard Wagner: The Venus Grotto for the opera Lohengrin and the Hunding’s Hut for "Die Walküre (The Valkyrie)". Not far away there is the „Maurische Kiosk“ ( “Moorish Kiosk”) to represent the East.

The Moorish Kiosk is older than the castle Linderhof which was completed in 1878. The building was created by the Berlin architect Karl von Diebitsch for the world exhibition of 1867. Later the Kiosk was bought by the owner of the Bohemian castle Zbirow. In 1876, the Kiosk was bought by “Kini”. After an adaption it was partly re-equipped and set up in the park of castle Linderhof. The kiosk is already a typical engineering building that combines an iron construction with wood and some new building materials. On the outside, it is clad with ornamented zinc castings. Inside, there are coloured gypsum boards which are covered with rich ornamentation.

Moorish Kiosk
The Moorish Kiosk is small but monumentally impressive because of its heightened location, under CC BY 4.0
Moorish Kiosk
Moorish Kiosk, under CC BY 4.0
Moorish Kiosk
Moorish Kiosk, under CC BY 4.0
The zinc material is not visible on the outer walls with its delicate ornament
The zinc material is not visible on the outer walls with its delicate ornament, under CC BY 4.0
The zinc material is not visible on the outer walls with its delicate ornament
The zinc material is not visible on the outer walls with its delicate ornament, under CC BY 4.0
Wooden base of the panelling, inside
Wooden base of the panelling, inside, under CC BY 4.0
Colourful class windows
Colourful glass windows give a soft light inside, which underlines the design, under CC BY 4.0
Colourful glass window
An analysis of the window also shows a certain distance to the Islamic decorative ornamentation, under CC BY 4.0
The magnificent lamps are inspired by lights of mosques
The magnificent lamps are inspired by lights of mosques, under CC BY 4.0
Magnificent lamps
Magnificent lamps, under CC BY 4.0

This peacock looks very exotic effect. However, it violates the pictorial rules of Islam, not to depict living beings like animals, humans and plants artistically. In Hinduism the peacock is a sun symbol and the mythical riding animal of the son of Shiva Subhramanya / Karttikeya who is especially worshiped in South India.

A peacock relief of this kind as can be found as a wall decoration in the palace of the Maharana of Udaipur in India, might have served as a model for the peacock depiction at the Moorish Kiosk in Linderhof. In Hinduism, this bird (Hindi mor) is regarded as a riding animal of Shiva’s son Subhramanya and as a sun symbol.

Peacock
Licensed under CC BY 4.0
Peacock
Licensed under CC BY 4.0
Peacock
Licensed under CC BY 4.0
Peacock relief
Peacock relief, under CC BY 4.0
Marbled water basin as a tiny fountain in the interior
Marbled water basin as a tiny fountain in the interior, under CC BY 4.0
Fan made of peacock feathers is rather Indian in its form
Fan made of peacock feathers is rather Indian in its form, under CC BY 4.0