A STUDY OF LETTERS OF LEONARDO DA VINCI BIZARRE REVELATIONS,
CONTACTS WITH TURKISH SULTANS AND OFFER OF HELP IN PROJECTS.
Lisa Jardine, the late scholar from the University of London, writes:
“In a series of letters written around 1484 and preserved in one of his many notebooks, Leonardo reports to someone he calls Devatdar Kait-Bai, on the findings of a lengthy scientific mission conducted along the politically contested Turkish coast. (Was Leonardo there in Turkey?)
But Sultan Qaitbay was in fact the cultivated and culturally ambitious Mamluk Sultan at this date.”
It is understood that East and West were on the road to cross fertilization of aesthetics.
The Renaissance art between East and West is being thoroughly documented and exposes the bigotry of some scholars, for some such exchanges put their arrogance to shame. One such brilliant artist was Gentile Bellini, who worked at the Sultan’s court itself. But the most amazing is exchange of letters between Turkish Sultan Bayezid and Leonardo da Vinci in 1502. The reply to Leonardo da Vinci is kept in the Topkapi museum in Turkey. It has been published too, and we reproduce same. A bridge is being proposed by Leonardo to bridge the Bay in Turkey. Modern scholars have worked on the design of the bridge and found it utterly feasible. In fact, the same design was actually used elsewhere, and worked well. It is strange that this did not work out at that time, otherwise it would have been another wonder of the world. The Sultan was apprehensive of the engineering, and did not think much of this “Kafir” as stated in the letter. But Leonardo had assured him that it would work. And it would have. History did not accept that.
But the influence of Islamic art prevailed on the West. For a discussion read our blog on the same subject, as:
POST SCRIPT ON THE LEONARDO’S BRIDGE:
A bridge from Istanbul to Galata
“I, your servant, have heard of your intention to build a bridge from Istanbul to Galata. And that you have not yet built it because it is impossible to find one who can build it. I, your servant, know how to do it. One would raise it to the height of a building so that no one can cross it because it is too high. I will do it so that a ship can pass under it even with the sails raised. I would make a drawbridge so that when one wants, one can pass to the Anatolian coast. May God make you believe these words, and consider that this servant of yours will always be at your service”.
Up to now, we always though that The bridge for the Sultan that he designed was too far ahead of its times to work on those openings. Due to the limitations of the building materials. It resembles the Calatrava bridge in Venice. And, even more, it resembles (in a small way) an existing bridge in China, in Zhaozhou. Built between 589 and 618 with a single arch of 37 meters and with a rise of 7 meter. Or several other Chinese bridges built during the Song Dynasty.