The Middle Gate and Middle Court
More than any other architectural boundary within the palace complex, the middle gate represented a transition from outside to inside. As such, it revealed what was composed on the inside (an interpersonal association) and how this composition appeared on the outside (the sovereign power of a world ruler).
The visitor arrived in the outer court crowded with the attendants and horses of all the officials and ambassadors who were to enter the middle gate and take part in the ceremonies of the middle court. Approaching the middle gate, he was presented with what appeared to be a medieval stronghold (see fig. 7). The entrance was flanked by two stone towers topped by parapets and surmounted by a crenellated wall that joined the flanking towers together. The threshold itself was staffed by military officers and soldiers of the central army and festooned with banners, weapons, and armor commemorating imperial victories.
The external facade of the middle gate therefore represented the fortress of a ruler, and, in so doing, repeated the statement made by the watchtowers and gun emplacements of the high stone wall that surrounded the entire palace complex. This restatement asserts the linkage between military force and victory on the outside with the discipline of interpersonal association on the inside. Accordingly, the threshold itself articulated the relationship force and ethics. It was the site of a court where two military judges (kazasker) tried military officers accused of malfeasance.
In effect, the external facade of the middle gate is a remainder of the old dynastic court tradition of a warrior leader hosting his warrior followers. Now, however, all the symbolism of military capacities and formations has been exiled from the middle court by the logic of a disarticulation, distribution, and rearticulation. So passing through the threshold of the middle gate into the interior of the middle court, the visitor would discover the ethical "substance" behind the military "facade." The official name of this entrance, the Gate of Greeting (bâb-üs-selâm), contrasted with the official name of the Gate of Felicity behind it. The warrior leader hosting his warrior followers had been broken into pieces, consisting of military force and power (middle gate), ethical discipline (middle court), and hospitality (inner gate).
After the visiting official or ambassador passed through the middle gate, he was received under a "stately portico with ten marble columns attached to the gate's inner facade." Before the portico itself, he saw a garden "paradise of peacocks and gazelles, cypress trees and other trees." The visitor had left behind the crowds of attendants and horses in the outer court. He had also left behind the representations of the military force and power of the ruling institution. He now found himself welcomed by an assembly of officials whose dress and movement were regulated by ceremony and protocol. The inner gate represented the personal presence of the sovereign as the guarantor of a discipline of interpersonal association. The middle gate represented the discipline of interpersonal association as an instrument of sovereign power in the world at large. The relationship of inner, middle, and outer courts was then a relationship of gaze, discipline, and rule.