Interior of the Mosque of Sultan Hassan, Cairo (1880) by Edward Angelo GoodallArt Gallery of New South Wales
The Artistic Capital: Cairo, Egypt
The city of Cairo was considered the artistic capital of the expansive Islamic world under the Mamluk Sultanate. The prosperity of the city, and the powerful figures that resided there, attracted artisans and craftsmen from across the region and beyond.
Dome Inscription Restored (2007-11) by Matjaž KačičnikAmerican Research Center In Egypt (ARCE)
The Commission of Baha al-Din Aslam
One particular prince in the Sultan's court sought to prove his status by commissioning the Mosque of Aslam al-Silahdar. It was one of the grandest projects built and included many artistic and architectural trends. This includes the heavy ornamentation of the dome's exterior.
This specific dome showcases a detailed inscription that is characteristic of the stone work methods of the time. The interwoven, geometric pattern partnered with the calligraphy highlight the generous patronage of the prince.
Side entrance portal (2008-12) by Matjaž KačičnikAmerican Research Center In Egypt (ARCE)
Mamluk Portals and Masonry
A common portal design in the mid-14th Century included a recessed semi-dome with ornate stone-carvings. Here we also see an architectural technique that alternates between white, black, and reddish stone to create a striped building.
This technique is called ablaq which is Arabic for "particolored" and was popular in the Mamluk architecture of Syria, Egypt, and Palestine.
Mosque Interior Ceiling (2006-06) by Matjaž KačičnikAmerican Research Center In Egypt (ARCE)
Ornately Painted Ceilings
Wood was used throughout the Mamluk era for the ceilings and had remarkably painted and gilded decoration.
These ceilings were often adorned with repeated 6-, 8-, and 12-point geometrical patterns, which were highly popular among Mamluk architects and artisans. This style also resembles the book illuminations of the same period.
Marble Panel (2008-12) by Matjaž KačičnikAmerican Research Center In Egypt (ARCE)
Stone-carvings and colored marble paneling, or mosaics, became dominant decorative methods which were influenced by the Syrian region; possibly even Venice.
The motifs include geometric patterns and vegetal arabesques, along with bands and panels of calligraphy.
Restored stucco decoration (2008-12) by Matjaž KačičnikAmerican Research Center In Egypt (ARCE)
The decoration of monuments became more elaborate as the Mamluk period progressed. Carved stucco was used in interiors around windows and on the exterior of brick domes, minarets, and portals. These windows were often decorated with floral patterns and glass mosaics.
The motifs of geometric patterns and bands of calligraphy are prominent here, similar to the exterior of the mosque's dome.
American Research Center in Egypt (ARCE). “Conservation of Aslam Al-Silahdar Mosque.” ARCE. USAID. Accessed 2021. https://www.arce.org/project/conservation-aslam-al-silahdar-mosque.
Behrens-Abouseif, Doris (2007). Cairo of the Mamluks: A History of Architecture and its Culture. Cairo: The American University in Cairo Press. ISBN 9789774160776.
Petersen, Andrew (2002). Dictionary of Islamic Architecture. Taylor & Francis. ISBN 9780203203873.
Williams, Caroline (2018). Islamic Monuments in Cairo: The Practical Guide (7th ed.). The American University in Cairo Press. ISBN 978-9774168550.
Y. Abdullahi and M. Embi, Evolution of Islamic geometric patterns, Frontiers of Architectural Research (2013). Vol. 2 pp. 243-251 URL https://www.scipedia.com/public/Abdullahi_Bin-Embi_2013a.
Created by Anna Morris, Graphic Designer Studying at Cornerstone University. Professor Sodam Lee