Thursday, August 15, 2013

The Mosque of Amir Baha' al-Din Aslam al-Silhdar

The Mosque of Silhdar

(Amir Baha' al-Din Aslam)

 A general view of the Mosque of Amir Baha 'al-Din al-Aslam Silhdar
The mosque of Amir Baha 'al-Din al-Silhdar Aslam was built by the emir in 1344 to 5 (745-756). Baha al-Din Aslam was a Mamluk who rose to the rank of Silahdar (sword bearer), during the reign of Sultan al-Nasir Muhammad, who was an important patron of the Mamluk period (120-1517) for his significant interest and efforts in architecture and construction, a reflection on the political status and power.

Although al-Silhdar is described by the historian al-Maqrizi as a man of good deeds and kindness, he was the victim of slander that led to his imprisonment for eight and a half years. Al-Silhdar has not been released, but at the end of the reign of al-Nasir, which lasted nearly half a century and was later given his rank.

The area in which Aslam Mosque al-Silhdar is remarkable both for its turn-of-the-century architecture and location. The mosque faces a relatively spacious place that is just inside the walls of the Ayyubid city is overlooking al-Azhar Park. The mosque is located in Abu Hereba street about 300m to the east.
A view of the Al-Azhar Park mosque
Although this mosque shows proof that it was built in several stages, a unified and coherent structure allowed each new section followed consistent patterns of existing parts. It is also likely the arrangement of the building that Aslam has built his mausoleum first and then added it to the mosque.
The mosque-madrasa complex follows the mausoleum of Ahmad al-mehmandar as a prototype and has a cross-shaped plan, however, several new variants of traditional plans are rated one of which is the design of entrance that leads directly into Iwan the mosque and the absence of traditional or transitional space entry, called in Arabic, "Magaz. 

Another entrance opens directly onto the courtyard with a curved path. While it was probably just a second, the old entry on the south side was the main entrance used by the Emir.

Northwestern Iwan Mosque

The cruciform plan of Alam al-Silhdar mosque has several other differences from the traditional four iwan plan.
The east-west and north-south iwans are of different heights and have enough features aliens, both horizontally and vertically. The north and south arcades iwans have two columns each, east and west iwans are arched, the qibla iwan contains a relatively unknown small mihrab and minbar.
The side walls are impressive large medallions carved stucco. During the main mihrab of the qibla iwan is a roundel decorated with red hearts and blue glass hidden in the pattern arabesque sheet.
The north and south iwans that open onto the courtyard by a tripartite portico have flat ceilings on which are located the rooms already occupied by the users and residents of the complex.


The north side of the court


A view of the Qibla wall
The room on the south iwan was probably a reception for the amir, who was also a shaykh in the madrasa, given its location on the main facade account and above the main entrance. The front room was probably the location of the Kuttab as he had a separate staircase.


A view of the Dome Mosque


A view of the entrance Mosque

The inner facade of the rooms consists of a triple windows registry with screens carved medallions in stucco, pellets and arched keel panels. On the East Iwan has an upper arched opening there is only one row Medallion / diamond decoration panel.

Composite Squinch in the mausoleum complex
The second balcony above the iwan is a rare feature in the Mamluk mosques and only became popular in the Ottoman mosques. It was probably used by students, Sufi sheikhs, or in the absence of a separate her by women other than the stairs through the living units access. This roof of the courtyard was made in the 1990s to protect the interior.
The burial chamber which is extremely high in the southeast corner is now used as a storeroom. The walls are empty pocket and pitted, which is usually an indication that some kind of decoration from the previous surface (usually stucco) exist. There is a mihrab, carved stucco which is unusual for this time, when the marble panels were in vogue.
The mosque has two facades. The most interesting feature is the main southern one showing a large rectangular marble panel with red, black and white interlaced trefoil shapes. Brick ribbed dome of the mausoleum is decorated with stucco ribs and a strip of white, blue mosaic tiles and green around the base. However, most of the ornaments are gone. The slots in the base of the dome are unusual for Mamluk times. Around the drum of the dome there is an inscription band, also mosaic tiles which is the Throne verse of the Quran (2:255).

A good view of the minaret of the mosque
The complex represents the Bahri Mamluk architecture in constant evolution, and its rejection schemes and fixed modules. This is evident from the new configuration and arrangement of iwans, portals, and advanced courses, changing patterns of decoration, while taking into account the limits of available plots and necessary functions of the structure.
The fourteenth-century mosque is still in use by local residents today and given the fact that it is in a leading position at the crossroads linking the Darb al-Ahmar district in downtown Cairo to on one side and extends to the south towards the Citadel from the end is one of the most widely used and most public green spaces in the area.

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