In this category, I will feature the art of Geometry and Arabesques that I came across in real life, whether locally, those I went through in my daily life, or in my travels abroad.
Please note as well, some of the images I used are from the internet. I ensure you the pics are public property, and shows the actual place the article is referring to.
JAME’ ‘ASR HASSANIL BOLKIAH MOSQUE, BRUNEI DARUSSALAM
I live in Brunei Darussalam, and whether you know or not about it, you can always assume the country is a muslim one, since it has an arabic name. Brunei is proud of its culture and religion, and it shows all around – the daily life of its people, their commitment to uphold the MIB (Melayu Islam Beraja, Malay Islamic Monarchy) philosophy, to the appreciation of Islamic art and architectures on Mosques, Tombs to the Ministry offices and even the Police stations!
In this post I would like to introduce you to the one of the most iminent symbol of Islam strength in Brunei : Jame’ ‘Asr Hassanil Bolkiah. It is the second (if I can recall correctly) tallest mosque in Brunei.
Jame’ ‘Asr Hassanil Bolkiah mosque, named after Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzadin Waddaulah the 29th Sultan of Brunei Darussalam, was built in 1988. It was opened and utilized 5 years after, on 14th July 1994, on the night before His Majesty’s 48th Birthday. It was built to commemorate the monarchy’s silver jubilee rule.
Build on a 20-acre lot situated in Kampong Kiarong some 4 kilometres away from the heart of the city Bandar Seri Begawan, it is one of the most imposing and majestic building in Brunei. Its grand scale means this sacred building can be seen from the downtown Gadong, as well as those who are traversing the highway going to Bandar Seri Begawan. Its overwhelming size also means that it can accomodate up to 4000 worshippers at one time.
The mosque has been noted as an architectural masterpiece. It took its form from Turkish mosques, with its four tall minarets overlooking the grand, golden domes. Serene gardens decorate the landscape, with fountains and pools with many species of flowers and plants.
The interiors are obviously influenced by middle east, just as the plan of the mosque is, but mixed with local accents and modern aesthetic. The ablution halls are decorated with white and blue tiles that reminds of the famous Fez tiles. In the center of the hall is a fountain, and underneath it there is spouts for ritual cleansing, controlled mechanically that not require the users to turn any faucets, but rather just stretch their hands out below the spouts to automatically flow out water.
In the center halls, there are these irregular columns, shaped like conical spirals, raising to support the roof of which a dome of stained glasses lies. The stairs leading up to the main prayer halls swirls around the central fountains with its many colourful lights, accentuated by the colours of the stained glass dome that shines down.
On the side is a colonnaded hall of black marble pillars raising high supporting a white and gold ceiling – another modern feature is presented here, where an escalator is available. This is usually the place where the Royal Family enters the mosque.
The main hall itself is a awe-inspiring and serene. Under a great dome decorated with Quranic inscriptions in gold on a white background, it is supported with great pillars of white marble that surronds the circumference of the hall. The floors is decked out with custom made prayer mats with the image of the mosque imprinted on it. The Mihrab (prayer niche) is decorated with black marble and accentuated with gold mosaics. The whole Qibla wall (the wall of which devotees face in prayer) is decorated with golden mosaics with flower and vegetal motifs and Quranic inscriptions. The Minbar (Pulpit of which from sermons aredelivered) have a golden dome above it, mirroring the golden dome above the roofs. As like the Qibla wall, it is also decorated with golden mosaics.
As you can read from the above introductions, you can guess that the mosque is fully decorated with symmetrical Geometric patterns and Arabesques, and that is what we want to discuss. The whole place is full of impressive geometric patterns, whether in micro sense or macro : from the smallest details on the tiles to the symmetrical patterns for the flooring and the landscapes.
Let us see some of the patterns that were featured in the mosque.
This is one of the entrance into the mosque. Pools, fountains, flowering trees accentuates the architectural features of arches and of course the mosque itself. You can see the floor is decorated with the universal eight point stars, small and large side by side. It is also decorating the sides of the pool, as well as the minarets. You can also see – although faintly – the embellishments on the arches on the sides. We will see this in more details later.
This is the walkway leading up to the main hall. Note the same motif – the eight pointed stars – that was decorating the pool outside. Also noteworthy is the pierced wooden screen on the archways. you can see from the distance the twisting, swirling stairway that leads up to the main hall. The man in the middle is my father, for your information 🙂
I did not take this picture, for your information. The decoration of the floors continue in the same manner. Note the spiral columns – a nod to modern architecture? The double doors are huge, I ensure you. Note again, the eight pointed star decorating them. A wall of mosaic fills the arches above the doors in Zillij style. Also note the pieced screen niches.
I cannot obtain any pictures of the main prayer hall, because no photography was allowed. Maybe some other time I will take it. Look out for updates on this one!
This is one of the four minarets of the mosque. Again, the eight pointed star motif is apparent. The same decoration used for the floors is emulated on the minarets, wrapping around it. Observe that there are two different designs in between the levels of the minaret. One still utilizes the eight pointed stars, but in a straight manner. The stars are connected with lines to form another design. Another one is a cursive vegetal pattern. This is what the locals called the ‘Aing Muleh’ motif, the decoration still used bythe people here . the motif is also carried on to the crowning of the main building, above the arches and a yellow-and-grey design of geometric pattern (perhaps another eight pointed star motif) Also noteworthy, although unclear, the balustrades and the grills.
Sorry about the heavily photoshopped look and the poor quality, but I have to edit it accordingly to show the pattern and colour and I dont have a powerful camera ( I was using my 2MP camera phone.) That said, Let’s verge into the details.
This is the design that is on the arches that I pointed out in the first picture.I think the constructors doesnt have enough good skills to make this as good as the artisans in the Middle East, but great job whatsoever. The design is traditional – ten pointed star in the middle blossoms to a radial design that finishes up with arrows and five pointed stars. The colours used are light pinks, mint greens, blacks and yellows.
I will gradually udpdate this post as I have more pictures of this magnificent and majestic house of worship.