It seems that I have no posts at all for last week, so I am making another Imagining Islamic Aesthetics post, to supplement last weeks absence of post.
For this edition, I would like to put the spotlight on Domes – unlike the last one, this is regarding the interiors of domes.
As I have noted before, domes are the main feature of a mosque and most often, the focal point of the building. It is commonly situated over the main prayer hall hence the decorating it both inside and outside of the domes. Usually, the decoration is more intricate inside than outside because of weather corrosion factor and maintenance. Materials used for decorating the outer domes are usually brick and occasionally tiles, but with the interior there are a plethora of materials can be used – paint, tiles, mirror glass and even gold.
The interior of Sultan Ahmed Mosque in Istanbul, Turkey. The main dome is lavishly decorated and painted with gold coloured calligraphy arabesques and blue tiles – hence the other moniker of the mosque – The Blue Mosque. The cords are for chandeliers that hang from the ceiling, just a distance from the devotees, and suspended from the domes. There are some discolouration on the right side medal decoration : it is said that it was damaged and the tiles fallen off from their position in the 20th Century do to earthquake, but remained unrepaired.
Sheikh Zayed Mosque, Abu Dhabi, UAE. It is the largest mosque in the United Arab Emirates, and the eighth largest in the world. named after the first president of the UAE, Sheikh Zayed Sultan Al-Nahyan, who is also buried in the mosque. The religious building was opened in the Islamic month of Ramadhan 1427 Hijra, that is 2007AD. It holds multiple world records – World Largest Carpet and World’s Largest Chandelier, as can be seen here. The design of the mosque is an amalgamation of Mughal and Moorish architecture, design and decoration. Here you can see, other than the world record chandelier, the lavish decoration adorning the walls, in the form of carved Arabesques. The designs are utilized from the walls up to the ceilings and to the interior of the dome. Absence of colour makes the design stand out with the play of light and shadow.
Mosque of Ibn Tulun in Cairo, Egypt, completed in 265 AH/ 879AD. Comissioned by The Abbasid Governer of Egypt at that time, Ahmad Ibn Tulun, it is the oldest and the largest mosque in Cairo. It was constructed on a hill called Jabal Yashkur/Gebel Yashkur, literally means the Hill of Thanksgiving in Arabic, from the local legend saying that the Prophet Noah’s (Nuh in Arabic) Ark lies here after the Deluge instead on Mount Ararat. This is the interior of the dome of the central Sabil, or the ablution fountain situated in the middle of the courtyard of the Mosque. The structure itself have very little decoration, perhaps faded over time. Here you can see the usage of Muqarnas, utilizing small niches. Also some of the niches are cut as windows for the structure. You can also see the Mamluk era calligraphy decorating the circumference and the top of the dome.
Sayyidah Zaynab Mosque in Damascus Syria. This is a shrine dedicated to Zaynab, daughter of Fatimah and Ali, and the granddaughter of Prophet Muhammad. It is a shrine mainly used by the Shi’a sect of Islam. The dome of the shrine is made of pure gold, and directly beneath the dome is the tomb of Zaynab. It is maintained by mainly Iranians. The architecture of the shrine is mainly Central Asian in nature, echoing the other Shi’a shrines in Iran or Iraq. While the exterior of the dome is extravagant enough, the interior is not unimpressive. Tiles in floral motifs, in blue and red colours decorate most of the dome, with turquoise center. Calligraphy decorate the circumference in cobalt and white.