THE MOSQUES OF EGYPT
3.THE FATIMID PERIOD, 358 - 567H. (969- 1171 A.D.).
9- THE MOSQUE OF AS- SALIH TALA'I' 555H.(1160) . THIS MOSQUE, which stands just outside the Bab Zuwayla, was built by as- Salih Tala'i' ibn Ruzeik, Wazir of al- Fa'iz Bi- nasr- illah, the tenth Fatimid Khalif of Egypt, in 555H. (1160). The interior does not differ from that of previous mosques. It has an open sahn, surrounded by four roofed riwaqs, the largest, which is three aisles deep, being the sanctuary. The other three riwaqs are each one aisle deep. All the arches in this mosque are of the keel shape, built of bricks, and supported by marble columns. The four external walls are built of stone, faced internally with bricks, a unique feature. A band of inscription in decorated Kufic runs round the edge of the sancturay arches. The spandrels of these arches are decorated with a series of lobed medallions in stucco, surrounded with decorated borders. Over the arches are square windows of pierced stucco. The pulvins, below the sprining of the arches, as well as the tie- beams are carved with ornament. The ornament of the upper part of the qibla wall consists of a series of stucco windows, pierced with delicate designs, with coloured glass. A band of Kufic inscription runs round each window. The mihrab, in the middle of the wall, is quite simple and the hood is lined with painted wood. Next to the mihrab is a wooden minbar of fine workmanship, with an inscription over its door, attributing it to the Amir Bakhtimur al- Gukandar, 699H. (1299/300). It was this Amir who repaired the mosque during the reign of an- Nasir Muhammad ibn Qala'un. This is the fourth minbar in Egypt, in order of date. The mosque has three entrances, one in the centre of the north, west and south faade. The north and south entrances are set in a recess in a slightly projecting salient. This recess is covered by a keel- arch, the voussiors of which radiate from a window immediately above the entrance. These two faades are panelled, each panel having a pointed keel- arch. This scheme of panelling appears for the first time in this mosque, and was later copied in the Salihiya Madrasa, th Mausoleum of as- Salih Negm ad- Din and the Mamluk mosques which followed. The third entrance is in the west faade. It has a lintel with joggled voussoirs, with a relieving arch above. It once had a double woodn door, panelled on the inner side and carved with beautiful Fatimid ornament. The outer face is plated with copper in panels, pierced with Mamluk patterns; it is now kept in the Museum of Arab Art, and the present door of the mosque is an exact copy of it. This main entrance is under a riwaq of five keel arches, supported by marble columns. This riwaq, together with the room at either end, form the west faade of the mosque, the composition of which is unique. The faade of the two flanking chambrs are decorated with two recessed panels, each having a fluted shell- like hood. The flutes radiate from a round medallion, decorated with star polygons. There are remains of two bands of Kuifc inscription on the west and north faade, giving the names of al- Fa'iz Bi- nasr- illah and his Wazir as- Salih Tala'i', together with his titles, and the date of foundation, 555H. Its original minaret, which once stood over the main entrance, fell long ago and was replaced by another, which also fell about 1920. This is one of the so- called "suspended" mosques, which were built well above the street level, so as to provide a place for shops underneath. This mosque had, until recently, been in a terrible state of ruin, but the Department for the Preservation of Arab Monuments has thoroughly restored it. Plates 28- 31.