THE MOSQUES OF EGYPT
5.THE MAMLUK PERIOD, 648 - 923H. (1250- 1517 A.D.) .
17- THE KHANQA OF SULTAN BAYBARS AL- GASHANKIR 709H.(1310) . BAYBARS AL- GASHANKIR was one of the Mamluks of al- Mansur Qala'un, who bought him when a young man, raised him to the rank of Amir and made Gashankir (Taster, i.e. responsible for the safety of food, before it was presented to the King). He later became Ustadar, during the reign of an- Nasir Muhammad ibn Qala'un. He remained in this office until 708H.(1309) , when he assumed power on the dethronement of an- Nasir Muhammad. He chose the title of "al- Malik al- Muzaffar". His reign did not last long for he was killed in 709H.(1310). The mosque is part of the Khanqa which Baybars began to built in 706H.(1306/7) , before he assumed power, and completed in 709H.(1309/10). His work included a dome over his tomb. Next to the Khanqa, he built a large ribat, reached from within. He built this Khanqa on part of the site of the government buildings which had been erected by the Fatimid Wazir al- Afdal Shahinshah. The entrance in Shari' al- Gamaliya leads into a vestibule with two doors on the left; one opens into a corrridor that leads into the mausolum, and the other into another corridor leading into the open sahn of the mosque, which has an iwan at each end. The larger iwan, the qibla one, is covered with a tunnel vault, with an open shaft on each side, for ventilation. The other iwan is also covered with a vault, at the west end of which is another open shaft. The two sides of the sahn are occupied by cells with rooms above, the windows of which face the sahn. In the centre of each side is a musalla (a place for prayer). The mausoleum is paved with black and white marble and there is a dado of coloured marble, surmounted with a wooden band of inscriptions consisting of verses from the Qur'an. There is a huge mihrab, similar in size to that in Qala'un's mausoleum, although of less magnificence. The marble dado contains several built- in cupboards, some of which open into a passage in the wall, for ventilation and lighting purposes. The dome rests on pendentives composed of four tiers of stalactites, alternating with four groups of pierced stucco windows, decorated with coloured glass. The mausoleum is preceded on the west side, by a covered iwan, with a shukhshaikha (sky- light) over the centre. The mausoleum is separated from the iwan, by a wooden screen of turned lattice work (mashrabiya) , above the door of which is an inscription, with the name of the founder and the date of the completion of the khanqa, 709H. Although great care was taken in decorating the dome internally, it was left quite plain and simple externally, thus resembling the dome of as- Salih Negm ad- Din. The faade is formed by the entrance and one side of the mausoleum. The entrance is covered with a semi- circular arch with cushion voussoirs, the doorway being set back in a recess, lined with white marble, and covered with a hood, at the two corners of which are five tiers of stalactites. The door is flanked with niches, surmounted by a band of Qur'anic inscription. It is in two halves, plated with copper sheets of geometrical form, including panels, engraved and pierced with beautiful designs; bands of inscriptions including the name of the founder run above and below. The inner side of the door is divided into panels, decorated with beautiful designs, carved in the wood. The projecting part of the faade, corresponding to the mausoleum, is divided into a large recess flanked by two smaller ones. The middle recess has four tiers of stalactites at the top, and a large brass grille at the bottom, which has replaced that said to have been transported to Egypt from the 'Abbasid khalif's Place in Baghdad, during the Fatimid period. All along the faade runs a band of inscription, carved in the stone, consisting of verses from the Qur'an and the name of the founder, without the title "King", which was removed by order of an- Nasir Muhammad on his recovering the throne, after the murder of Baybars. The faade is crowned with stepped cresting. The minaret rises behind the entrance. It is of the type called mabkhara; adopted during the late VII and early VIII centuries H. The first storey of this minaret is square and ends with many tiers of stalactites supporting the gallery. The second storey is cylindrical and ends with a cornice of stalactites. The third storey is cylindrical also; it is covered with a ribbed dome which was once decorated with faience, part of which was only lately discovered. This feature is the first example of a minaret top so decorated. Plates 49- 52.