THE MOSQUES OF EGYPT
5.THE MAMLUK PERIOD, 648 - 923H. (1250- 1517 A.D.) .
25- THE MOSQUE OF SULTAN HASAN 757- 764H.(1356- 63) . THIS GREAT MOSQUE was built by Sultan Hasan ibn an- Nasir Muhammad ibn Qala'un. At the age of thirteen, he succeeded his brother al- Malik al- Muzaffar Haggi on the throne, in 748H. (1347). Owing to his youth, all government affairs were in the hands of the Amirs. On his coming of age, he became a tyrannical master. In 752H. (1351) he was put in prison, where he devoted his time to learning, but was re- enthroned in 755H. (1354) and continued to rule until he was killed in 762H. (1361). The construction of this mosque was begun in 757H. (1356) ; work proceeded uninterruptedly for three years, but the Sultan died before its completion. Bashir al- Gamdar, one of the Sultan's Amirs, finished it in 764H. (1363). The mosque is regarded as the most important of all Mamluk buildings, both as regards size and magnificence. The glory of this building lies in its fine craftsmanship and varied decoration, which may be observed in the stone work of the main entrance with its carved decoration, and wonderful stalactite hood. Fine marble work may be seen in the two dadoes of the mausoleum and qibla iwan with their two marble mihrabs, the minbar and the dikka, the framing of the entrances of the four madrasas which open into the sahn, and the joggled voussoirs of their entrance lintels. Fine arabesque woodwork and inlay may be observed in the kursi in the mausoleum. The brass plating of the mosque door, later transferred to the Mosque of al- Mu'aiyad, is one of the finest examples of its kind; it is carved in geometrical designs, including panels, beautifully carved and pierced. The door of the minbar is treated in the same fashion. One of the entrance doors to the mausoleum is original. It is plated with brass, inlaid with gold and silver, in beautiful designs. This is one of the finest examples of craftsmanship in the mosque and gives one an idea of the enormous sums of money that must have been spent on it. Even the brass and glass lamps that were manufactured for this mosque, of which a great number is at present preserved in the Museum of Arab Art in Cairo, are among the finest and most beautiful of their kind. This building was designed according to the cruciform madrasa plan. One enters a very large vestibule and turns to the left to enter a corridor leading to an open sahn, 32 X 34.60 m. The sahn is surrounded by four vaulted iwans, the largest of which is the sanctuary. In between the arms of the cross formed by the iwans are the four madrasas for teaching the four Muslim rites. Above the entrance of each is inscribed the following: "This was built by order of the martyr Sultan al- Malik an- Nasir Hasan ibn al- Malik an- Nasir Muhammad ibn Qala'un, in the months of the year 764H." Each madrasa has an open sahn and a qibla iwan. The sahn is surrounded by cells for students, in four storeys, the total height of which is the same as the rest of the mosque. In the centre of the sahn, over the ablution place, stands a dome on arches, supported by eight marble columns. A band of Qur'anic verses, running round the dome, ends with the date of its construction, 764H. The qibla iwan is lined with a marble dado, in the centre of which is the mihrab; to the right of it is the marble minbar, which is one of the very few marble minbars to be seen in mosques. Above the marble dado runs a band of Qur'anic inscriptions, carved in stucco and so elaborately decorated, that it may be considered the most beautiful of its kind. The position of the mausoleum in this mosque, differs from that adopted in other mosques. Here it stands behind the mihrab, whereas in the other mosques it occupies a corner; this feature appears here for the first time. Access to the mausoleum is obtained through two entrances flanking the mihrab. Of the two original entrance doors, only the right one remains, with its plating, inlaid in gold and silver; the left door has long since gone. The dome is 21 X 21m. and 48m. high. It was built in the XVIIth. century to replace the old one. At the corners are large timber stalactite pendentives, one of which has been painted to show what the original ones were like. A marble dado runs round the walls, to the height of 8m., crowned by a large wooden band of inscription, at the end of which is recorded the date on which the mausoleum was completed, 764H. This mosque has two important faades; the main faade, which is 150m. long, is divided into vertical recesses, with stalactites at the top, which frame the windows of the student's cells. This faade, as well as the eastern one and the main entrance, had a huge cornice of stalactites in several tiers, projecting about 1.50 m., and crowned with foliated cresting, which was removed in recent years to lighten the weight. The grand entrance, which is about 38m. high, is at the west end of this faade. It is distinguished for its stone carving, marble inlay and graceful stalacties in many tiers. The other faade is that overlooking the Midan Rumayla. The mausoleum forms the centre with the large minaret, 84m. high, to the left, and the smaller one, built in 1070H. (1659/60) , to the right. Plates 78- 90.