Upper interior surface of a room. Many different types of ceiling are found in Islamic architecture, including Coffering, Artesonado, and Muqarnas. Only fragments survive from a few wooden ceilings in the early hypostyle mosques of the central and western Islamic lands. Beams from the al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem (8th century; see Temple Mount (Jerusalem)) are carved with a great variety of vegetal, geometric, and architectural motifs. The Mosque of Ibn Tulun (879) in Cairo (see Cairo §III 2.) had a flat wooden ceiling with a narrow wooden frieze nailed to the top of the arcades supporting the roof. Measuring almost 2 km Córdoba §3, (i) in length, the frieze was inscribed with verses from the Koran. The wooden ceiling from the Great Mosque of Córdoba (see) as extended in the 960s and 980s was dismantled in the early 18th century and later replaced. The ceiling comprised closely placed transverse beams supporting planks, the whole protected by a gabled roof covered with tile to allow an insulating layer of air between ceiling and roof to keep the interior cool. More than 50 fragments of the carved and painted beams from the original ceiling have survived in museums (e.g., Copenhagen, Davids Saml. 2/...
[Arab. muqarnas; muqarnaṣ; muqarbaṣ; Sp. mocárabes]
Three-dimensional decorative device used widely in Islamic architecture, in which tiers of individual elements, including niche-like cells, brackets and pendants, are projected over those below (see fig.). Muqarnas decoration, executed in stucco, brick, wood and stone, was consistently applied to cornices, squinches, pendentives, the inner surfaces of vaults and other parts of buildings throughout the Islamic world from the 12th century. Seen from below, the muqarnas presents a stunning visual effect as light plays over the deeply sculpted but regularly composed surface; this explains the comparison of muqarnas in European languages with ‘stalactite vaulting’ (Ger. Stalaktitengewölbe) or ‘honeycombs’ (Fr. alvéoles). The Arabic term muqarnas first appears in the 12th century, but a related verb had been used a century earlier to describe deeply carved and moulded stucco ornament on Islamic architecture. It has been suggested and widely accepted that the word derives from the Greek koronis...
[Arab. bādahanj, malqaf; Pers. bādgīr]
Traditional form of natural ventilation and air-conditioning built on houses throughout the Middle East from North Africa to Pakistan. Constructed at least since the 2nd millennium