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The Minbar from the Kutubiyya Mosque

Jonathan Bloom, "The Minbar from the Kutubiyya Mosque"
English | 1998 | ISBN: 0870998544 | PDF | pages: 130 | 30 mb

One of the most accomplished works ever created by Islamic craftsmen, the minbar from the Kutubiyya mosque, Marrakesh, was begun about 1137 in Cordoba, a center of Andalusian arts and letters. This pulpit, which had been commissioned by the last Almoravid sultan, All ibn Yusuf, for his congregational mosque, soon became renowned throughout the western Islamic lands for its great artistry and beauty. It was so prized, in fact, that when the Almohads conquered Marrakesh in 1147 and destroyed 'All's mosque, they preserved the minbar for their new mosque. In 1381, an anonymous historian called it "a monumental minbar ... of perfect accomplishment," equaled only by the one in the Great Mosque of Cordoba (destroyed in the sixteenth century).

For more than eight hundred years, this work of supreme religious, historical, and artistic significance has remained a national treasure of Morocco. Its decorative scheme, which employs intricately carved wood panels and inlaid bone decoration covering every visible surface, is both traditional (in its reliance on previous examples) and startlingly original (in its sophisticated technique and vibrant rhythmic pattern). Its influence was felt for centuries, ultimately finding expression in the intarsia technique of Renaissance Italy, of which the Gubbio Studiolo, recently reinstalled at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, is an outstanding example.

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Tags: Minbar, Kutubiyya, Mosque

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