Table of Contents
In this chapter I collect and extend conclusions about the major concern of this research: how the role of the individual architect, master mason, or artisan affects the development of regional styles and their interaction; that is to say, how the abstract observations of formal analysis can be tied to the concrete circumstances of a building's creation. It should be no surprise that the fundamental conclusion to be drawn is that the engine of change for Ayyûbid architecture was the movement of architects occasioned by the requirements of their patrons.
This section lists all the architects of the time and area under study who are known by name or are identifiable as individuals from their works, and who worked on buildings for Muslim patrons—for completeness, this includes a larger group of buildings than I have considered in this study. I have drawn the northern limit of the area under study roughly along the Euphrates, ignoring for now the Ayyûbid occupation of Diyârbakr and the work of Halabî architects in Anatolia. I have not found any of the names given here to have occurred in Anatolian inscriptions. I have included several anonymous architects whose existence is clear from their works, and omitted several dubious cases. The total, perhaps surprisingly, comes to almost three dozen men.1
Minaret of the Great Mosque, Aleppo, 482–87/1089–94.
Mihrab of the Maqâm Ibrâhîm, Sâlihîn, Aleppo, 505/1112. Included here because the mihrab is of masonry.
Southern Minaret of the Great Mosque of Hamâh, 529/1134–35; the inscription is or was on the south (exterior) face, on the end of a column laid perpendicular to the surface of the minaret, into the masonry; it is dated by reference to the inscription nearby identifying the patron.2
Madrasah al-Halâwîyah, Aleppo, 543/1149; Bîmâristân of Nûr al-Dîn, Aleppo, 543–49/1148–55; Madrasah al-Shu`aybîyah, Aleppo, 545/1150–51; Madrasah al-Muqaddamîyah, Aleppo, 545/1150–51.
Bîmâristân of Nûr al-Dîn, Damascus, 549/1154.
Mu'ayyad al-Dîn was probably not an architect, but I include him in this list because he was a renowned engineer and had training in woodworking and stonemasonry. I have commented on his milieu and education in “Imagining Paradise in Islamic Art,” from which I reproduce here a translation from Muwaffaq al-Dîn Abu'l-`Abbâs Ahmad Ibn Abî Usaybi`ah, author of a biography of physicians:
Abu'l-Fadl b. `Abd al-Karîm al-muhandis (engineer, geometer). He was Mu'ayyad al-Dîn Abu'l-Fadl Muhammad b. `Abd al-Karîm b. `Abd al-Rahmân al-Hârithî. He was born and grew up in Damascus. He was called al-muhandis for the excellence of his knowledge of engineering (handasah) and his reputation for it before he forsook it for the medical profession. At the beginning [of his career] he was taught carpentry and stonecutting also, and was won by the profession of carpentry. He was influential in it and many people sought after his works. Most of the gates (abwâb) of the great hospital (bîmâristân) that al-Malik al-`Ādil Nûr al-Dîn b. Zangî founded are his workmanship.3 I was told by S[h]adîd al-Dîn b. Raqîqah:
I was told by Shams al-Dîn b. al-Mutawâ` the oculist, who was his friend, that the beginning of his interest in science (`ilm) was when he studied Euclid (Auqlîdus) to improve the excellence of his carpentry, master its [geometry's] details, and gain freedom in applying them. [Shams al-Din] continued: it was in those days that he worked in (ya`amala fî) the mosque (masjid) of the Khâtûn that is below the spring of al-Munayba` west of Damascus.4
Every day as he travelled to the site he would memorize something from Euclid, and also unravel something of it on his way. When he was not occupied with work he studied the book of Euclid until he comprehended it perfectly and became skilled in it. Then he studied similarly the book of al-Majasatî and began reading it, and he unravelled it and turned his attention to the profession of engineering (handasah) and discovered in it a good omen.
He also busied himself with astronomy (sanâ`at al-nûjûm) and constructing astronomical tables (zîjât). And at that time the eminent al-Tûsî 5 had arrived in Damascus, and he was distinguished in geometry (handasah) and the mathematical sciences (al-`ulûm al-riyâdîyah). There no other like him in his age, and [Mu'ayyad al-Dîn] joined him and studied under him and learned many things from his [store of] knowledge.
He also studied the profession of medicine with Abu'l-Majd Muhammad b. Abu'l-Hakim, who persuaded him of the truth of remaining and abrogation [relating to Qur'ânic verses]. He wrote many books about the sciences of medicine and the profession of medicine. Among his writings are sixteen books about Jâlînûs (Galen). And he had studied it under Abu'l-Majd Muhammad b. Abu'l-Hakim. …
It was he who rebuilt the clocks (al-sâ`ât) at the Great Mosque (al-jâmi`) of Damascus. He declined pay for this. … [His medical career is described.] He was greatly respected in the medical profession. … He had travelled to Egypt and heard [learned] some hadîths at Iskandarîyah (Alexandria) in 572 and 573 (1176–78) from Rashîd al-Dîn Abu'l-Thanâ' Hammâd b. Hibbat Allâh b. Hammâd b. al-Fadîl al-Harrânî and from Abu'l-tâhir Ahmad b. Muhammad b. Ahmad b. Muhammad b. Ibrâhîm al-Silafî al-Isfahânî. He also studied secular literature (adab) and the science of grammar (`ilm al-nahw), and composed poetry; there are some fine pieces of his. He died in 599/1202–03 in Damascus, at about seventy.6
Ridwân ibn Sâ`âtî, whose father built the clock in question, was not so complimentary. According to Donald R. Hill,
In his introduction [to his Book on the Construction of Clocks and on their Use] Ridwân mentions the unsuccesful efforts of three men to repair the clock before he took the work in hand himself. … [Of one he says that] “he ruined mechanism after mechanism”.
Other attempts were made by Abû'l-Fadl b. al-Karîm al-Muhandis … . Ridwân says that he first had a high opinion of Abû'l-Fadl's learning, but that in conversations with him, for instance on astronomy, he found him to be slow in understanding and in solving problems. He says that he ruined the clock completely, so that none of its parts was in order.
7 Ridwân seems not to have held any of his rivals in high regard, so the force of his criticisms is hard to gauge.
Khanâqâh of Sunqurjah, Aleppo, 554/1159. The now-lost foundation inscription recorded the foundation and endowment of a ribât during the reign of Nûr al-Dîn by one of his amirs, Sunqurjâh (or Sunqur Shâh), in 554/1159. At the end of it, as recorded, are the words: “`Īsâ b. `Alî built it (sana`ahu).” This section, directly following the date, may have been a separate inscription below the inscription containing the foundation text, dividing the two pieces of information in the same way as in the portal of the Madrasah al-Shâdhbakhtîyah. It gives us the name of the architect, `Īsâ ibn `Alî, and identifies the building as a ribât, although the historical sources call it a khânaqâh. These two terms do not seem to have implied different functions.8
Unidentified work at Masyaf, dated 560–69/1164–65.9
Lower Maqâm Ibrâhîm, 563/1167–68; Madrasah al-Shâdhbakhtîyah, 589/1193; and possibly the undated Masjid al-Khwâjah. Qâsim was active already under the Zangids.
Thâbit's is the longest and most distinguished career I can trace among Ayyûbid architects. For Nûr al-Dîn he built the qiblah wall of Great Mosque, Aleppo, 564–65/1169–70, and probably the courtyard facades, at the same time. He may have signed the portal of the castle of Bâniyâs in 567/1171–72. The work was ordered by an unnamed man whose titulature was al-amîr al-kabîr al-muwaffaq … al-ghâzî fî sabîl Allâh nâsir amîr, and the signature gives the name of the architect in short form as Abu'l-Fadl.10 Although the titulature does not match Nûr al-Dîn's, the castle was built for Nûr al-Dîn, for whom Thâbit worked. Because it is close to Damascus, where I believe he was active about the same time, and because it is a fortification, and Thâbit worked on fortifications later, I think it safe to attribute it to him. He also built: Madrasah al-`Ādilîyah, Damascus, 568/1172–73; undated portal of the Bîmâristân Arghûn, Aleppo; Aleppo Citadel Entry, 588–600/1192–1204; Dâr al-`Izz, Aleppo Citadel, before 589/1193; Mashhad al-Husayn, Aleppo, 592/1195–96. He died in 600/1203–04 in the collapse of the Aleppo Citadel entry, then under construction. He might even have been responsible for the Dâr al-`Adl in Aleppo and the overall scheme of redevelopment of the Citadel and its fortifications.
Tower of the Citadel (Temple of Baal) of Palmyra, 573/1177, the work ordered by the amir Abû `Abd Allâh Muhammad b. Shîrkûh b. Shâdhî.11
Portal to the Jâmî` al-`Umarî, Hamâh, 584/1188–89, dated by reference to the other two inscriptions (RCEA, nos. 3432 and 3433, pp. 164–65); the patron was Najm al-Dîn Altûtân b. Yârûq.12
Madrasah al-Sharafîyah, first campaign, before 601/1205, the date of his death. By date and name, he could have been the father of Yûsuf b. Abû Bakr.
Mashhad al-Muhassin, Aleppo, 594/1197–98; Madrasah Abu'l-Fawâris, Ma`arat al-Nu`mân, 595/1199; Great Mosque Minaret, Ma`arat al-Nu`mân, 595–97/1199–1200; Turbah Ibn al-Muqaddam, Damascus, 597/1200; North Tower, Citadel, Busrâ, 612/1215; North Gate, Citadel, Damascus, 613–15/1216–18.
To synopsize Qâhir b. `Alî's career: between 595 and 597/1199 and 1200 he worked for the ruler of Hamâh, al-Malik al-Mansûr Muhammad, building major monuments in Ma`arat al-Nu`mân, close by the home town of his family. Just a few years later, he was in Damascus to build the Turbah Ibn al-Muqaddam, possibly on his own, as the masonry finish is completely alien to Damascus. This may have been as early as 597/1200, the year when Fakhr al-Dîn ibn al-Muqaddam died and the year when al-Malik al-Mansûr Muhammad lost Ma`arat al-Nu`mân. Qâhir b. `Alî remained in the service of his former patron, however: when al-Malik al-`Ādil called upon his subordinates to aid in the construction of the Citadel of Damascus, al-Malik al-Mansûr Muhammad built a tower, and Qâhir b. `Alî may well have worked on it, probably at the same time that he was working for another supervisor (but also for al-Malik al-`Ādil) on the fortifications at Busrâ. Perhaps he was sent first to Busrâ, but the connection with his patron is stronger at Damascus; I imagine him at work there for some time before the North Gate was built. The Citadel at Busrâ was begun first, by a few months, but the projects must have been planned together.13
It is possible that he came to Damascus in 599/1202–03, when work was begun on both of the citadels, and that he then undertook the Turbah Ibn al-Muqaddam as a side project. His work on the two citadels ran as late as 615/1218.
To be considered in connection with these monuments is an inscription, set in a molded frame and bordered by three relief bosses with involved geometric patterns, at Afâmîyah, the ancient fortress forty kilometers northwest of Hamâh, on the Orontes.14 The bosses are like those of the portal of the madrasah at Ma`arat al-Nu`mân, but the frame (with typically Aleppan pointed ovals in the corners) is not. Afâmîyah, though south of Ma`arat al-Nu`mân, belonged to Aleppo, and the inscription is in the name of al-Malik al-Zâhir Ghâzî, dated 602/1205–06. I do not see how to attribute this yet.
Citadel of Palmyra (outside the town), first period, perhaps around 597/1200. The Polish archaeological investigation of this castle, published by Janusz Bylinski, established a chronology of phases but discovered no more reliable evidence for dating than pottery.15 Ibrâhîm's name was found on an unspecified stone(?) probably from the first period of construction, in an inscription said to read “one of the building works of Ibrâhîm b. Yaqûb.”16 Bylinski dates the earliest pottery from the mid-twelth to mid-thirteenth centuries, and on that basis reasonably assigns the first phase of the building to al-Malik al-Mujâhid Asad al-Dîn Shîrkûh II, who held an area from Homs to the Euphrates from 581–637/1186–1240, over half a century. Palmyra was never threatened by the Crusaders, so the castle was probably built to defend against other Ayyûbids. There are so many occasions upon which Shîrkûh II might have found a reason to fortify Palmyra in this fashion that my choice of date is largely arbitrary; it is related to al-Malik al-Zâhir's efforts to establish greater control over northern Syria to oppose Damascus, and is earlier rather than later in Shîrkûh II's reign.17
Northwest tower of the Busrâ Citadel, 599/1202–03, built under the supervision of the governor of Busrâ, Sunqur al-Tughrultakînî. 18
Minaret of the Great Mosque at Bâlis, 607/1211.19
Inscription at Mount Tabor, 609/1212–13. The Répertoire questions the first name. The construction is identified only as a makân, but the inscription is of interest for its patron, `Izz al-Dîn Aybak. 20
East Gate, Citadel, Damascus, 610/1213–14.
Maqâm of Shaykh Fâris, 601/1205; Madrasah al-Zâhirîyah, Aleppo, 610/1213–14; Upper Maqâm Ibrâhîm, Aleppo, 610/1213–14; Mashhad al-Husayn, North Wing, Aleppo, 613/1216 or after (see stylistic arguments for the connection). By date and name, he could have been the son of `Abd al-Salâh Abû Bakr.
Unidentified work at Qal`at Najm, inscription undated but apparently belonging to the campaign of 605–12/1208–16, for al-Malik al-Zâhir. This is the only case I have found in which the name ends with the phrase identifying a royal master, as if Ibn Ibrâhîm were a mamlûk; the verb used, sana`a, indicates that the man was a builder or architect, not a superintendent. 21
Reconstruction of the courtyard of the Jâmi` al-`Umarî, Busrâ, 618/1221–22, The patron was `Īsâ b. `Alî b. Hunayd. Possibly `Ubayd was a marbleworker rather than an architect, and the inscription records a repaving project.22
The Masjid al-Dabbâghah in Busrâ, 622/1225–26, founded by the amîr Shams al-Dîn Sunqur b. `Abd Allâh al-Sâlihî, known as al-Hâkimî.23
Khân at Bâniyâs, 623/1226, for al-Malik al-`Azîz `Uthmâ, son of al-Malik al-`Ādil, supervised by Hamadîyah(?) b. Khidr b. Junabah al-Malikî al-`Azîzî. The names of both the architect and the supervisor are indicated as uncertain by the Répertoire.24
Madrasah al-Ruknîyah extra muros, Damascus, 624/1227, possibly; Madrasah al-Atabakîyah, Damascus, after 626/1229; Jâmi` al-Taubah, Damascus, 632/1234–35; Madrasah al-Sâhibah, Damascus, 630–643/1233–45; Turbah Amat al-Latîf, Damascus, 643/1245–46.
South Tower, Shayzar, 630/1233 (signed Ustâdh `Alî);25 Khân al-`Itna, before 631/1233–34 (signed Ustâdh `Alî b. Khalîfah). 631 is the date of death of the founder, Rukn al-Dîn Minkuvirish, who also built the Madrasah al-Ruknîyah extra muros.26
Madrasah al-Sharafîyah, second campaign, after 631/1233–34; Madrasah al-Karîmîyah, Aleppo, 631/1233–34 or 654/1256.
Restoration of the Great Mosque of Latakia, 633/1235–36, for Badr al-Dîn Aydamir.27
Madrasah al-Kâmilîyah, Aleppo, undated; Madrasah al-Firdaus, Aleppo, 633-40/1235–42.
With `Umar b. Ibrâhîm and Siddîq b. Yaghmûr, mosque in the Citadel (Temple of Baal) of Palmyra, 635/1237–38.28
With al-Nâsih Yûsuf b. Mu[…] and `Umar b. Ibrâhîm, mosque in the Citadel (Temple of Baal) of Palmyra, 635/1237–38.29
With al-Nâsih Yûsuf b. Mu[…] and Siddîq b. Yaghmûr, mosque in the Citadel (Temple of Baal) of Palmyra, 635/1237–38.30
`Alam al-Dîn Qaysar b. Abu'l-Qâsim b. `Abd al-Ghanî b. Musâfir al-Hânafî, called Ta`âsîf or Ta`âsîfî, at Hamah, a mill on the Orontes and towers in the walls; and a palace in Râs al-`Āyn. Because he is of special interest, I have written a short biography, to be found in the appendix, `Alam al-Dîn Qaysar.
Citadel of Azraq, 634/1236–37, for the amir Abu'l-Fadâ'il `Izz al-Dîn Aybak al-Mu`azzamî, ustâdhdâr, or majordomo of al-Malik al-Mu`azzam `Īsâ, patron of the Madrasah al-`Izzîyah.
Unknown building in Homs built for its lord, Al-Malik al-Mujâhid Asad al-Dîn Shîrkûh II, presumably during his reign there, 581–637/1186–1240, according to an inscription no longer in situ found by Lorenz Korn.31
Bîmâristân al-Qaymarî, Damascus, 646–5X/1248–5X; Unidentified Madrasah, Damascus, undated.
Madrasah al-Qilîjîyah, Damascus, 645–51/1247–54.
Madrasah al-Zâhirîyah, Damascus, 676/1277–78, included here for continuity; his inscription on the portal calls him a muhandis.32
Figure 1. Damascus Citadel, shell-headed window frame, south exterior of Tower 3.
The Citadels of Damascus and Busrâ are invaluable testimony to the participation of various architects. Taken together they help to establish the career of Qâhir b. `Alî and the Citadel of Damascus all by itself shows the work not only of Qâhir b. `Alî but, at the same time, the East Gate Architect. The two citadels are very different in history and overall plan, and the larger towers at Busrâ have no counterpart in Damascus. While each citadel was built by a large crew, including several architects, over a period of some years, it is probable that each was planned at one time, by one team, or possibly one man. While it is tempting to attribute individual towers to individual architects when a signature or distinctive detail appears in one of them, it is also probable that signatures and details indicate only participation, not full responsibility for design.
Thus, for example, the curious shell-headed window frame on the exterior of Tower 3, in the center of the south side of the Damascus Citadel—a tower that may bear an inscription of Qâhir b. `Alî—is probably a signature piece of the East Gate Architect because of its great plasticity. (The frame is certainly in situ, and is not an architectural fragment: the undersides of what look like muqarnas capitals bear rosettes in relief, showing that the “capitals” were never associated with columns.) Likewise it would be stretching the evidence to attribute all of the Ayyûbid phases of Tower 7 of the Damascus Citadel to the East Gate Architect, or of Tower 10 to Qâhir b. `Alî. (Still, the oculi in the east exterior of Tower 7, and the reused Ayyûbid inscription frame in the east exterior of Tower 8,33 are details worth remembering.)
Figure 2. Damascus Citadel, inscription frame, east exterior of Tower 8.
Much comparative work remains to be done on these two citadels, along with other castles of the age of the Crusades.34
The plasticity of the East Gate Architect's work is a match for that of Thâbit b. Shaqwayq, and were it not that Thâbit died before either the East Gate or the south tower was built, I would be tempted to attribute them to him. But the evidence as I have construed it shows that there were two masters of the Ornamented Style working at the same time—and that Qâhir b. `Alî was yet another artistic personality, lacking entirely the gift of plasticity.
Although many buildings of the eleventh and twelfth centuries are lost, both literary sources and the increased bulk of late Zangid and early Ayyûbid buildings indicate that there was a large increase in the volume of stone quarried and dressed for construction after Nûr al-Dîn began his program of civil, religious, and military building. As the volume of construction grew, building a wall of stone should have become cheaper, encouraging yet larger civil buildings, at the same time military fortifications were increasing in bulk in response to advances in artillery (see Chapter Seven..
As a result of the increased scale of quarrying, stone was supplied to builders in the big cities in courses of increasingly consistent height; this consistency is shown off in Damascus in the use of ablaq for entire facades. Ablaq also required the coordinated exploitation of multiple quarries.
Also in Damascus, as few specially shaped or specially carved stones as possible were used, except in the work of Thâbit b. Shaqwayq. Moldings were sparse and carved decoration was confined to stones that had to be cut to measure anyway, such as lintels and relieving arches. This points toward decoration at the quarry.
In the muqarnas portals of the Atabakîyah Architect, which are exceedingly close in design, the work of several hands can be discerned, indicating that at this date the master mason was not necessarily the same as the architect.
At the same time the brick vaulters of Damascus maintained an unbroken and almost unchanged construction tradition from the beginning of the Zangid period to the end of the Ayyûbid age; the same is largely true of plasterworkers, too.
With regard to the architects, I believe the evidence shows a progressive professionalization of the trade of architectural design throughout the Ayyûbid period, which is consistent with the increase in the volume of construction.
The pattern of employment of a professional architect is very important to the issue of regional style. In Ayyûbid Damascus at least two architects trained in the Aleppan regional style worked, Qâhir b. `Alî b. Qânit and the Thâbit b. Shaqwayq, and Qâhir b. `Alî's career shows that military construction projects at times took architects far from home.
The immense volume of military construction, at various sites that were often far from other construction projects, implies the creation and maintenance of large teams of quarrymen, master masons, masons, laborers, and, perhaps, architects, too. But castles generally resemble their regional traditions, as is only natural, and the mechanisms of administration of these military projects, along with their effects on style, need further study.
In this study I have discussed, identified, or postulated employment of certain architects, whether known by name or not, and their patrons. Some of these relationships were known previously. Here I am concerned with those architects who are either known by name or identifiable by their distinctive works, and I shall treat each of the patrons in turn. I have not attempted to correlate architects with supervisors of construction, as I have not noticed any strong pattern; perhaps another investigator can find one.
The earliest patronage relationship within the time and space boundaries of this study is the construction of the minaret of the Great Mosque of Aleppo by Hasan b. Mufarraj al-Sarmînî for Abu'l-Hasan b. al-Khashshâb, the city's chief judge. According to the historical sources this project was begun before the Saljûq governor, Āq Sunqûr, knew anything of it. Hasan was connected either by family or locale with the building trade, as Fahd b. Salmân al-Sarmînî, possibly a cousin, to judge by his name, built a stone mihrab at the Maqâm Ibrâhîm at Sâlihîn in 505/1112.
About Hasan's relationship with Abu'l-Hasan b. al-Khashshâb we can know little, except that that, plausibly, Hasan had already designed large buildings, perhaps even for this same patron, else the project would not have been conceived and he would not have been entrusted with it. The durability of his work further confirms this inference. In the political circumstances of the day, the local religious establishment may have been much more closely involved in the construction and repair of religious buildings than the Saljûq governor.
I have discussed Nûr al-Dîn's patronage in Chapter Two, s.v. “The Business of Architecture.” and “Nûr al-Dîn's Architects.” To summarize that discussion, Nûr al-Dîn built both civil and military architecture, and employed architects in, among other places, Aleppo (after 541/1146), Damascus (after 549/1154), and various places of military importance. I think it probable that he had a budget for architectural projects, but that the spending of it was heavily constrained by damage to existing monuments caused by earthquakes (as in 565/1170) and other unforeseen requirements to repair and reinforce castles and fortifications.
I shall consider these architects in chronological sequence.
I am confident that Sa`îd al-Muqaddasî, who signed the Madrasah al-Shu`aybîyah, designed the other three buildings in Aleppo that Nûr al-Dîn built at the same time, all between 543 and 545/1149–51; this work involved serious aesthetic design issues.
On account of its Mesopotamian connections, particularly its muqarnas vault, I have assigned the Bîmâristâ of Nûr al-Dîn in Damascus, built in 549/1154, soon after Nûr al-Dîn came to Damascus, to a Mesopotamian or Jazîran architect. Possibly I am wrong about this, and only the vault itself should be so attributed, but in either event some non-Syrian builder was involved in this monument.
I have not connected the Madrasah al-Nûrîyah with the architect of any other monument, though conceivably it could be given to Sa`îd al-Muqaddasî or even the architect of the Bîmâristân of Nûr al-Dîn in Damascus.
Thâbit b. Shaqwayq, to use a short form of his name, worked for Nûr al-Dîn on the very important project to restore the qiblah wall of the Great Mosque of Aleppo twenty years after Sa`îd al-Muqaddasî, in 565/1169–70; this project was first and foremost an engineering matter and required little if any decoration. He may also have worked on the castle of Bâniyâs, where the portal bears an inscription of Nûr al-Dîn dated 567/1171–72. I have also attributed to him the Madrasah al-`Adilîyah, Damascus, originally designed in 568/1172–73 although it was finished much later, on account of its use of the Ornamented Style and conclusion reached in connection with his later work, for which see below.
Qâhir b. `Alî worked in Ma`arat al-Nu`mân for its ruler, al-Malik al-Mansûr Muhammad b. Tâqî al-Dîn `Umar, building the Madrasah Abu'l-Fawâris, and the minaret of the Great Mosque. Qâhir b. `Alî then went to Damascus and Busrâ in the late 590's/ca. 1200 to work on al-Malik al-`Ādil's castles there. He may have left Ma`arat al-Nu`mân as early as 597/1200, when al-Malik al-Mansûr Muhammad lost the city to al-Malik al-Zâhir. Qâhir b. `Alî also worked in Aleppo on the Mashhad al-Muhassin before his stint in Ma`arat al-Nu`mân, I believe, and after leaving Ma`arat al-Nu`mân he built a tomb in Damascus for Fakhr al-Dîn b. al-Muqaddam. Qâhir b. `Alî may have stayed in Ma`arat al-Nu`mân only a few years, leaving for work in Damascus either under orders from al-Malik al-Zâhir or to avoid his jurisdiction. It does not appear possible to determine more about the nature of his relationship with al-Malik al-Mansûr.
Following his work for Nûr al-Dîn, for which see above, Thâbit b. Shaqwayq built for al-Malik al-Zâhir his finest buildings: the Dâr al-`Izz in the Aleppo Citadel, the Aleppo Citadel entry, and the Mashhad al-Husayn's courtyard complex and portal. Presumably about the same time he built for an unidentified patron the Bîmâristân Arghûn. Thâbit, plausibly, was renowned by the time of Nûr al-Dîn's death, and clearly was al-Malik al-Zâhir's chief architect; it would be interesting to determine how he made the transition from the patronage of the one to the patronage of the other ruler.
To the anonymous Atabakîyah architect I give the Madrasah al-Ruknîyah extra muros, the Madrasah al-Atabakîyah, the Jâmi` al-Taubah, the Madrasah al-Sâhibah, and the Turbah Amat al-Latîf, all built in Damascus between 624/1227 and 643/1245–46. His patrons were Rukn al-Dîn Minkuvirish, an important figure in the administration of al-Malik al-`Ādil and a man who employed many architects, if only in his role as supervisor of construction; Tarkân Khâtûn bint `Izz al-Dîn Mas`ûd b. Qutb al-Dîn Maudûd b. Zangî b. Aksonqur, wife of al-Malik al-Ashraf Muzaffar al-Dîn Abu'l-Fath Mûsâ b. al-Malik al-`Ādil; al-Malik al-Ashraf, ruler of Damascus, himself; Rabî`ah Khâtûn, sister of Salâh al-Dîn and Sitt al-Shâm; and Amat al-Latîf bint al-Nâsih b. al-Hanbalî, intimate of Rabî`ah Khâtûn. Aside from Rukn al-Dîn and Amat al-Latîf, this is perhaps the most interesting collection of patrons, as it shows that the same man would be given work not only by a ruler but also by his relations and by some of their prominent servants residing in the same city. Other architects almost certainly had similarly connected circles of patrons; in the case of Thâbit the patron of the Bîmâristân Arghûn must have been an important amir.
Even the richest Ayyûbid princes and princesses who had lived in Mesopotamia adopted the Damascene style for their buildings when they came to Damascus and built there. With only a few exceptions (the Turbah Ibn al-Muqaddam, for example) only the rulers used exotic styles.
The basic mechanism for the exchange of architectural ideas and designs and design systems between Aleppo, Damascus, and Cairo appears to be that a major patron, almost always a ruler, imports or brings with him when he comes in, an architect from an exotic region.
Nûr al-Dîn came to Aleppo from the Jazîrah, and as he later employed a Jazîran or Mesopotamia or Mosuli architect for his muqarnas vaults in Damascus, he may already have employed such a master in Aleppo.
Of course the first Damascene muqarnas is over Nûr al-Dîn's tomb, and he may have imported a specialist on the occasion of its construction. I cannot find among the building he is known to have built in Aleppo any candidate for his tomb, and perhaps he always intended to be buried closer to Jerusalem than northern Syria.
But the earliest stone muqarnas we have is in Aleppo, built soon after Nûr al-Dîn's death, and it must be an early example of the stone muqarnas adapted from the plaster muqarnas. Its form comfirms this assumption: it has the simplest possible muqarnas geometry and uses regular forms, except at the lower ends of the pendentives.
It would is reasonable to assume that Nûr al-Dîn built plaster muqarnases in Aleppo, too (perhaps that is why the muqarnas was copied in stone first in Aleppo). These may have been in his Palace in the Citadel, the Dâr al-Dhahâb, or the large and elaborate Khânaqâh al-Qadîm he built at the foot of the Citadel (which had a dome for the Sufis and a very large portal), or in his Palace of Justice, the Dâr al-`Adl, next door to the Khânaqâh.35 The Dâr al-`Adl seems a very likely prospect to me, as it was an innovation of Nûr al-Dîn's closely linked to his public image as al-Malik al-`Ādil, “The Just King.” It would have been a good place to show off an exotic technique; so too would the Dâr al-`Adl he built in Damascus.
A separate series of stone muqarnases could have arisen in Damascus by parallel copying of plaster muqarnases, but in the event it appears that Nûr al-Dîn brought with him from Aleppo two Aleppan architects, the vaulter of the Madrasah al-Nûrîyah al-Kubrâ and Thâbit b. Shaqwayq, who brought with him the new Aleppan stone muqarnas. (Was the stone muqarnas created in Aleppo after the muqarnas plasterworker moved to Damascus? Was it previously unneeded in Damascus because the original plaster version was available?)
The muqarnas in stone was then naturalized in Damascus, where architecture developed with little further Aleppan influence. Following the death of Nûr al-Dîn, Thâbit took Damascene ablaq to Aleppo, where it appears in all his works there except the upper entry block.
Baybars, too, imported an exotic, a Shami architect, for his madrasah in Cairo, and it is only with his works that Syrian devices begin to appear in Cairene architecture in earnest, eventually transforming it. But he did not have this man already in his employ. Baybars was not a patron of architecture before his accession to power; afterwards he went everywhere and built everywhere, and he must have employed many architects in a more comprehensive system than any Ayyûbid prince had ever developed.36
So it is only historical chance that Nûr al-Dîn moved from Mesopotamia to Aleppo to Damascus, trailing architects along with him; another sequence would have produced another pattern of stylistic change within Syrian stone architecture, at least. It may well have taken a rich patron familiar with exotic architecture to create any demand at all for such things in a big city like Damascus, and so perhaps if no Mesopotamian monarch had ever ruled Syria after 1000 there would be no Syrian stone muqarnas; the Damascenes and the Aleppan would have gone on blissfully content with their own regional forms.
The twin engines of change in Ayyûbid architecture, then, are the expansion of the construction industry brought about by the Crusades and the out-of-place monument, built by the out-of-place architect.
1. Some of these men were known as muhandis, or, broadly, “engineer.” For the use of the term in the Mamlûk period, and some Mamlûk engineers, see Doris Behrens-Abouseif, “Muhandis, Shâ, Mu`allim—Note on the Building Craft in the Mamluk Period,” Der Islam, v. 72, 1995, pp. 293–309.
2. Mayer, Islamic Architects, p. 57; RCEA, v. 8, p. 196, no. 3074.
3. Misattributed by Gülru Necipoğlu to the Ayyûbid al-Malik al-`Ādil, The Topkapı Scroll—Geometry and Ornament in Islamic Architecture, p. 152; however, note Necipoğlu's remarks loc. cit. on carpentry as as attribute of both geometers and architects. For an earlier translation of this passage see Heinrich Suter, Die Mathematiker und Astronomen der Araber und ihre Werke, no. 319, pp. 129–30.
4. This is the large, lost mosque of the Bûrid Zumurrud Khâtûn (not Sitt al-Shâm) near San`â' of Damascus, about two kilometers west of the walled city on the southern Sharaf, an important job. See Ibn `Asâkir, trans., p. 168 (in n. 3, which cites sources for this Zumurrad Khâtûn, Elisséeff unaccountably turns this mosque into a madrasah); Nu`aymî, al-Dâris, v. 2, p. 358; `Ilmawî–Nu`aymî, Mukhtasar, trans., JA, ser. 9, v. 6, November–December 1895, p. 463 (note also the later mosque below al-Munayba`, nearby). Ibn Shaddâd, Al-A`lâq al-khatîrah, (Damascus section), pp. 151–52, lists other buildings apparently constructed by her household.
5. Evidently not Nasîr al-Dîn al-Tûsî, 597–672/1201–74; possibly Sharaf al-Dîn al-Muzaffar b. Muhammad b. al-Muzaffar al-Tûsî (Suter's choice), on whom see Ibn Khallikân, trans., v. 3, p. 470.
6. `Uyûn al-anbâ' fî tabaqât al-attibâ', ed. Müller, v. 2, pp. 190–91. Ibn Abi Usaybi`ah was born after 590/1194, and this work dates from 640/1242, with a revision in 667/1268.
7. Arabic Water-Clocks, p. 70. For Ridwân see also Suter, op. cit., no. 343, pp. 136–37.
8. Herzfeld, MCIA Alep, pp. 227–29, including Sunqurjâh's undated tombstone in the Sâlihîn cemetery; Ibn Shaddâd, A`lâq (Aleppo section), p. 94; Ibn al-Shihnah, text, p. 108, trans., p. 104.
9. Mayer, Islamic Architects, p. 70; RCEA, v. 9, p. 43, no. 3264.
10. Mayer, Islamic Architects, p. 37; RCEA, v. 9, p. 64, no. 3291
11. Mayer, Islamic Architects, p. 62; RCEA, v. 9, pp. 87–88, no. 3328; Sauvaget, “Inscriptions arabes du Temple de Bèl à Palmyre,” Syria, v. 12, 1931, pp. 144–53.
12. Van Berchem, Inschriften aus Syrien, Mesopotamien und Kleinasien gesammelt im Jahre 1899, pp. 22–23. Mayer, Islamic Architects, p. 52; RCEA, v. 9, p. 165, no. 3434; the reading of the name “Yârûq” is from Korn, “Ayyubidische Architectur,” catalogue, “Mittelsyrien,” no. 107.
13. Chevedden, op. cit., pp. 327, 343, for the dates. The inscription of Tower 3 (in the center of the south side) of the Damascus Citadel, reported by Sauvaget but not found by Chevedden, which names an `Alî, could have been executed by Qâhir b. `Alî', but the nisbah was unclear to Sauvaget, who read “al-Busrawî” (Chevedden, pp. 342–44) Chevedden dates it 606/1209–10, in accordance with the tower's foundation inscription. Another inscription by an `Alî was reported by Sauvaget, this one in Tower 10, the north tower; Chevedden did not attempt to locate it (Chevedden, pp. 353–54).
14. Enno Littmann, Publications of an American Archaeological Expedition to Syria in 1899–1900, v. 4, Semitic Inscriptions, pp. 200–01, with photograph; I have not seen the inscription.
15. Janusz Bylinski, “Qal`at Shirkuh at Palmyra: A Medieval Fortress Reinterpreted,” BEO, v. 51, 1999, pp. 151–208.
16. Op. cit., p. 170.
17. Humphreys, From Saladin to the Mongols, pp. 118–19.
18. Enno Littmann, Syria: Publications of the Princeton University Archaeological Expeditions to Syria in 1904–05 and 1909, division 4 (Semitic Inscriptions), sect. D, Arabic Inscriptions, pp. 41–42; Mayer, Islamic Architects, p. 71; RCEA, v. 9, p. 241, no. 3548 (partial).
19. Korn, “Ayyubidische Architekur,” catalogue, “Nordsyrien,” no. 59.
20. RCEA, v. 10, p. 74, no. 3705.
21. Mayer, Islamic Architects, pp. 69–70; RCEA, v. 10, pp. 123–25, no. 3776–78.
22. Mayer, Islamic Architects, p. 126; RCEA, v. 10, p. 183, no. 3869.
23. Enno Littmann, Syria: Publications of the Princeton University Archaeological Expeditions to Syria in 1904–05 and 1909, division 4 (Semitic Inscriptions), sect. D, Arabic Inscriptions, pp. 38; Meinecke Islamic Bosra, p. 41, photograph, p. 43 (an interesting classical juxtaposition, reminiscent of Palmyra).
24. Mayer, Islamic Architects, p. 38; RCEA, v. 10, p. 235, no. 3947.
25. Mayer, Islamic Architects, p. 49; RCEA, v. 11, pp. 36–37, no. 4057
26. Mayer, Islamic Architects, p. 52; RCEA, v. 11, pp. 45–46, no. 4066; Sauvaget, “Caravansérails” syriens du moyen-âge,” Ars Islamica, v. 6, 1939, pp. 48–55; Korn, “Ayyubidische Architekur,” catalogue, “Mittelsyrien,” no. 123 (Shayzar) and no. 80 (`Itna).
27. Korn, “Ayyubidische Architekur,” catalogue, “Nordsyrien,” no. 4, A.
28. Mayer, Islamic Architects, pp. 127–28, 129–30; RCEA, v. 11, p. 94, no. 4144.
29. Mayer, Islamic Architects, pp. 127–28, 129–30; RCEA, v. 11, p. 94, no. 4144.
30. Mayer, Islamic Architects, pp. 127–28, 129–30; RCEA, v. 11, p. 94, no. 4144.
31. Korn, “Ayyubidische Architekur,” catalogue, “Mittelsyrien,” no. 90; Anhang, pt. 2, a, no. 10.
32. Mayer, Islamic Architects, pp. 71–72; RCEA, v. 12, pp. 229–31, no. 4744.
33. For which see Hanspeter Hanisch, “Der Nordostabschnitt der Zitadelle von Damaskus,” Damaszener Mitteilungen, v. 7, 1993 , pp. 233–96, pp. 259–61, 274–82, and 295. Hanisch believes that the inscription frame and inscription are in their original location, restored by Baybars.
34. See Hanisch, Die ayyûbidischen Toranlagen, pp. 97–114, for a good start on the typology of entries; other typologies worth pursuing would be the plans of towers, the details of their vaulting, and the form of their embrasures.
35. Elisséeff, “Les monuments de Nûr ad-Dîn,” pp. 8–9, 14.
36. Abdul-Aziz Khowaiter, Baibars the First: His Endeavours and Achievements.