Dictionary of Islamic Architecture

Dictionary of Islamic Architecture

Dictionary of Islamic Architecture

Dictionary of Islamic Architecture


The Dictionary of Islamic Architecture provides the fullest range of artistic, technical, archaeological, cultural and biographical data for the entire geographical and chronological spread of Islamic architecture - from West Africa through the Middle East to Indonesia, and from the seventh to the eighteenth centuries of the Common Era.Over 500 entries are arranged alphabetically and fully cross-referenced and indexed to permit easy access to the text and to link items of related interest.Four main categories of subject matter are explored:* dynastic and regional overviews* individual site descriptions* biographical entries* technical definitionsOver 100 relevant plans, sketch maps, photographs and other illustrations complement and illuminate the entries, and the needs of the reader requiring further information are met by individual entry bibliographies.


In one of the quarters of the city is the Muhammadan town, where the Muslims have their cathedral, mosque, hospice and bazar. They have also a qadi and a shaykh, for in every one of the cities of China there must always be a shaykh al-Islam, to whom all matters concerning Muslims are referred.

Ibn Battuta, Travels in Asia and Africa 1325-1354, Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1929

Abu Abdallah Mahammad of Tangier, also known as Ibn Battuta, is the most famous of the Arab travellers. His journeys started with a pilgrimage (hajj) to Mecca and afterwards he always tried to travel within a Muslim context whether he was in Timbuktu or China. What is notable about these accounts is that they deal with Muslim communities which are remote from the western stereotype of Muslim society. For example most general works on Islamic architecture tend to confine themselves to the Middle East and North Africa, neglecting the centuries old Islamic heritage of South-East Asia, India, East and West Africa. It is an aim of this book to include as many as possible of these less well known Muslim cultures whose populations now outnumber those of the central Islamic lands.

As a corollary to this approach there has been an attempt to include vernacular architecture rather than dealing exclusively with well known monumental architecture. As well as being important in its own right vernacular architecture provides an architectural context for the more famous monuments. In order to aid the reader’s appreciation of this relationship, vernacular architecture has been included in regional summaries, which also discuss the geographical and cultural character of an area. As a balance to the regional approach there are also historical accounts dealing with particular dynasties or historic styles.

The encyclopedic nature of this work has meant that there is little room for theoretical discussions of aesthetics or meaning. This is not because these are unimportant considerations but because these are issues best discussed in a different, more selective format. The main purpose of this book is to provide basic information which includes definitions of architectural terms, descriptions of specific monuments and summaries of regional and historic groups. Attached to each entry there is a short list of books for further reading which refers the user to the principal works on the subject. It is hoped that the information provided will enable the reader to gain some appreciation of the diversity and genius of Muslim culture.

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