Great Mosque of Kairouan
Date: Mid-ninth century (and eleventh-century maqsura)
Location or Findspot (Modern-Day Country): Tunisia
Description: The rectangular courtyard and large hypostyle prayer hall of Great Mosque of Kairouan are full of Roman and Byzantine marble spolia. Within the prayer hall, the central aisle leads towards the mihrab. Above the mihrab are lusterware tiles in a checkerboard pattern, each decorated with with floral and plant motifs. These were imported from Samarra or Baghdad. The wall of the mihrab is clad in panels of white marble carved in openwork geometric patterns, possibly from Spain. To the right of the mihrab and minbar is the maqsura, a wooden screen creating a separate space for the ruler's private prayer. This sculpted cedar screen is later than the mihrab and minbar, dating to the first half of the eleventh century, but it is nevertheless one of the oldest still in place.
Relevant Textbook Chapter(s): 5
Repository and Online Resources: • The city of Kairouan is on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
Image Credits: Manar al-Athar, Wikimedia Commons, Linda Safran, Navid Jamali
Tags: Access to the sacred, Status and identity, Arabic, Islamic, North African, Western Asian, Spolia, Mediterranean, Islamicate, Works in textbook