Islamic Art and Architecture: Unit 2 Muslim places of worship and devotion

2.9 Other regional types of mosque architecture

In addition to the three mosque types discussed above, other regional variations in mosque architecture can be easily distinguished. These mosque styles historically followed local building traditions. In this section we will get a brief introduction to these mosque types by visiting the webpages on ArchNet’s Digital Library.

In India and Pakistan the triple-domed prayer room became the predominant style under the Mughals (reigned 1526–1857). See, for example, the Badshaahi Mosque (also visible here) in Lahore, Pakistan, which was built in 1673–4.

In sub-Saharan West Africa, builders used local architectural elements and techniques in interpreting mosque architecture from North Africa. As a result the ‘hypostyle’ or Arab mosque that we discussed earlier was the predominant mosque form albeit in a local interpretation. For a good example see the Great Friday Mosque of Timbuktu, Mali.

In China, most mosques followed Chinese traditions of monumental architecture, except in the north-west of the country where historical links with Central Asia continued to influence religious architecture. Chinese monumental architecture is traditionally oriented along a north-south axis and arranged in the form of a series of courtyards within an enclosure. In Chinese mosques, however, the general courtyard arrangement was kept but the main prayer-hall was turned due west towards the qibla. For a good example explore the link to the Great Mosque of Xi’an.

The predominant form of South East Asian mosques was an open prayer-hall with timber structure supporting a multi-level hipped roof in the local building tradition. Domes and Mughal-style mosques were only introduced under the various colonial powers. See for example the Masjid Baturrachman in Banda Acheh, Indonesia.