Madrasa wa Khanqah Salar wa Sanjar al-Jawli
Cairo, Egypt

The complex of Amir Salar and Amir Sanjar al-Jawili was built in 1303-4 by Amir Sanjar al-Jawili, a powerful amir during the reign of al-Nasir Muhammad. It was intended to house, in addition to his madrasa, a mausoleum for himself and one for his longtime friend Amir Salar. The two contiguous burial chambers are each covered by a ribbed, pointed brick dome. As a token of love and respect, Sanjar distinguished the mausoleum of his companion with a larger dome and more decoration.

The adjoining religious foundation, which consists of a rectangular, single-iwan courtyard surrounded on the other sides by cells, most likely served as a khanqah whose curriculum included courses in theology and Shafi'i law. The large iwan is faced by a minute iwan across the courtyard. The vestibule behind the two mausolea is covered by possibly the earliest example of a stone dome in Cairo. The two mausolea along with this domed vestibule and the cross-vaulted corridor that leads from the madrasa-khanqah to this funerary section are oriented towards Mecca, but the madrasa-khanqah is not.

The layout of the whole complex is an interesting juxtaposition of two patterns within the same foundation, with one set askew to the other. Such a juxtaposition is unusual among Cairene medieval monuments, where a divergence between patterns within a religious foundation is the result of reconciling the street alignment with the foundation, with its two parts, the institutional (i.e., mosque, madrasa, or khanqah) and funerary, both oriented towards Mecca.

The square-octagonal-circular minaret is a composition that later becomes standard in Mamluk minarets. It is one of only two extant minarets with a portal at the staircase entrance from the roof of the foundation.

The piercing and carving technique, usually applied to stucco window grilles, is employed here to produce stone screens for the first time in Cairene architecture.


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Jarrar, Sabri, András Riedlmayer, and Jeffrey B. Spurr. Resources for the Study of Islamic Architecture. Cambridge, MA: Aga Khan Program for Islamic Architecture, 1994.

Kessler, Christel. The Carved Masonry Domes of Mediaeval Cairo. n.p.: London : AARP, 1976.

Rizq, ?A?im Mu?ammad. A?las al-?imarah al-Islamiyah wa-al-Qib?iyah bi-al-Qahirah. al-Qahirah : Maktabat Madbuli, 2003.

Shari' Saliba, Qal'at al-Kabsh, Cairo, Egypt
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1303-1304/703 AH
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Madrasa and Khanqah of Salar and Sanjar al-Jawli
Amir Salar and Amir Sanjar al-Jawli Funerary Complex
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