Islamic Architecture

Last updated by chinatravel at 2014/4/22

Mosque as the main type of Islamic architecture must be built in the residential area of Islamic believers. The mosque building must comply with the general regulations of Islam. For example, the church must face the east so that pilgrims may hold worship sevice in the direction of the Holy Land, Mekka, namely, facing the west; no images are placed in the church and merely the holy niche behind the hall is taken as the object of worship; the decoration and pattern design of the mosque building is not allowed to use animal vein but merely the figures of plants or characters.

Since the difference in architectural technologies and materials in all parts of China and that in architectural scale, auxiliary buildings, characteristics of craftwork and local styles induced by requirements of use, mosque buildings of all shapes are produced. They can be divided into two categories according to form principles: architecture of the Hui nationality and architecture of the Uygur nationality.

Hui Mosque

The Hui Mosque is developed and formed by assimilating the workmanship of the traditional architecture of the Han nationality. It can also be said to be the Islamic architecture with the most oriental emotional appeal. First of all, according to the principle of courtyard style layout of the Han buildings, the buildings are combined into an enclosed courtyard house with a clear relationship of axial symmetry, such as the mosque in the Drum Tower Street in Chengdu of Sichuan Province and the mosque in Dahhuo Alley of Tianjin City.

Secondly,a large quantity of building furniture of Chinese characteristics are applied, such as stone archways, screen walls, brick gate building, house style concierge. Even the Minaret building as the characteristic architecture of Islam is also constructed in the style of pavilion. Some mosques repeatedly apply above-mentioned building furniture in the overall layout and place more emphasis on the tradional characteristics of China. For example, the Jining Dongda Temple has four gates laid in front of the grand hall to make up the principal part of buildings.

Thirdly,the roof combination of the Hui mosque hall is also an accomplished artistic creation. Owing to the generally quite large space depth of the worship hall and the problem of lighting and rain prevention to be solved, the worship halls of the Hui nationality mostly have combination style sloping roofs. Some even have five roofs that are joined together. The mosque in Niu Street of Beijing, the Grand Temples in Tongxin and Weizhou of Ningxia, the grand mosque in the Shizui Mountain of Ningxia and the Xida Temple in Jining of Shandong Province are all in this style.

Fourthly, in order to further emphasize the gaudiness of the roof, the mosque has high and steep pavilions added to the combination roof. Take the mosque in the Dahuo Alley of Tianjin City for example. There are five square pavilions and hexagonal pavilions with doule eave roofs designed side by side at the back hall of the mosque. The pavilions have a long and thin proportion and exceptionally prominent vigor of toweringness and forcefulness. They are different in approach but equally satisfactory in result with the spire style Minaretbuilding of Arabic and Islamic architecture.

Lastly, the inner eaves of the Hui mosque apply a large quantity of traditional fitment and decoration techniques of the Han buildings. But it also combines with Islamic culture and initiates the new national art with fresh and pure emotional appeal. Take the worship hall of the mosque in the Niu Street of Beijing City for example. Its partition adopts the Central Asia style pointed arches and arches with Arabic characters and patterns. However, the arches are covered with the patterns of twisted-branch western lotus with red earth, dropping powder and stamping foil and hence produce blended artistic style and features. Moreover, the Chinese traditional brick sculpture and wooden carvings are also applied in the mosque in large quantities. Some carvings have almost become rare works of art.

Islamic Architecture of the Uygur nationality

The buildings in South Xinjiang are most typical of the Uygur Islamic architecture. Since it is dry with less rain and clear-cut winter and summer in this area and it has a quite close contact with Central Asia in the history, the local buildings are mostly bungalows in the style of wooden post and close ribs or buildings with earthern arches and cove tops, which is very different from those in the hinterland. The Uygur worship temple and hall have an asymmetrical layout without a strict relationship of axial contraposition. The decoration of the Uygur worship hall is characterized by the application of geometrical pattern designs in large quantities. It forms the compostion of a picture with two or four consecutive sides by adopting all kinds of modes such as juxtaposition, symmetry, interleaving and circulation with constant changes. Its artistic style of delicacy amid uprightness is unique in the decorational patterns of Chinese architecture.

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