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Mousque and school of Amir Sarghitmish (1356 AD):
Amir sarghatmishwas a Mamluk bought for a considerable sum of mony by Al Naser Mohamed Ibn Qalawan (ruled form 1299 AD 1341 AD). He was assigned the post of gamdar (keeper of the sultan wardrobe), as he was holding the mirror while the sultan was dressing. During the reign of sultan AL Muzaffar Haji (1347AD) Sarghatmish quickly rose up through the ranks of amirs and on his promotion to the post of Ra's Nuba Kabir (Commander in chief). For the following years he became one of the most influential amirs.He had a major rule with amir Shaykho on returting of sultan Hasan to power for the second time (1354AD-1361AD). After the assassination of Amir Shaykho (1356AD) , Amir sarghatmish take the postion of Amir shaykho and he became amir kabir (the grand marshal) and he became the real ruler of Egypt. The young Sultan Hasan mange to throw Amir Sarghatmish in prison in Alexandria (1357 AD), where he was murdered (1358 AD). In such turbulent time, Egypt had 8 sultans (all of them are Al Naser Mohamed Ibn Qalawan sons), only in 20 years (1341 AD to 1361 AD).
Amir Sarghatmish 5 story mosque and madrasa is open central courtyard cruciform madras. Adopts a four-iwan layout with pointed arches and a "mushahhar" masonry of white and red marble , the side iwans are of a considerable size and consequently leave little room on the lateral sides of the courtyard for the student living units, most of which, as a result, have their windows on the exterior. This marks the beginning of the tendency to integrate madrasas into urban life. This school was dedicated only to the Hanafi rite.( for 60 students , 4 teachers plus an annex for 40 orphans).
In 1335 the Mongol Ilkhanid state collapsed (which where in Iran and some parts of Pakistan and Afghanistan nowadays). Many of the Hanafi rite masters , artisans and craftsmen migrated to Cairo. Amir Sarghatmish was deeply influenced by this and he dedicated his madrasa only to the Hanafi rite (which was the major rite in central asia these day and still in Pakistan and Afghanistan).
This school has the most unique two bulb shape elongated double shielded brick dooms , which have not been repeated in Egypt . This style was adopted originally from Samerkand and become the dominate for the following centuries in central Asia. The Minaret, to the left of the madrasa entrance soars majestically above the madrasa with it three sections.The upper most section (the gawsaq) is raised on 8 marble columns and crowned with a series of muqarnas and bulbiform final.Rising from a square base, the lower and middle section are octagonal with alternating white and red stone bands. Beside the mihrab a very remarkable and bountiful white marble panel with a medallions surrounded by plant motifs .
Innovative features include pendentives triangles underneath the portal's semi-dome, the patterns of the two-colored inlaid masonry on the minaret, the covering of the central part of the qibla iwan with a dome (a feature unique in Cairene cruciform-plan madrasas), and the double-shell brick dome of the mausoleum with its unusually high drum. This dome, which lacks the typical pointed top, houses the earliest dated example of a stalactite cornice on the exterior of a dome. This madrasa shows how the desire to reconcile the facade to the existing street alignment while orienting the interior to the qibla, and the desire to display the mausoleum to the passersby to invoke their blessings produced a unique volumetric composition which provides a rich sequential experience on both the interior and exterior.
This madrasa was built in the same time as madrasa of sultan hasan (1356 AD- 1362 AD). And as many similarities and many more unique items that might appears ,this only tells us why the mamluks were with no doubt the splendor and great builders of Egypt.
Tamer PS: You can see photos of Mousque and school of Amir Sarghitmish and Madrasa and khanqah of amir Salar and Sanger Al gawli.
article published 4/19/2005