Zabytkowy zespół "Emir Kurkumas" na Nekropoli Kalifów w Kairze
THE ARCHITECTURAL COMPLEX OF AMEER QURQUMAS WITHIN THE KHALIF NECROPOLIS, CAIRO, EGYPT
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Basing upon the hitherto lasting co-operation Egyptian Authorities have entrusted a group of Polish specialists with the conservation of monuments of Islamic architecture. From 1972 onward in Cairo is acting the Polish-Egyptian Group for Restoration of Islamic Monuments whose activities are based on the respective provisions of agreement on cultural co-operation signed toy Poland and Egypt. As the first object with which is dealing the Group is to be considered the complex of Ameer Qurqumas being at the same time one of the most valuable Mameluke monuments within the Khalif Necropolis in Cairo. Both location and state of preservation of this object are enabling its favourable display, fairly fast advances of restoration and, as a result, the making it accessible to visitors. The „Ameer Qurqumas” architectural complex was built in H500—1507 as a foundation made by Qurqumas, a Mameluke of sultan Kadt Bey and at the same time one of the main personalities of the sultan’s court. The above complex is composed of several component parts. Of these the most early erected element is the founder’s mausoleum to wthich are closing a masque and the residence. Until now, however, there are not available any more definite information as to the use that was made of that residence. As the latest built is to be considered the part forming a sui generis monastery which was known as „khanka”. There is every reason to believe that the total time used for erection of this complex amounted to some nine or ten years; and although lit was constructed by stages it seems to be almost sure thait its architectural design was from the very beginnings one uniform far the whole. The architectural investigations carried out on the site have greatly contributed to such am opinion. Masonry of the whole complex was built of ashlar, i.e. of local limestone bound with lime mortar. The mausoleum has the form typical for the Mameluke architecture and is formed of a square in plan nave covered with a dome based an pendentives. Its façade, the supports and the dome are richly decorated with both geometrical and epigraphic ornaments that, it seems, were originally coated with polychrome paintings. In the mosque whose façades and interiors were also richly decorated are preserved the timber-constructed ceilings with the polychrome decorative layers on them. Unfortunately, both in mosque and in mausoleum have been seriously damaged the marble panellings whose relics preserved to our days enable their reconstruction. During the course of field investigations were discovered the underground water cistern and the drainage system that bath can toe considered as entirely unique features of architectural monuments coming from that period. Above the masque is shooting a richly decorated minaret whose state of preservation may be described as one excellent. The Ameer’s residence closing to mausoleum is rather small, comprising altogether three rooms, and is located at the level of the first storey of a building whose ground level has the form of an open, vaulted and arcaded passage. Although no floors have survived to our times in the residence the shape of its preserved wall crowning makes it possible to rebuild the whole in its original forms. The „khanika” farms the mast devastated part within the complex and there are visible traces of the previous poorly executed repairs. From the mid-eighteenth century onward the complex wais deserted and as late as from the mid-nineteenth until the end of that century it was used as military stares. From that times are dating the traces of repairs in „khanka”. Until now there were twice carried out the restorations, namely for the first time about 1917 and then in il940—42. However, these works could toe described as those of rather inventorying and safegurading character. The at present planned conservation toy the Polish-Egyptian Group provides for a full restoration of mausoleum and masque and the adaptation of residence and „khanka’1' for the use of Egyptian conservation services whiich the plan will be reported in the forthcoming issue.
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