mosque of ibn tulun

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Elena Damiani, Three collage images from the Series Far-off, drafting what has come to pass, (2012)

 Found images of the ruins of Petra in Jordan, the historic site of Mount Behistun in Iran, the Minaret of Samarra, the ruins of Firuzabad in Iran, the Fortress of Al-Ukhaidir in Iraq, archeological debris of Capernaum in Israel and Mosque of Ibn Tulun located in Cairo are repositioned onto natural landscapes originally found in Atlas Histórico Geográfico y de Paisajes Peruanos, a limited edition Atlas of Peru edited between the 60s and 70s.



The historic constructions of the ancient Middle East are layered against remote Peruvian sceneries where both natural and artificial elements are protagonists. The fusion of elements of two different locations arises as a new territorial portrait of presumably strong mechanisms that trigger memories of locations that didn’t exist in the past as a whole but as distant individual parts that are now placed together. These images of fictional settings have a comparable affect to the one of ancient ruins appealing to collective memory; they invoke nostalgia for times that have come to pass.

Here we have the Mosque of Ibn Tulun in Cairo–probably this stamp enthusiast’s favorite mosque in all of our City Victorious.  My maternal grand-mère once upon a time in the 1930s climbed the minaret of Ibn Tulun–just as this stamp enthusiast climbed it in the early 2000s, snapping nearly identical shots of the city and ourselves with a distance of roughly 70 years.  It is arguably the oldest mosque in the city surviving in its original form, and is the largest mosque in Cairo in terms of land area.  Go have a look for yourself!

Stamp details:
Issued on: May 20, 1958
From: Cairo, Egypt
MC #531

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Views from the Ibn Tulun mosque. 

I finally made it to the Mosque of Ibn Tulun, and it was just as stunning as I thought it would be. Arguably the oldest mosque in the city that is still in its original form, Ibn Tulun was completed in 876 AD. It unfortunately is not well preserved, but it still exhibits the artful geometry that typifies early Islamic architecture. 

I was lucky enough to be able to go into one of the mosque’s minarets. From the top, I had a birds eye view with a full 360 degree panorama of the city. Looking around the district of Sayyida Zeinab below, clusters of apartment buildings are decorated with the minarets of other neighborhood mosques. 

After this trip, I’m excited to start my Spring ‘16 course, Islamic Architecture of Egypt and Syria… and even more excited for a second trip to the masjids of  Sayyida Zeinab!