Juma Mosque of Shamakhi
|Juma Mosque of Shamakhi|
History of establishment
Construction date of the mosque- 743-744 – relies on research of a geological commission coming from Tiflis, which was led by prince Shahgulu Qajar. This date was defined with Arabic ligature on the facade of the Friday Mosque, stating the year 126 according to Islamic calendar as the establishment year. Just in this period the construction of new religious buildings – mosques – was begun in the territory of Azerbaijan. Historical appearance of ancient Islamic architectural monuments was related to Arabs’ governance and spreading of Islam in the territory of Azerbaijan. Friday Mosque of Shamakhi is considered the first mosque in the Caucasus after cathedral Friday Mosque of Derbent, which was constructed in 734.
The construction date of the mosque is dated from the governance period of Caliphate’s vicar in the Caucasus and Dagestan, Arabic commander Maslam ibn Abd-al Melik, brother of Umayyad caliph Valil I (705-715), by whom Shamakhi was chosen as the residence. In these years Arab governors, strengthening towers of this ancient city with the rich cultural heritage, began the construction of new structures in its territory. Arabs attached the great importance to Shamakhi, which is visible from the great architectural appearance of Friday Mosque.
Considerable demolitions and damages of Friday Mosque during the battles and earthquakes were the reason of restorative reconstructions of the mosque’s building. According to information of Imadeddin Isfahani - a chronicler of Seljuq’s epoch, beginning from 1123, Shirvanshah rulers resorted to Seljuq’s sultan Mahmud (1118-1131), for defense from forays of Georgians. The chronicle says that “the assailants demolished the mosque, knocked down the minaret, plundered in the city” at that time in Shamakhi.
The first construction of Friday Mosque was begun at the end of the 12th century and was related to the considerable damage of Friday Mosque’s building suffered from partial forays and was conditioned by the strengthening of Shirvanshakh’s power during the reign of the ruler Manuchehr III, by whom were built new constructions and strengthened the city walls. Historian-archeologist Jiddi, relying on historical sources and books about construction reported about a sobriquet “The Great Khagan”, how Manuchehr II was called due his great merits. At that time, the eminent Azerbaijani poet Khaqani, native of Shamakhi, wrote that “the glory of his city overshadowed the glory of Bukhara”. Archeological excavations, held in 1970, in the territory of the mosque confirmed the considerable constructional and architectural changes, dated from that epoch. Considerable amount of madrasah, cell-huts and graves were found during the archeological excavations.
The second construction of the mosque was made in the 17th century, during the reign of Safavid Dynasty. Evliya Çelebi-Turkish scientist-traveler visiting Shamakhi in 1656, said that Friday Mosque is the largest religious construction of the city among others. In his work Evliya Chelebi reports about some structural changes of Friday Mosque during the Safavids’ epoch.
The third reconstruction of the mosque was made in 1860 by province architect Hajibababeyov after the great damage of the building by the earthquake in 1859. This reconstruction was made on the basis of draft images of Russian artist Grigory Gagarin.
The fourth reconstruction was begun after the strongest earthquake in 1902, which was demolished and damaged a lot of buildings of Shamakhi. For complete reconstruction of the mosque were gathered donations by philanthropists and was created a special committee. Primarily, the reconstruction of the mosque was charged to the eminent Azerbaijani architect of that time-Ziverbey Ahmadbeyov, a native of Shamakhi city. One of the conditions of the architect was preservation of external of the mosque, but the committee didn’t agree with that, which became the reason of the architect’s discharge from the subsequent works of the mosque’s reconstruction. Continuation of the work in the mosque was offered to the architect Józef Plośko. Variation of the project, presented by Józef Plośko in 1909, provided considerable change of façade and external look of the mosque. The project was based on the foundation of elder plan and results of the uncompleted construction, but there appeared orderly flanking minarets on it and open balconies with light pavilions, symmetric-axial composition of the mosques with pair minarets was completed by a great central cupola. Such planning was used in the 15th century in construction of Tabriz school of architecture for the first time and also adopted architectural features of Shirvanshahs’ Palace ensemble in Baku. Construction of the mosque based on Józef Plośko’s project was charged to D.Sadykhbeyov, but such important elements as central cupola, side minarets, gallery, portal and central stair platform were deleted from the project during the work because of the deficiency of financial resources.
In 1918, Friday Mosque, which was not fully constructed, again was suffered from fire, made by armed units of Armenian party “Dashnaktsutiun” under the guidance of Stepan Lalayan, whose attack to Shamakhi began nearly simultaneously with bloody events in Baku. According to petition of Shamakhi people living in Baku to general Thompson – Commander-in-Chief of the Union Army “the city was completely destroyed, and then-burned, none of the mosques could escape destruction”. As a result of the fire, 1800 residents-women, children, old men, who were forcibly driven away to the mosque were burned alive by dashnaks. Rare manuscripts and books were also destroyed. Today, everybody can see tracks of fire on the walls of the mosque.
External look and planning
The Friday Mosque Complex always distinguished with its volume and silhouette among cultic and civil monuments of Azerbaijan because of the correlation with earlier monuments of Islamic architecture, keeping its composition centre. The only extant sketch of Friday Mosque was made in 1847, by Russian architect G.Gagarin from life, who portrayed architectural monuments and other cities of Azerbaijan in his pictures. Just these pictures make an idea about the external look and internal ornamentation of old Friday Mosque. The ancient internal planning organization of the mosque has been kept till now, in spite of the multiple reconstructions. Three-hall structure of the mosque, three-section internal area covered with central and not great side cupolas are seen on G.Gagarin’s pictures. The central pointed dome, pillars of side sections and oblong interior of the main hall of warship makes Friday Mosque similar with Friday Mosque of Derbent. Plan of the mosque is rectangular, sizes of the mosque’s are 46 meters length and 28 meters width, the mosque has a large warship hall, divided into three separated quadratic sections related with each other by open and large apertures. Each prt of the mosque has separate mihrab and aperture for entrance. Friday Mosque is called three-hall mosque because of a such plan. Such kind of planning reminds of planning organization of the well-known Great mosque of Umayyads in Damask, which was built in 708. Friday Mosque of the 8th century in Aghsu, which was destroyed during the fire in 1918, was differed with analogical planning. The frequent constructions enabled to keep initial internal outlines and foundation of the mosque in whole, though the internal ornamentation and some details of external façade suffered definite modifications. Archeological researches showed that, plan of the building remained invariable, in spite of the multiple reconstructions.
Most considerable modifications on the architectural structure of the mosque were made on Józef Plośko’s project. The architect added elements of the Eastern architecture, taking traditions of Islamic architecture as a principle of that time to his project. Planning structure of Friday Mosque should be supplemented with dynamic content and special picturesqueness in Józef Plośko’s interpretation. Eliminating side abutments of the warship hall, the architect tried to create most solid and monumental interior. For creating the same size of three halls of the mosque, the architect with specific artistic-plastic expressiveness conceived non-traditional construction, the metallic carcasses of which were produced in Warsaw for Shirvan zone of the cupola. For strengthening significance of the composition, Plośko developed high multiple-window lodgement to which the central cupola leaned on. There should be four decorative minarets around it. Ornamental decorations, shebeke (window frameworks with gashed patterns) and decorative pillars were also intended to be in the project.
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