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For the academic journal, see Muqarnas (journal).
Muqarnas in the Alhambra, Granada, Spain, in plaster, with downward projections.
Muqarnas in the entrance gate to the Shah Mosque in Isfahan, Iran
Muqarnas corbel, Qutb Minar, India

The muquarnas (Arabic: مقرنص Persian: مقرنس) is a form of architectural ornamented vaulting, the "geometric subdivision of a squinch, or cupola, or corbel, into a large number of miniature squinches, producing a sort of cellular structure", sometimes also called "honeycomb" vaults from their resemblance to these.[1] They are used for domes, and especially half-domes in entrances and apses, mostly in traditional Islamic and Persian architecture. When some elements project downwards, the style is called mocárabe;[2][3] these are reminiscent of stalactites, and are may be called "stalactite vaults".

Muquarnas bear no load and are purely decorative. The individual cells may be called alveoles.[4] Muqarnas developed around the middle of the 10th century in northeastern Iran and almost simultaneously — but seemingly independently — in central North Africa; they take the form of small pointed niches, stacked in tiers which project beyond lower tiers, commonly constructed of brick, stone, stucco, or wood, clad with painted tiles, wood, or plaster, and are typically applied to domes, pendentives, cornices, squinches and the undersides of arches and vaults.[2]

Examples can be found in the Alhambra in Granada, Spain, the Abbasid Palace in Baghdad, Iraq, and the mausoleum of Sultan Qaitbay, Cairo, Egypt.[2] Large rectangular roofs in wood with muqarnas-style decoration adorn the 12th century Cappella Palatina in Palermo, Sicily, and other important buildings in Norman Sicily. They are also found in Armenian architecture.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ VirtualAni website. "Armenian architecture glossary". Retrieved 2009-07-17. 
  2. ^ a b c Curl, James Stevens (2006). A Dictionary of Architecture and Landscape Architecture (Paperback) (2nd ed.). Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-860678-8. 
  3. ^ VirtualAni website. "Armenian architecture glossary". Retrieved 2009-07-17. 
  4. ^ VirtualAni website. "Armenian architecture glossary". Retrieved 2009-07-17. 

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