Mausoleum (qubba) of Taynabak al-Hasani
Damascus (Maydan suburb), Syria, Damascus, Syria
Hegira 797 / AD 1394–5
Sayf al-Din Taynabak al-Hasani, Governor of Damascus (r. AH 795–802 / AD 1393–1400).
Al-Taynabiyya is located in the Maydan al-Fawqani quarter (meaning the upper parade ground) to the south of Damascus. Maydans were originally open fields on the periphery of the city used for exercise and military training, which became settled with the expansion of pilgrim and merchant traffic in southern Damascus, a fact attested to by the medieval historian Ibn Asakir (d. AH 571 / AD 1176) who notes that the first settlements in the Maydan suburb took place during the Zangid period. Thus this section of the trade and pilgrim route, which heads to the holy cities of the Hijaz via the fertile Hauran Plains of southern Syria, began to be absorbed into the urban fabric of Damascus.
As the area was considered auspicious, many emirs, including Salah al-Din al-Ayyubi (Saladin), desired to be buried there in order to receive the blessings and prayers of passing pilgrims. During the Mamluk period in the AH 8th / AD 14th century, urban development was rapid and the quantity of religious, social and economic constructions, such as mosques, hammams, grain markets, and khans, saw a marked increase. The most characteristic type of building to be found on both sides of the Maydan's main artery were the mausoleums (qubba); their polychrome façades and painted cupolas offered the suburb a distinctively colourful and picturesque character. Al-Qubba Al-Taynabiyya is one of more than 20 mausoleums to have been built by the Mamluks.
The outer façade of the domed Al-Qubba al-Taynabiyya faces east. The monument is symmetrical in layout and constructed out of black-and-white alternating stone, in a style known as ablaq. The entrance, situated in the centre of the façade, is part of an elaborate niche that has a fluted mussel-shaped half-dome ceiling surmounted by a muqarnas arch. The niche is topped by a flat, protruding upper section. Beneath the muqarnas is an intricate square containing a Mamluk blazon composed of three parts: an empty upper section, a goblet in the middle section, a smaller goblet in the lower section and, between two lozenges, there is a a napkin motif. The goblet, signifying the cupbearer, is one of the most frequently used symbols in Mamluk heraldry, particularly since Sultan al-Nasir Muhammad ibn Qalawun's time (who ruled three times: AH 693–4 / AD 1293–4; AH 698–708 / AD 1299–1309; AH 709–41 / AD 1310–41), followed by the napkin, symbolising the table master. In this context it is difficult to identify any particular officer and often the use of a composite blazon can be interpreted as a generic status symbol. Above the two windows on each side of the entrance niche are rosettes of interlaced stone incrustations. The monument has two domed chambers: the southern one is a prayer hall, while the northern one houses the qubba, where the wife of the founder was buried in AH 798 / AD 1396, and later Taynabak himself in AH 802 / AD 1400.
During the AH 8th / AD 14th century the Maydan area, an open field originally used for military training and located along the pilgrim route to the south of Damascus, began to develop as an extension to the city's urban fabric. It became increasingly attractive as a location for mausoleums and religious institutions, which would auspiciously receive blessings and prayers from passing pilgrims. Over 20 Mamluk buildings, distinctive because of their striped ablaq facades, elaborate entrance niches and red domes, are located on this road, the mausoleum of Amir Taynabak being just one of them.
The monument was dated by its portal inscription.
Meinecke, M., “Die mamlukische Architektur”, ägypten und Syrien, 1992, Vol. II, p.285; cat. nos. 25b, 33.
Meinecke, M., “Zur mamlukischen Heraldik”, Mitteilungen des Deutschen Archäologischen Instituts Abteilung Kairo, 28, 1972, pp.213–87.
Moaz, A., “Midan, la grande route”, Le Midan, Actualité d'un faubourg ancien de Damas (Y. Roujon and L. Vilan, eds), pp.137–9.
Sauvaget, J., Les monuments historiques de Damas, Beyrouth, 1932, p.73; fig. 28ff.
Wulzinger, K., and Watzinger C., Damaskus, die islamische Stadt, Berlin and Leipzig, 1924, p.101; cat. no. D 15.1.
Verena Daiber "Mausoleum (qubba) of Taynabak al-Hasani" in Discover Islamic Art, Museum With No Frontiers, 2018. 2018. http://www.discoverislamicart.org/database_item.php?id=monument;ISL;sy;Mon01;17;en
Prepared by: Verena DaiberVerena Daiber
Verena Daiber has been a researcher at the German Archaeological Institute in Damascus since 2002, where she is preparing her Ph.D.thesis on 'Architectural and cultural history of Damascus in the 18th century'. She graduated from the Free University of Berlin where she studied Near Eastern archaeology and Arabic literature. In 1990 she obtained her MA degree with a study of medieval pottery from the citadel of Aleppo. She participated in numerous excavations in Sheich Hamad and Aleppo in Syria and Baalbek, Lebanon. She edited the third volume of the 'Raqqa' series, a compilation of studies conducted by several scholars on the site. Her latest publication is a study of the fine medieval pottery from Baalbek. In addition to her research she works as a translator for German and Arabic.
Copyedited by: Mandi Gomez
MWNF Working Number: SY 21
Islamic Dynasties / Period
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