Name of Monument:

Great Mosque of Sousse

Location:

In the Medina, Sousse, Tunisia

Date of Monument:

Hegira 236–47 / AD 851–62

Architect(s) / master-builder(s):

Mudam, a freed slave of the founder.

Period / Dynasty:

Aghlabid

Patron(s):

Prince Abu al-‘Abbas Muhammad al-Aghlabi.

Description:

The Great Mosque at Sousse comprises a prayer hall preceded by a courtyard. The courtyard is wider than it is deep and has porticoes lining three sides. The fourth portico at the front of the prayer hall is an addition which probably dates from the AH 5th century (AD 11th). Above the façade is an inscription in kufic characters sculpted in relief from the stone and extending in a long horizontal line. It mentions the name of Mudam, freed slave of the amir, charged with supervising the works and is the oldest epigraphic frieze decorating the façade of a monument that we possess.
As the Sousse Mosque has no minaret, the call to prayer was proclaimed from the top of the northeast corner tower, which has a domed kiosk and is accessible by a staircase giving onto the courtyard.
The prayer hall is quadrilateral in shape (59 m x 51 m) and is divided into 13 naves and 6 bays. The central nave is wider than the others and is crowned with two domes. The dome of the mihrab is semi-spherical and rests on a tambour with eight concave facets. The massive stone base is decorated with denticles. Internally, the dome rests on angled squinches. The prayer hall is covered with barrel vaults reinforced by semi-circular beam-arches. The vaults are supported by stone cruciform pillars.
The mihrab dates from the Zirid period, judging by the decoration of the semi-cylindrical niches and the inscription rings with their flowery kufic characters.

View Short Description

Built during the Aghlabid era, the Great Mosque of Sousse is a quadrilateral shape with a wide, shallow prayer room bordered on three sides by a portico. The mosque has no minaret, so the call to prayer would have be made from the top of the tower arising from the northeast corner of the complex. The architectural and decorative motifs used were taken from the Kairouanese decorative repertoire.

How Monument was dated:

Kufic inscription sculpted in stone on the façade, in the Aghlabid manner.

Selected bibliography:

Creswell, K. A. C., Early Muslim architecture, vol. II, pp.246–51.
Marçais, G., L'architecture musulmane d'Occident, Paris, 1954, pp.23–4.
Ifriqiya: Thirteen centuries of Art and Architecture in Tunisia, pp.195–6.

Citation of this web page:

Jamila Binous "Great Mosque of Sousse" in Discover Islamic Art, Museum With No Frontiers, 2018. 2018. http://www.discoverislamicart.org/database_item.php?id=monument;ISL;tn;Mon01;5;en

Prepared by: Jamila BinousJamila Binous

Née en 1939 à Tunis, a étudié l'histoire et la géographie à l'Université de Tunis et l'urbanisme à l'Université de Tours (France).
Mme Binous a exercé 30 ans durant autant que chercheur puis directeur à l'Association pour la Sauvegarde de la Médina de Tunis.
A été expert de l'Unesco (mission Sanaa « Ville Historique ») en 1982 ; expert national pour le projet UNDP de reconstruction des sites historiques méditerranéens ; membre du Comité International des Villes Historiques ; co-auteur de la Charte internationale des Villes Historiques (ICOMOS-UNESCO).
Consultante auprès de l'IMED pour l'étude sur le contexte législatif, la stratégie et la politique des musées en Tunisie 2002-2003.
Coordinatrice de l'exposition la femme et le seuil in Femme, culture et créativité en Tunisie – Credif - Tunis 2001.
Mme Binous a pris part à divers congrès internationaux, écrit plusieurs articles et ouvrages tels que :
- Tunis d'un monument à l'autre, Tunis, 1970
- Tunis, Tunis, 1985
- Les chefs d'œuvres de l'artisanat tunisien, Tunis 1982
- Les maisons de la Médina de Tunis, Dar Asraf édition Tunis 2002.

MWNF Working Number: TN 05

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Islamic Dynasties / Period

Aghlabids


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