Photograph: Khalil Nemmaoui

Name of Monument:

Dar al-Jam’i


Meknès, Morocco

Date of Monument:

Hegira 1298–1300 / AD 1880–2

Period / Dynasty:



Mukhtar Ibn Al-‘Arbi al-Jam’i, Vizier to Hasan I (r. AH 1290–1312 / AD 1873–94).


Rich private houses in Morocco have retained the same layout as residences in Fez of the AH 8th / AD 14th century: a bent entrance, a central courtyard surrounded by galleries, wide shallow rooms with very high, very wide, usually double-leaf, doors.
If the courtyard is planted, it becomes a ryad. The room that faces the main entrance is often a reception room. This is the most decorated room, and it has a bahw, a brace in the middle of the wall opposite the door.
The Jamai palace, which follows this general layout, is entered through a large entrance crowned with a projecting porch covered with green tiles. The ensemble is harmonious and delicate, with wooden cornices painted in blue and vermillion. The door is the result of recent alterations.
The palace includes a ryad, a reception pavilion (manzah), a courtyard, a house, a kitchen and a hammam. The ensemble is completed on the outside by annexes, including a fountain and a funduq converted into a carpenter's workshop.
Two star-shaped pools had been hollowed out of the ryad, and a rivulet is cut off by passageway covered with zellij (small tiles). This ryad is also adorned with two fountains and a portico whose seven arcades of different sizes rest on pillars. This portico leads to the main pavilion where the vizier would receive guests and which is noteworthy for its carved wood ceiling, stained-glass windows and large wooden lintels.
The construction materials and decorative elements draw inspiration from Andalusian ornamental style, but the profusion of marble, stucco, sculpted wood and ceramic marquetry gives an impression of excess.
A part of the palace is currently home to the Museum of Traditional Arts and Crafts of Meknès and the surrounding area.

View Short Description

Built in the late 19th century by a family of viziers close to Sultan Hasan I, Dar Jam'i covers a huge area and has sumptuously decorated rooms as well as a number of outbuildings and annexes. The palace, big enough to receive all of the town's dignitaries, is noteworthy for the magnificence of its interior gardens, its beautiful star-shaped pools and its zellij (small tile) channel. Handed over to the State at the beginning of the 20th century, it was used as a military hospital by the Protectorate before being converted into the Meknès Museum of Traditional Arts and Crafts in 1926.

How Monument was dated:

The dates of the work (1298–1300 / 1880–2) are given by Ibn Zaydan in Al Ithaf.

Selected bibliography:

Barrucand, M., Urbanisme princier en islam: Meknès et les villes royales islamiques post-médiévales, Paris, 1985.
Champion, P., Les villes d'art célèbres: Tanger, Fès, Meknès, Paris, 1924.
Perigny, M. de, Au Maroc: Casa, Rabat, Meknès, 1918.
Andalusian Morocco: A Discovery in Living Art, pp.70–1.

Citation of this web page:

Mohamed Mezzine "Dar al-Jam’i" in Discover Islamic Art, Museum With No Frontiers, 2021. 2021.;ISL;ma;Mon01;19;en

Prepared by: Mohamed MezzineMohamed Mezzine

Mohamed Mezzine is a heritage historian and the director of an established graduate program at the university of Fes on the history, preservation and restoration of architectural heritage in ancient (Moroccan) cities. He studied at University Mohamed V (Rabat) and obtained a Doctorat d'Etat in history from the University of Paris (7). Pr. Mezzine has been a visiting lecturer at the Universities of Metz, Tours (URBAMA) and Aix-en-Provence. He has likewise co-directed a number of joint research heritage projects involving French and Spanish academics. He has authored books and articles on the architectural heritage of the Islamic world including Fès médiévale, ed. Mohamed Mezzine (Paris : Ed. Autrement, 1992) ; “Political Power and Socio-Religious Networks in 16th-Century Fes,” in Islamic Urbanism in Human History: Political Power and Social Networks, ed. Tsugitaka Sato (London: Kegan Publ. de la Faculté des Lettres Sais-Fès, 2003). Pr. Mezzine is also a member of the national “Commission for the Preservation of Fes.”

Copyedited by: Margot Cortez
Translation by: Laurence Nunny
Translation copyedited by: Monica Allen

MWNF Working Number: MO 26


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