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The Minbar of Saladin

Reconstructing a Jewel of Islamic Art

Lynette Singer

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The remarkable story of one of the masterpieces of Islamic art


This is the remarkable story of one of the masterpieces of Islamic art, the Minbar of Saladin. Made in the middle of the 12th century, this wooden pulpit, perhaps the finest ever seen, stood in the al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem for some 800 years until it was burned down in 1969 by a tourist claiming to be acting on orders from God. Its loss to the Muslim world was immense and so the decision was taken by the mosque's guardians, the Jordanian royal family, to rebuild it.

Nobody, however, could have guessed just how complicated the process would be, nor how long it would take. With the secrets of the original construction all but lost, to rebuild the Minbar of Saladin required not only the unravelling of its astonishingly complex geometry, but also the revival of almost extinct crafts. The solutions to these problems were often to be found in unexpected places, and involved scholars and craftsmen from around the world.

This book is the first to document the minbar's creation, destruction and reconstruction. However, it is also a meditation on the beauty of sacred art and the fragility of our cultural heritage. Packed with fascinating images, both of the minbar itself and of other key works, it will appeal to all those interested in Islamic art, sacred geometry, the history of the Holy Land, and the revival of traditional crafts.

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'Will appeal to those interested in Islamic Art in general but to those with a particular interest in geometery it may open a door to a deeper understanding of Islamic Art'
Muslim World Book Review

Product Information

Book Details

Format: Hardback

Size: 28.0 x 24.0 cm

Extent: 208 pp

Illustrations: 213

Publication date: 20 October 2008

ISBN: 9780500238431

Contents List

Foreword by HRH Prince Ghazi Bin Muhammad of Jordan • Introduction by HRH Prince Charles • 1. Crossroads of Conflict: The Minbar of Saladin’s Place in History • 2. The Destruction of the Minbar and the Aftermath • 3. Islamic Art: Sacred Geometry, Harmony and Balance • 4. Rebuilding the Minbar: The Quest for Lost Knowledge and Skills • 5. The Solution: The Man Who Solved the Puzzle • 6. The Minbar Reconstructed • Further Reading

About the Author

Lynette Singer is Managing Director of West Park Pictures. She is the editor, with Robin Wood, of Peoples of Africa, and author, with André Singer, of Divine Magic:TheWorld of the Supernatural, which accompanied a Channel 4 television series.

List of Contributors

Lynette Singer