Thieves grab Mameluke knockers

Nevine El-Aref , Wednesday 16 May 2012

Two copper door knockers belonging to the Qagmas Al-Ishaqi and Al-Gay Al-Yussufi mosques have been reported missing

Al-Ishaqi mosque

The two Circassian Mameluke mosques of Qagmas Al-Ishaqi and Al-Gay Al-Yussufi, both of which are open for worship, stand in Al-Darb Al-Ahmar at the heart of Islamic Cairo. It was at some point between last night and this morning that priceless copper door knockers from both were removed by unidentified thieves.

The Ministry of State for Antiquities (MSA) has started all legal procedures in an attempt to retrieve the two objects and police investigations are in full swing.

MSA minister Mohamed Ibrahim told Ahram Online that this is not the first time that Islamic mosques, under the supervision of Ministry of the Endowments, were subject to robberies due to lack of supervision.

"We are now preparing a protocol to be signed by both ministries in order to tighten security measures on all mosques that are listed on Egypt’s Islamic Antiquities List and are under the supervision of Ministry of Endowments," he asserted.

The Al-Gay Al-Yussufi mosque was built by Prince Seifeddin Al-Gay in AD 1373. It consists of a large open yard surrounded with four Iwans (ceiled courtyard with arcades), among them the Qibla Iwan (the one pointing in the direction of Mecca). Its inner walls are covered with marble and a wooden Mimbar (Pulpit) embellished with ivory geometric designs.

The Qagmas Al-Isshaqi mosque was built by Prince Qagmas Al-Isshaqi, another Circassian Mameluke, though it is better known as the Abu Hurayba mosque, because Sheikh Abu Hurayba lived in its vicinity and was buried right next to the building. It is one of the most important mosques built in the time of the Circassian Mamelukes in general and under Sultan Qaitbay in particular, due to its distinctive architectural and decorative characteristics.

It is a hanging mosque under which a collection of shops is found. The mosque consists of a central court covered by a skylight lined with two large Iwans. At the centre of the Qibla Iwan stand a beautiful marble Mihrab (prayer niche) and a wooden Minbar (pulpit) ornamented with ivory-inlaid stars.

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