See also:Tunisia, 36 m . S. by W. by
See also:rail from Susa, and about 8o m. due S. from the capital .
See also:Kairawan is built in an open plain a little west of a stream which flows south to the Sidi-el-Hani lake . Of the luxuriant gardens and
See also:olive groves mentioned in the early Arabic accounts of the place hardly a remnant is
See also:left . Kairawan, in shape an irregular oblong, is surrounded by a crenellated
See also:wall with towers and bastions and five
See also:gates . The city, however, spreads beyond the walls, chiefly to the south and west . Some of the finest treasures of Saracenic
See also:art in Tunisia are in Kairawan; but the city suffered greatly from the vulgarization which followed the
See also:conquest, and also from the blundering attempts of the French to restore buildings falling into ruin . The streets have been paved and planted with trees, but the
See also:town retains much of its
See also:Oriental aspect . The houses are built
See also:round a central courtyard, and
See also:present nothing but
See also:bare walls to the street . The chief buildings are the mosques, which are open to Christians, Kairawan being the only town in Tunisia where this
See also:privilege is granted . In the
See also:northern quarter stands the
See also:great mosque founded by Sidi Okba
See also:ibn Nafi, and containing his
See also:shrine and the tombs of many rulers of Tunisia . To the outside it presents a heavy buttressed wall, with little of either grandeur or
See also:grace .
It consists of three parts: a cloistered
See also:court, from which rises the massive and stately
See also:minaret, the maksura or mosque proper, and the
See also:vestibule . The maksura is a rectangular domed chamber divided by 296 marble and porphyry columns into 17 aisles, each
See also:aisle having 8
See also:arches . The central aisle is wider than the others, the columns being arranged by threes . All the columns are
See also:Roman or
See also:Byzantine, and are the spoil of many
See also:ancient cities .
See also:Access to the central aisle is gained through a
See also:door of sculptured
See also:wood known as the Beautiful
See also:Gate . It has an inscription with the record of its construction . The walls are of painted
See also:work; the mimbar or
See also:pulpit is of carved wood, each
See also:panel bearing a different design . The court is surrounded by a
See also:arcade with coupled columns . In all the mosque contains 439 columns, including two of alabaster given by one of the Byzantine emperors . To the
See also:Mahommedan mind the crowning distinction of the
See also:building is that through divine inspiration the founder was enabled to set it absolutely true to
See also:Mecca . The mosque of Sidi Okba is the prototype of many other notable mosques (see MOSQUE) . Of greater
See also:external beauty than that of Sidi Okba is the mosque of the Three Gates .
Cuficinscriptions on the
See also:facade record its erection in the 9th and its restoration in the 15th century A.D . Internally the mosque is a single chamber supported by sixteen Roman columns . One of the finest specimens of Moorish architecture in Kairawan is the zawia of Sidi Abid-el-Ghariani (d. c . A.D . 1400), one of the Almoravides, in whose
See also:family is the hereditary governorship of the city . The entrance, a door in a false arcade of black and
See also:white marble, leads into a court whose arches support an upper
See also:colonnade . The town contains many other notable buildings, but none of such importance as the mosque of the
See also:Companion (i.e. of the
See also:Prophet), outside the walls to the N.W . This mosque is specially sacred as possessing what are said to be three hairs of the Prophet's
See also:beard, buried with the
See also:saint, who was one of the companions of Mahomet . (This
See also:legend gave rise to the
See also:report that the
See also:tomb contained the remains of Mahomet's
See also:barber.) The mosque consists of several courts and
See also:chambers, and contains some beautiful stained
See also:glass . The court which forms the entrance to the shrine of the saint is richly adorned with tiles and plaster-work, and is surrounded by an arcade of white marble columns, supporting a painted wooden roof . The minaret is faced with tiles and is surmounted by a gilded
See also:crescent . The 19th-century mosque of Sidi Amar Abada, also outside the wall, is in the
See also:form of a
See also:cross and is crowned with seven cupolas .
In the suburbs are huge cisterns, attributed to the 9th century, which stillsupply the city with
See also:water . The cemetery covers a large
See also:area and has thousands of Cufic and Arabic inscriptions . Formerly famous for its carpets and its oil of
See also:roses, Kairawan is now known in northern Africa rather for copper vessels, articles in
See also:leather, potash and saltpetre . The town has a population of about 20,000, including a few
See also:hundred Europeans . Arab historians relate the foundation of Kairawan by Okba with miraculous circumstances (Tabari ii . 63; Yaqut iv . 213) . The date is variously given (see Weil, Gesch. d . Chalifen, i . 283 seq.) ; according to Tabari it must have been before 67o . The legend says that Okba determined to found a city which should be a rallying-point for the followers of Mahomet in Africa . He led his companions into the
See also:desert, and having exhorted the serpents and
See also:wild beasts, in the name of the Prophet, to retire, he struck his
See also:spear into the ground exclaiming " Here is your Kairawan " (resting-place), so naming the city.' In the 8th century Kairawan was the capital of the province of Ifrikia governed by amirs appointed by the caliphs .
Later it became the capital of the Aghlabite princes, thereafter following the fortunes of the successive rulers of the
See also:country (see TUNISIA:
See also:History) . After Mecca and Medina Kairawan is the most sacred city in the eyes of the Mahommedans of Africa, and
See also:constant pilgrimages are made to its shrines . Until the
See also:time of the French occupation no Christian was allowed to pass through the gates without a
See also:special permit from the bey, whilst Jews were altogether forbidden to approach the
See also:holy city . Contrary to expectation no opposition was offered by the citizens to the occupation of the place by the French troops in 1881 . On that occasion the native troops hastened to the mosques to perform their devotions; they were followed by
See also:European soldiers, and the mosques having thus been " violated " have remained open ever since to non-Mahommedans . See
See also:Murray's Handbook to Algeria and
See also:Tunis, by
See also:Sir R . L . Playfair (1895) ; A . M . Broadley, The Last Punic War: Tunis Past and Present (1882) and H . Saladin, Tunis et Kairouan (1908) .
KAIRA, or KIIEDA
There are no comments yet for this article.
Do not copy, download, transfer, or otherwise replicate the site content in whole or in part.
Links to articles and home page are encouraged.