Unit 5 General Meeting
"Art and Architecture in Islam: Diversity and Tradition"


The Islamic Area Studies Project Unit5 (Islamic History and Culture) , under
the sponsorship of Group 5-A (The Development of Art and Scholarship) has hosted a general meeting entitled "Architecture in Islam: Diversity andTradition" as follows:


Date: Sunday January 23, 2000

Location: Institute of Oriental Culture, The University of Tokyo


1. JINNAI Hidenobu (Faculty of Engineering, Hosei University)
"Amalfi and Arcos: Urban Structure of Mediterranean Cities"

2. IZUMIDA Hideo (Faculty of Engineering,Toyohashi University of Technology)
"Javanese Acceptance of Islam in Urban Form: Case Study of Lasem, a Port Town on the North Coast of Java"

3. OIKAWA Kiyoaki (Graduate School of Frontier Sciences, The University of Tokyo)
"Dwelling Forms of Fortified Villages-Traditional Houses in Yemen and Morocco"

4. Bernard O'KANE (School of Humanities and Social Sciences, The American
University in Cairo)
"The Uzbek Architecture of Afghanistan"


HANEDA Masashi (Institute of Oriental Culture, University of Tokyo, Islamic Area Studies Project Unit 5 Chair )

1. Presentation by JINNAI

JINNAI reported on two cities on the European side of the Mediterranean with similarities to Islamic cities, explaining the features of their spatial structure through citing field research results. Amalfi has developed since the early Middle Ages as a maritime city. Although never under direct Islamic rule, the city received strong Arab/Islamic cultural influences through trade, as can be found in certain architectural styles and spatial forms. Arab influences are also found at the level of urban structure, such as in the formation of commercial space and a particular regard for privacy in housing design.

The ground plans for Alcos in Andalusia were formed under Islamic rule; the church in the center was built later on the ruins of the grand mosque, the palace of the aristocratic Alcos family on the remains of the Arab castle. Typical Andalusian houses feature the patio, an element passed down from the Middle ages. These patios, however, differed from those in Arabic cities, having adapted to a predominantly Christian society. The patios developed into a form exposed to the streets. Also, while Arab residences had housed extended families, collective housing for groups of unrelated families became common.

2. Presentation by IZUMIDA

While in Southeast Asia local powers have been converting to Islam since the late 13th century, their role in urban history has remained for the large part ignored. In his presentation IZUMIDA addressed the case of Lasem, a city situated in the northern coastal region of Java, and the changes in urban facilities and structure which occurred during the Hindu Kingdom era and continued through the Islamic Kingdom.

Islamic kingdoms formed in the region in the 16th century, beginning with the Demak Kingdom, followed by Lasem, Gresik, Surabaya, Banten and Ceribon. New capitals were erected in each process. A comparative examination of the formative processes reveals how Lasam has essentially maintained the basic framework of the original Hindu city through the Islamic period. In other words, acccording to the orientation and zoning plan of the Hindu capital, the mosque in Lasem was constructed west of the plaza. This is thought to have had lasting effects on the succeeding capitals of Pajang and Matarang.

3. Presentation by OIKAWA

In the traditional communities of Morocco and Yemen, enclosed and towering fortress-like structures are often found. In the presentation we shall examine, through case studies of such "fortress-communities", the spatial features of those dwelling forms. The qasaba is a form of community typical to the southern region of the Atlas mountains. In qasabas, which apparently originate from a distinctly Berber form of residence, the dwellings are characterized by minimal exterior openings, surrounding high walls, and in some cases watchtowers. In general the villages consist of residences with courtyards. In contrast, dwellings with towers prevail among Yemenese communities. In the old district of the capital Sana'a, the surrounding mountain communities and the city of Shibam known as "the skyscraper in the desert", there are concentrations of such dwellings, each and every one a novel sight, at times reaching seven stories in height.

The "fortress-communities" are protection from the "three e's": namely, enemies, elements, and eyes. These refer to invading outsiders; the harsh climatic conditions of sunlight, hot winds, sand and dust; and the visual exposure to others which Islamic women in particular must avoid. While secluded from the outside, concentrated and complex residential space developed within, where people have provided spatial devices to procure the conditions for living: sunlight, ventilation, and privacy; a remarkable example of adaptation to the conditions imposed by the environment.

4.Presentation by O'KANE

O'KANE, in his presentation on five structures erected in Balkh, Afghanistan and Mazar-I Sharif, disproved the usual theory of their Timurid-period construction. The five structures discussed were the two mausolea which existed south of the Mazar-I Sharif shrine until the 1930s, the Mausoleum of Khwaja Abu Nasr Parsa, the Mausoleum of Khwaja 'Akkasha, and the madrasa of Sobhan Qoli Khan. Refering to historical sources and styles he maintained that the buildings are in fact of the Shaibanid period, and gave a detailed commentary on the architectural styles of Shaibanid period Afghanistan using photos from the turn of the century and the 1970s.

5. Comments by HANEDA

Following the four presentations, HANEDA, acting as commentator, reflected on the differences between the studies by the Japanese speakers--varying yet limited to an engineering perspective--and O'KANE's presentation, which cited historical sources. He pointed out how in Japan architectural history was maldistributed due to the circumstances of academia in general.

In response to the arguments of "panorama" and "view" by the Japanese speakers, he pointed out how documents from the middle ages do not give evidence of the hills of Muqattam in Cairo or the fortress of Aleppo used for viewing the city, and how the Islamic world would normally forbid the viewing of others' lives in that respect. It is interesting how two scholars have focused on an aspect unique to the Islamic world. Appreciating the panoramic view of Herat from garden architecture (bagh) built outside the city in the Timurid period may be one example of "viewing " in the Islamic world. He also questioned the arguments put forth by OIKAWA, on the "Islamicness" of fortified cities and the "gaze of others" , as well as the more general issues of "Islamicness" in architecture and cities. To O'Kane he mentioned how there is no need to reach complete conclusions in arguing "Islamicness" in studing Islamic shrines. Finally he stated the importance of integrating historiography with field research, and conducting future research where the two complement each other.