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Technical Glossary


The Arabic root means 'to fold' and also means 'level; levels of earth, buildings or people'. In architecture it means a lodging area in a building; a room, a duplex, triplex, etc.  


Turkish term referring to lodging section attached to some mosques where travellers, usually mystics, could stay for three days free of charge. In the early mosques these were separate annexes, but they were incorporated into the main body of later mosques.  


A composite Arabic-Persian word meaning the 'house of the drums'. It was basically a warehouse for the storage of musical instruments. Amir tablakhana was the prince who had the right to have drums played at the gate of his palace.  


Storage box. Its most common usage means cenotaph. In Mamluk baths the word tabut meant a wooden box used as a locker by the bathers, and in mills the term was used for a flour storage place.  


Pronounced 'tad-hib'. To illuminate a manuscript.  



Taj al-‘Amud  

Capital of a column. Different capitals were used in Muslim architecture, amongst which are the ionic, Corinthian, muqarnas and bell-shaped capitals.  

Taj-i Haydari 

Red head gear worn by Turkomen of the Safavid court.  


A space designated for the public that was found in the Ottoman domestic architecture of Cairo. Mainly found in big houses, it was the hall on the ground floor allocated for receiving male visitors before they were allowed in other areas of the house. It was usually flat roofed with a façade opening onto the courtyard. The facade was divided in two parts by a supporting column. Its Anatolian equivalent is the hayat.  


An open hall of columns found in many Iranian palaces. Its origins are from Persian or Near Eastern house plans.  




Traditional clay oven with open top. 


Persian for arch.  


A square shaped area. It could be a court, a small garden in a house or a decorative panel in the shape of a square.  


Open loggia. 


Literally means 'path' or 'way'. Refers to Sufi order. 


A masonry technique where pieces of stone are inlaid in a panel of stone. The applied stones were commonly marble or semi-precious stones.  


Covering anything with metal sheets, iron or brass  


Also pronounced tastiyya. It means a small fountain.  


A composite Arabic-Persian word used to describe the place where the textiles of the Sultan were washed. It also houses the Sultan’s entire wardrobe, carpets and cushions.  


Calligraphy used for administrative documents. This is considered one the six 'classical hands'. 


Literally means leaf tendril. It is used to describe leaf work or scroll work in Islamic art.  


Circumambulation, mainly with reference to that around the Ka'ba in Mecca. 


Using a transparent glaze for pottery  


See Tikiyya


A cursive script that is bold and monumental. This is considered one of the six 'classical hands'. 


A Sufi hospice. This term was used during the Ottoman period, as it replaced the term khanqa . The usage of the Ottoman structure does not vary from the usage of the Ayyubid or the Mamluk khanqa, however the plan differed. Tikiyyas flourished all around the Ottoman Empire until World War I when most of them were abandoned. A tikiyya consists of an open courtyard surrounded by arcades on its four sides. Surrounding the arcades were the Sufi cells, which were usually small vaulted rooms. Also included were a small mosque and a graveyard.  


Covered market. 

Timurids (1370 – 1507 A.D.) 

This great Turkic dynasty founded by Timur Lang who claimed descent from Jingis Khan, was the last greatest Muslim dynasty of Steppe origin. Timur’s father ruled Kish in Transoxiana, which allowed Timur to create a base in Samarqand. From there he conquered areas to the west, thus gaining power over Iran. His first campaigns were in Khawarizm and Khurasan., after which he went into Iran and conquered Muzaffarid and Jalayrid lands. Further west he defeated the invincible Bayazid I in Ankara in the year 1402 A.D., three years before his death when he had set out to conquer China. To the north he penetrated Moscow. Timur's descendents continued to control the Timurid empire, but by the mid-fifteenth century A.D. western provinces were lost, and their rule ended in 1507 A.D. when Heart was overtaken by the Turkmans. Cultural patronage was an important aspect of Timurid court life, where the remains of Timur's palace Aq Saray, in Shahr-i Sabz, show the grandeur of this chieftain. He attested that the measure of the genius of an empire is its buildings, and would thus send all the craftsmen from conquered territories to Samarqand. After his campaign in India, Timur built one of the biggest mosques in the Muslim world in Samarqand, the Mosque of Bibi Khanum. The shrine complex of Khuja Ahmad Yasavi in Jassy and Timur’s Mausoleum, Gur-i Mir in Samarqand are yet other examples of the Timur's grandeur. His descendants were also great patrons of both architecture and the arts of the book. His son Shah Rukh moved the capital to Heart, transforming it into one of the most important cities in the history of Islamic culture. Gawhar Shad, Shah Rukh’s wife, commissioned several buildings throughout Timurid territories, the most important of which is her Friday Mosque in Mashhad. Ulug Beg, Shah Rukh’s son, also commissioned several observatories and refurbished the Registan Square in Samarqand by building his madrasa. The Shahname of Firdawsi, the Khamsa of Nizami, to name a couple, were commissioned by most of Timur’s descendants. Historians, like Hafiz-i Abru, great mystics, like Abd al-Rahman Jami and painters like Bihzad were appreciated and sponsored by the Timurids.  


Inscription band found on the façade of a building. 


Derived from Turkish, it means the artistic signature of the Ottoman Sultan, which contained his name and a victory phrase drawn beautifully. It was used to certify documents by the Sultan.  

Tulunids (868 - 905 A.D.) 

This was a minor dynasty established by Ahmad ibn Tulun (d. 884 A.D.) which ruled briefly over Egypt and Syria. As a subgovernor of Egypt for the Abassids, Ibn Tulun seized the chance of the weakening Abassids to create a private army and take over Egypt in 868 A.D. Although the Tulunids expanded into Syria, the Abassids still managed to reclaim their lost power in 905 A.D. by taking over Egypt and destroying the Tulunid capital. The celebrated mosque of Ibn Tulun (876-879 A.D.) however remains standing.  


Grave or tomb. In Mamluk documents it was used to denote the mausoleum with all its dependencies.  


Mausoleum in Turkish.  


See Ithna 'Asharis