God is beautiful and He loves beauty

Technical Glossary


A collarless robe open at the front from top to bottom.  


Arabic for successor. The Qur’an (II: 30) describes Adam as the primordial norm and as Caliph, the representative of God on earth. Man in this sense is the vicegerent of God on earth. In a historical context however, the word Caliph referred first to the four rightly guided caliphs after the death of the Prophet Muhammad (Abu Bakr, ‘Umar, ‘Uthman and ‘Ali) and subsequently to any Muslim ruler, in various dynasties.  


Turkish word referring to a Friday or congregational mosque. The smaller mosque is referred to as mescit


Derived from the Persian karawan (company of travelers) and serai (large inn). The caravanserai provided safe accommodation for travelling merchants and their goods. They functioned as centres of commerce and artisan manufacture, though not all buildings of this type and function were called caravanserai. Other terms describing the same building were khan, wikala, funduq or ribat. The use of multiple terms was a mere reflection of regional differences.  

Chahar Bagh 

Persian and Mughal word referring to a garden divided into four equal sections around two central axes. 

Chahar Taq 

Square open structure covered with a dome, with an arched opening in each side.  


A sloping stone supported on heavy corbels and placed overhanging at roof level to direct rainwater away from the walls of the building. Commonly used in Mughal architecture. 


A domed kiosk built on pillars used extensively in Mughal architecture on the tops of palaces, mosques and tombs. In Mughal architecture a chatri was decorative, while in Hindu architecture, which is where it is derived from, it was used as a cenotaph.  


Chinese motifs used in Islamic decoration. These often include peony scrolls and lotuses. 

Circassian Mamluks 

See Burji Mamluks


Last page of a manuscript which includes information about its date, author, provenance, etc.  


Also referred to as 'cresting' and mean battlements. They are parapets of alternating spacing of solid and open intervals, usually decorating mosques or fortresses. From its early usage in Achaemenid Iran, different styles of crenellations developed, such as the doll-like shapes associated with Ibn Tulun, and trefoils of complicated forms used by the Burji Mamluks.  


See Crenellations

Cruciform Plan 

Four vaulted iwans facing each other and surround a court (sahn).  

Cuerda Seca 

From Spanish, meaning 'dry cord'. A glazing technique for ceramics which separates the colors by using a line of manganese dioxide and grease, thus preventing the colours from running during the firing process.