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A History of Art for Beginners and Students

And a second one extends from pilaster to pilaster

The form of words used for the night varies a little, ending, "There is no God but Allah. He has no companion! To Him belongs dominion, etc.;" this is called the _Ula_. The call made an hour before day is the _Ebed_, and praises the perfection of God. When one is sleeping near enough to a minaret to hear the muezzin's voice it is a pleasant sound and helps one to realize that the care of God is ever about him; the clear, Christian bell can be heard by more people, and this was originally intended as a call to prayer. (See Fig. 99.)

[Illustration: FIG. 99.--THE CALL TO PRAYER.]

The principal homes of Saracenic architecture are Syria, Egypt, Mecca, Barbary, Spain, Sicily, Turkey, Persia, and India. There are many very interesting mosques and minarets that might be mentioned had we space, but I can speak only of the mosque of Cordova, which is universally admitted to be the finest Saracenic edifice in the world (Fig. 100), and shall quote a part of the interesting description of it given by De Amicis in his delightful book called "Spain and the Spaniards."


This mosque was commenced by the Caliph Abd-er-Rahman in 786, and was completed by his son Hesham, who died 796. The great Caliph declared that he would build a mosque which should exceed all others in the world and be the Mecca of the West. De Amicis, after describing the garden which surrounds the mosque, enters, and then goes on as follows: "Imagine a forest, fancy yourself in the thickest portion of it, and that you can see nothing but the trunks of trees. So, in this mosque, on whatever side you look, the eye loses itself among the columns. It is a forest of marble whose confines one cannot discover. You follow with your eye, one by one, the very long rows of columns that interlace at every step with numberless other rows, and you reach a semi-obscure background, in which other columns still seem to be gleaming. There are nineteen naves, which extend in every direction, traversed by thirty-three others, supported (among them all) by more than nine hundred columns of porphyry, jasper, breccia, and marbles of every color. Each column upholds a small pilaster, and between them runs an arch (see plate above), and a second one extends from pilaster to pilaster, the latter placed above the former, and both of them in the shape of a horseshoe; so that, in imagining the columns to be the trunks of so many trees, the arches represent the branches, and the similitude of the mosque to a forest is complete.... How much variety there is in that edifice which at first sight seems so uniform! The proportions of the columns, the designs of the capitals, the forms of the arches change, one might say, at every step. The majority of the columns are old, and were taken from the Arabs of Northern Spain, Gaul, and Roman Africa, and some are said to have belonged to a temple of Janus, on the ruins of which was built the church that the Arabs destroyed in order to erect the mosque. Above several of the capitals one can still see traces of the crosses that were cut on them, which the Arabs broke with their chisels.... I stopped for a long time to look at the ceiling and walls of

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