Thursday, March 29, 2012

From church to mosque, by a Jewish architect

Continuing our visit to the Circassian village of Kfar Kama in the Galilee (starting with yesterday's post) . . .

Here is a modern map showing the Caucasus.
But back in the 19th century when the Circassian tribes were slaughtered and driven out by the Russians, most of the area bordering the Caucasus was the Russian Empire.
Ibek, our guide in Kfar Kama, told our group that just last year Georgia became the first country to recognize the genocide of 1.5 million Circassians.

Most of the one million Circassians who survived the expulsion and the massacres ended up in the Ottoman lands, as the Turkish Sultan saw them as experienced fighters and thus encouraged them to settle in sparsely populated areas of the Ottoman Empire, including the Galilee.

The new mosque in Kfar Kama is so unusual, don't you think?!
Maybe because its architect is Jewish!

I read this in the Jerusalem Post :
"The original mosque had closely resembled a Circassian church, said Tehowha [head of the museum]. He told us that Circassians had been Christians until they converted to Islam in the 17th century. Then, instead of building mosques for their prayers to Allah, they continued worshiping in churches. Not surprisingly, when they came to this country, they erected mosques that resembled the Circassian churches. In 1970, however, the [more than one hundred year old] mosque here was torn down and this structure put up in its place. "

Our own guide, Ibek, said the shape of the doors of the new mosque recalls the shape of their former houses of prayer.

He said the white stones in the minaret make it visible in the night.
And the 5-daily calls to prayer are done by a real human, not by a recording.

Please click once or twice and enlarge the photos to appreciate the details.

The mosque is Mamluk style.
The majority of the leaders of the Mamluk kingdom were of Adyghe origin.
(Adyghe, meaning "noble," is what the Cherkessim, as they are known in Hebrew, call themselves. )

We spent several hours in the village and in the museum but this is the only woman I saw the whole time, and I'm glad I did.
The Circassian World News Blog, in an interesting post on Kfar Kama, says
"The village's older ladies are dressed traditionally, while the younger generation is modern to the point of being Yuppified."
(Linking to inSPIREd Sunday.)


L. D. Burgus said...

It is an interesting building to see. Ir does seem to be a lot creative than the standard designs.

Susie of Arabia said...

Fascinating! I didn't know this style was called Mamluk, but one of my favorite mosques here in Jeddah reminds me of this one, so it must be the same style. What a wonderful trip you are having.

Fran said...

That is fascinating - thanks Dina!

Sara said...

Those black and white stripes are very striking. This is a fascinating history you are telling us...all new to me. Thank you!

Pieces of Sunshine said...

Quite an unusual mosque, almost reminiscent of a small castle.

thomas said...

A beautiful minaret and interesting history.

VP said...

I like the building, it looks surely different! We have an old basilica in Florence (Santa Croce), designed in part by a Jewish architect, and it has a huge Magen David on the facade.

Birdman said...

That tower grabs the eye. Again, thanks so much for your links and info. Informative.

JM said...

I love it! Great architecture.

Cafe au lait said...

Beautiful shots!

My entry.

Monika B said...

Photos Jerusalem mosque revelation.

Tom said...

Very interesting!

VioletSky said...

This Mosque is beautiful.
Many of the ones around here are refurbished storefronts. Perhaps this is only until they get more money to build something permanent and glorious.

RedPat said...

Quite unusual in style!
I was shocked to see the comment from Birdman. I still miss him & his blog.

Dina said...

RedPat, yes, dear Birdman's sudden death was so sad for all of us, his readers and followers. May he rest in peace. I'll bet he is writing up there.