Islam mosque is not only the holy place where Muslims fulfill their divine services, but also the miniature of Islamic architecture. The Islamic idea of beauty is reflected in those majestic domes, lofty towers, and marks of crescent. Generally speaking, the architectural styles of Chinese Islam mosque can be divided into two groups: one reserves the Arabian style and the other reflects Chinese flavor to a large degree.
Since Islam is spread to China from Western and Central Asia, a large number of Chinese Islam mosques reserve the strong Arabian style. Their layout is asymmetric. Main hall is located facing the gate. Two round spires stand on each side of the large gatehouse. The top of the spire is shaped into a new moon, the symbol of mosque. The flat-topped Hall of Prayer is supported by a number of wooden props. Vaulted roofs, doors and windows are decorated with colorful flower patterns and delicate paintings, full of distinctive Uygur features. This type of mosques is situated mainly in Xinjiang. Id Kah Mosque is a good example.
Chinese traditional mosque is different. It fuses the Chinese and Western Asian architectural styles. The whole layout is composed of a series of courtyards distributed orderly along the central axis. Decorated archways, screen walls or other attached buildings stand in front of the main wooden gate. The Hall of Prayer is wooden-framed with bucket arch. The Minaret, where the calls to prayer resound five times a day, is a multi-storied pavilion. Architectural ornaments emphasize the Islamic content. Chinese sentiment is fully expressed in exquisite carvings, censers, rocks and corridors. Arabian characters and beautiful flower patterns are painted on the wooden pillars and walls. Many of them are considered to be precious works of art. The entire construction reveals a religious solemnity as well as affording a peaceful atmosphere. The representative ones of this type include Ox Street Mosque in Beijing.
|Ox Street Mosque, Beijing |
Though these two types of Islam mosques differ in some ways, there is one thing in common, that is, animal images are never used for decoration according to Muslim doctrines, which is one of the most important principals in the mosque construction.
Being a great treasure of Chinese national culture, Islam mosque agglutinates the wisdom of Muslims for generations. It is the outcome of cultural communication between China and Arabia and the witness of their friendliness.
Other famous ones include Great Mosque in Xian, Dongguan Mosque in Xining and Southern Mosque in Urumqi.