174 BUILDINGS OF THE MOHAMMEDANS.
signifies the name; jOf kheper, the scarabaeus or beetle, the prin¬
ciple of genesis and regeneration. The precise meaning of the
symbol V is unknown, but it is read sam, and signifies union. It
is frequently observed at the foot of statues, entwined with aquatic
plants, where it is symbolical of the union of Upper and Lower
Egypt, and perhaps of the union of this world with the next. The
lock 9 on the temple of a figure marks it as a child, generally the
offspring of the gods or of the kings.
IX. Buildings of the Mohammedans.
Mosques. Dwelling Houses.
By Franz-Bey, Architect at Cairo.
The Mohammedan style of architecture in the valley of the Nile
was not, as might perhaps be expected, the immediate successor
of the Egyptian, but was separated from it by that of the early
Christian epoch, a period of six or seven centuries. This new style
was not of native growth, but was imported from abroad, being of
Arabian origin, considerably modified by the forms of art which the
victorious Arabs found in vogue among the Byzantines, and by
those of Persian art of the era of the Sassanides. Different as the
Arabian buildings at Baghdad and Cairo may appear from those at
Tunis and in Spain, they all possess certain features in common.
The fundamental idea of all Mohammedan architecture originated
in the nomadic life of the Arabs. The tent was the prototype,
alike of the house and of the temple. The walls in particular, with
their carpet-like decoration, and their extensive, unrelieved sur¬
faces, remind one of this origin. This style of architecture is that
of the fickle children of the desert, whose edifices, even after they
had become a settled and stationary nation, continue to convey an
idea of unsubstantiality, and who never attained to a clear per¬
ception of the proportion to be observed between the support and
the burden to be borne. This defect is less apparent in cases where
the Arabian builders were brought under the influence of more
civilised nations, where they employed columns, entablatures, and
other fragments of ruined edifices which they found available, or
where, as sometimes happened, they were aided by Byzantine or
other foreign architects, than in purely Arabian edifices like the
Alhambra in Spain; but in every case the national characteristic
is more or less distinctly traceable.
The buildings most immediately connected with the national
traditions are the Religious Edifices, the leading feature of which
consists of the Court, such as that seen at Mecca, which dates from
a period even earlier than that of Mohammed himself. The walls