Since what Bannister Fletcher terms Saracenic architecture in India derives from the great Muslim civilizations in Arabia, Syria, Egypt, Turkey, and Iran, he much of his discussion of this style occurs in earlier portions of A History of Architecture on the Comparative Method. He divides Saracenic architecture into two forms or periods, the Indian Saracenic and the Mogul.

In transcribing the following paragraphs from the rough text in the Internet Archive online version, I have changed the formatting for easier reading, added images that appear in the original and also ones that come from other sources and I have omitted some cross references to comparative material, such as examples from ancient Greece. — George P. Landow]

Indian Saracenic must have been influenced by the remains of the Sassanian Empire (A.D. 226- 641). The various dynasties, with their dates, have been given under Historical. These periods overlap consider- ably, and render the progress of the style difficult to classify shortly. Only a few of the principal structures can be even mentioned. The use of marble and sandstone gives a monumental character to the buildings, not possessed by other types of Saracenic architecture. The dome on the square plan is used, but the stalactite pendentive appears to have been uncommon, its place being taken by a peculiar form of arching and cor- belling in horizontal courses (No. 294j). Colossal pointed portal arches, with semi-domes (No. 294E)and round minarets,are special features.

Delhi, the capital of the Pathan dynasty in the thirteenth century, became the capital of the Indian Mahometan Empire, and may be compared in its architectural importance with Athens, Rome, or Constantinople. Amongst numerous ruins of mosques and tombs are the Kutub Mosque and Kutub Minaret, a fine model of the latter being at the Indian Museum, South Kensington.

The Tomb of Shere Shah, at Sasseram, stands on a platform with angle pavilions, in the middle of a sheet of water. It is octagonal on plan, surmounted by a dome, as are also the angles at the receding stages.

The Jumma Musjid (i.e., principal mosque), Jaunpore (1419), and the Atala Musjid, have pointed keel-arches and bracket capitals, with roofs of flat slabs.

The Jumma Musjid, Ahmedabad (1411), shows the influence of Hindu trabeated architecture in conjunction with the pointed arch. It has fifteen domes of different heights, each supported on twelve pillars.

The celebrated Jumma Musjid, Mandu (1405-1432), consists of an inclosed space 290 feet by 275 feet, having a square court- yard, surrounded on each side by arcades of eleven pointed arches. The piers supporting these are of red sandstone, and numberless pointed domes crown the spaces between them.

The Adinah Mosque is at Gaur, the ancient capital of Bengal. The arcades surrounding the rectangle are crowned by no less than 385 domes of similar design. The architecture of this province is influenced by the absence of stone. Brick is the building material, and an essentially arcuated style is the result.

At Kalburgah is a mosque which is a deviation from the normal type, in that the whole area, 216 feet by 176 feet, was roofed in by a series of domes, light being introduced through high pointed arched openings in the outer walls.

Bijapur possesses some famous examples, erected under the Adil Shaki dynasty. The Jumma Musjid, Bijapur (a. d. 1557- 1579) (No. 294 H, j), occupies a rectangle of 257 feet by 331 feet. It consists of a series of squares, each covered with a flat dome. In this building and the Tomb of Mahmvid are domes with singular pendentives. The latter building has a dome, 97 feet in diameter, placed on a platform formed by intersecting pendentive arches carried from each alternate pier; thus the space to be covered is reduced, and the weight of the pendentives acting inwards tends to counteract the outward thrust of the dome, as at the Jumma Musjid, Bijapur (No. 294j).

Related Material Including Nineteenth-Century Engravings


Fletcher, Banister, and Banister F. Fletcher. A History of Architecture on the Comparative Method for the Student, Craftsman, and Amateur. 5th ed. London: B. T. Batsford, 1905.

Last modified 22 July 2020