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Mosques in China: Architecture & Aesthetics

One of the oldest Mosques in the world, from the 7th century is in China. Chinese Mosques are often built in a pagoda style with a combination of both Chinese & Islamic aesthetics, unlike the familiar architecture of Mosques with domes & minarets.

In China, mosques are called Qīng Zhēn Sì (清真寺, Temples of the Pure Truth). Other names include Huí Huí Sì (回回寺 Hui people's temple), Lǐ Bài Sì (礼拜寺 Temple of worship), Zhēn Jiào Sì (真教寺 Temple of the True Teaching) or Qīng Jìng Sì (清净寺 "Pure and clean temple")

Chinese Islamic architecture reflects the local architecture in its style. It is a combination of Chinese & Islamic styles. However, in western China mosques resemble those of Iran & Central Asia, with tall, slender minarets, curvy arches & dome shaped roofs Xiaopiyuan Mosque.

Historical record shows that Xiaopiyuan Mosque in Xi'an, Shaanxi was built in the late Tang Dynasty (618-907); it was one of the four mosques in Xian in 1107. Xiaopiyuan Mosque is one of the earliest Islamic buildings in Xian. Interior view of Xiaopiyuan Mosque.

Xiaopiyuan Mosque is in traditional Chinese palace architectural style combined with Islamic elements with four courtyards. A female prayer room is in the first courtyard. A true hidden gem of Hui Muslim art & architecture Ceiling details of Xiaopiyuan Mosque.

Interior of the prayer hall in Xiaopiyuan Mosque. Traditionally, Hui Muslims speak Chinese & use Chinese characters. However, when it comes to mosques, Chinese calligraphy usually appears outside the prayer hall, the inside with Quranic verses in Arabic.

The Great Mosque of Xi'an (Chinese: 西安大清真寺) is one of the largest premodern mosques in China.  Although the mosque was first built in the year 742 AD, its current form was largely constructed in 1384 AD during Emperor Hongwu's reign of the Ming dynasty.

Like the majority of Chinese mosques built between the Ming & Qing periods, the Great Mosque of Xi'an combines a traditional Chinese architectural form with Islamic functionality. The mosque is oriented toward west, the direction of Mecca Arabic written in a Chinese aesthetic.

One of its notable features of the Great Mosque of Xi'an is the carving of the entire Quran on wooden panels. The interior of the Mosque is decorated in a traditional Chinese style.

The Huaisheng Mosque 广州怀圣寺 also known as the Lighthouse Mosque, is the main mosque of Guangzhou. Rebuilt many times over its history, it is traditionally thought to have been originally built over 1,300 years ago in 627 making it one of the oldest mosques in the world.

The most unusual feature of the Huaisheng Mosque is its pointed 36 metre minaret, the Guangta or Kwangtah. Although this meant the "Plain Pagoda" in reference to its unadorned surface, it is also sometimes taken to mean ‘lighthouse’ & gave the mosque its alternate name.

Huaisheng Mosque is traditionally said to have been built in 672 by Sa'd ibn Abi Waqqas, an uncle of the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ. Beautiful Arabic calligraphy inside Huaisheng Mosque.

Niujie Masjid is the oldest mosque in Beijing, China. It was first built in 996 during the Liao Dynasty & was reconstructed as well as enlarged under the Kangxi Emperor (r. 1661–1722) of the Qing Dynasty. The mosque follows the norms of traditional Chinese architectural style.

Beautiful interior details of Niujie Masjid, in a Chinese Islamic style.

Shaanxi Grand Mosque, also known as Dongda Mosque, was built in the Qing Dynasty. It is the largest mosque in Urumqi & can accommodate thousands of people to worship at the same time. The mosque's architecture combines traditional Chinese forms with Islamic decor.

Beautiful interior details of Shaanxi Grand Mosque

Green Mosque, Turpan, China Located in the center of the XinJiang province in an area known as the "Turpan Depression", the lowest & hottest place in China. This a close up of the entrance and two central minarets to 'the green mosque.'

The Jinan Great Southern Mosque is the oldest mosque in the city of Jinan. Established during the Yuan dynasty in 1295. Most of the present structures were erected during the Ming dynasty in 1436 & 1492. The style of the mosque is similar to a Chinese temple.

The Great Mosque of Hohhot 呼和浩特清真大寺 in Huimin District, Hohhot, China is the oldest & largest mosque in Inner Mongolia. Designed with both Arab & Chinese architecture, the Mosque was constructed in 1693 by the Hui people. It was then renovated in 1789 and 1923.

The Great Mosque of Hohhot was designed in both a Chinese & Arab style, & was built with black bricks. It covers an area of 4,000 m2. It has one minaret with a height of 15 meters & a public bath Beautiful interior details of the Mosque, notice the Arabic calligraphy panels.

Bukui Mosque in Qiqihar, Heilongjiang, China was built during the Qing Dynasty & listed in 2006 as a Major Site to Be Protected for Its Historical and Cultural Value at the National Level. It is the largest and oldest mosque in the province.

This Mosque in Zharkent, Kazakhstan was built by a Chinese architect in 1886 using wood from local fir trees and is consturcted entirely without nails.

This beautiful mosque in Hangzhou, capital of Zhejiang. It was constructed between 2012 and 2016 in order to cater for the city's growing Muslim population.


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