The Architecture of the Early Mosques and Shrines of Java: Influences of the Arab Merchants in the 15th and 16th Centuries?
Ahmed E. I. Wahby
The dissertation is divided into four chapters. The first is a broad historical
introduction that gives an overall picture of he Malay Archipelago from the 3rd
century A. D. when the Indians arrived to the islands till the 16th when the Portuguese
established there hegemony in the region. Theories regarding the arrival of Islam and
the foundation of Muslim polities in Sumatra, the Malay Peninsula and Java and the
“Islamization” of the Spice Islands are addressed in more detail.
The second chapter is a descriptive and pictorial catalogue of the case
monuments; 15th-16th century mosques and shrines of the northern coast of Java.
Mosques selected are those of Demak, Banten, Cirebon and the Masjid Panjunan in
Cirebon. The shrines are those of Drajat, Gunung Jati, Ratu Kalinyamat, Sendang
Duwur, Bonang and Kudus.
The third chapter is an analytical comparison between the architecture of local
buildings, their associated iconography and religious beliefs, architectural details, and
decorations and those of the Javanese mosque and shrine. The aim is to asses whether
the Javanese mosque and shrine are products of the local architecture.
The fourth chapter questions the theories on China and India as the source for
the Javanese Islamic buildings and hypothetically reconstructs the Javanese mosque
design process in an attempt to unveil the source of the mosque’s architectural
concept. The chapter concludes by evaluating the role of the Arab merchant in the
design and construction of the Javanese mosque and shrine.

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