Rescuing the Mamluk Minbars of Cairo

This year-long project focusses on the research, documentation and conservation of Mamluk minbars in Historic Cairo.

Mamluk Minbars are stepped pulpits, made in the period from 1250 to 1517. Found in mosques, they are traditionally used by imams to deliver sermons and lectures. Minbars are ornate examples of Islamic art and architecture. Generally made from wood, they are adorned and densely decorated with complex geometrical patterns and calligraphic texts, typically made with ivory, ebony and camel bone inlay.

Islamic monuments are under threat of looting and destruction across the Arab world. Since 2011, there has been an increase in the number of monuments which have been stolen in Egypt. Minbars are particularly at risk due to the high market value of the intricate carved elements, and the lack of detailed documentation of these portable items.

Recording, Preserving and Conserving Cairo’s Minbars

In this project, research will be conducted on Cairo’s minbars, and a new comprehensive database will be created which can be used to aid future restoration. During the research phase, the condition of the minbars will be assessed, and a priority list of four minbars will be produced for subsequent conservation work to be carried out.

The restored minbars will be studied in depth by local craftsmen, examining how their complex patterns are constructed, to encourage understanding and appreciation of traditional arts and crafts in the area. The local craftsmen will go on to design a number of new prototypes inspired by the geometry of minbars, which will then be sold in the local market. A series of thematic workshops and training sessions will be delivered for local professionals, volunteers, teachers and children.

Project Details


Location: Cairo, Egypt, Northern Africa, Africa Organiser(s): Egyptian Heritage Rescue Foundation (EHRF) Project partner(s): Historic Cairo Project (HCP), School of Islamic and Geometric design (SIGD), Egytian European Organization for Training and Development (EETOD) Funder(s): British Council Cultural Protection Fund in partnership with DCMS Funding received: £327,302 Commencement Date: 06/2017 Project Status: Active
Project owner? Update this project



Related Projects

Picture 1

Protecting Iraqi Cultural Heritage: Deterring Antiquities Looting and Trafficking

Priceless artefacts in museums in Iraq have been protected from the threat of destruction and theft by marking them with a unique invisible code, SmartWater traceable liquid, …

Explore project
Bedouinlebanon

Cultural Corridors of Peace

This project will collect, archive and share the traditional skills and living memory of the Bedouins of Bekaa in Lebanon. The Bedouin are a group of nomadic peoples who have …

Explore project
Megatithes de lakkar

Scientific Assistance for the Valorisation of Mengez Megalithic Sites

This project aims to work on the preservation and optimisation of tourism of the megalithic dolmens of Mengez, in the Akkar region of Northern Lebanon. 

Explore project