Suq al-Qattanin (Market of the Cotton Merchants)
Suq of Amir Tankaz al-Nasiri
The suq is located on the west side of the Haram al-Sharif, extending from Bab al-Qattanin (Gate of the Cotton Merchants), which leads from the Haram al-Sharif to al-Wad Street, Jerusalem
Hegira 737 / AD 1336–7
Carved on a muqarnas façade on the opening of a skylight in the middle of the suq there is a signature of one of the craftsmen who worked on the construction of the suq. Written in Mamluk naskhi script, the inscription reads: “May God have mercy on him, the work of Muhammad bin Ahmad bin ‘Alish”.
Mamluk sultan, al-Nasir Muhammad bin Qalawun (who ruled three times: AH 693–4, 698–708 and 709–41 / AD 1294–5, 1299–1309 and 1309–40), and Amir Tankaz al-Nasiri (d. AH 741 / AD 1340), who was deputy to the sultanate in Bilad al-Sham (Greater Syria) during the period AH 712–40 / AD 1312–40.
The Suq al-Qattanin extends from east to west measuring approximately 95 m. This commercial suq contains a caravanserai, two hammams, and two rows of 30 shops, totalling 60 shops in all. The suq is designed on a rectangular plan, and has a ceiling that is arched with a barrel-shaped vault divided into a series of arches totalling 30 sections. Each section opens up into a skylight to allow light and air into the interior. The suq was built of white dressed stone that has turned ashen grey over time. Each shop has a wooden door.
The suq has two entrances, one on the east and the other on the west. The east entrance is called Bab al-Qattanin (Gate of the Cotton Merchants), which opens on to the west side of the Haram. This entrance was built with meticulous care and is considered an architectural rarity. The entrance consists of a recess with a tri-lobed arch, encircled by another large recess. This recess is crowned by a tapered arch and topped by a semi-dome that is supported by five tiers of stone muqarnas. The entrance was built from black, grey and red stone and arranged with meticulous attention in the ablaq style, whose correspondence of colour is well known in the Islamic architecture of Jerusalem, especially in those buildings that date to the Mamluk period.
The west entrance to the suq is simpler in both design and architectural composition and consists of a rectangular portal, above which is a large lintel. The lintel consists of seven joggled stones, on top of which rests a relieving arch. A circular window opens out above it. The elements of this entrance are located within a recessed wall surrounded by a large pointed arch.
The Suq al-Qattanin is considered to be one of the most complete and beautiful suqs not only in Palestine, but in the whole of Bilad al-Sham (Greater Syria). Income from the suq was allocated to the Haram al-Sharif, and towards projects in Jerusalem undertaken by Amir Tankaz al-Nasiri, such as the Madrasa Tankaziyya.
This suq is the most beautiful market in the city. It has not undergone fundamental changes since it was built. The suq is characterised by a rectangular market hall approximately 95 m long. It is surrounded on two sides by two rows of shops, 60 in total, in addition to a khan (inn) and two bathhouses. On the east side of the suq an imposing portal, considered to be one of the most beautiful Mamluk monuments in the city, opens onto the west side of al-Haram al-Sharif.
The suq is dated by three written foundational inscriptions, and supported by the writing of the historian, Mujir al-Din al-Hanbali (d. 928 / 1521).
Burgoyne, M., Mamluk Jerusalem: An Architectural Study, London, 1987
______, and Abu al-Hajj, A., “Twenty-Four Medieval Arabic Inscriptions from Jerusalem”, in Levant, No. 11, 1979, pp.128–9.
Golvin, L., “Quelques Notes sur le Suq al-Qattanin et ses Annexes a Jérusalem”, BEO, No. 20, 1967, pp.101–17.
Grabar, O., “A New Inscription from al-Haram al-Sharif in Jerusalem”, Studies in Islamic Art and Architecture in Honour of Professor K. A. C. Creswell, Cairo, 1965, pp.72–83.
Al-Hanbali, Mujir al-Din, (d. 927 / 1520), Al-Uns al-Jalil fi Tarikh al-Quds wa al-Khalil [The Significant Ambiance in the History of Jerusalem and Hebron], Amman, 1973.
Pilgrimage, Sciences and Sufism: Islamic Art in the West Bank and Gaza, pp.121–3.
Yusuf al-Natsheh "Suq al-Qattanin (Market of the Cotton Merchants)" in Discover Islamic Art, Museum With No Frontiers, 2017. 2017. http://www.discoverislamicart.org/database_item.php?id=monument;ISL;pa;Mon01;6;en
Prepared by: Yusuf Al-NatshehYusuf al-Natsheh
Yusuf Said Natsheh is a Palestinian and since 1997 he has been Director of the Department of Islamic Archaeology in al-Haram al-Sharif in Jerusalem. He is a lecturer at al-Quds University. He was educated in Jerusalem and Cairo and in 1997 obtained his Ph.D. from the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. Dr Natsheh is a council member of many Palestinian societies for architectural heritage and a consultant for various projects on Jerusalem. He has written books and more than 40 articles about Jerusalem's architectural heritage including the architectural survey of Ottoman architecture in R. Hillenbrand and S. Auld (eds) Ottoman Jerusalem: The Living City 1517–1917 (London: Altajir World of Islam Trust, 2000). He has contributed to many international and national conferences. He supervised the restoration project, sponsored by the Arab League, on Mamluk monuments in and around al-Haram al-Sharif, and was Palestinian expert for the UNESCO mission to Jerusalem in 2004.
Copyedited by: Majd Musa
Translation by: Amal Sachedina (from the Arabic).
Translation copyedited by: Mandi Gomez
MWNF Working Number: PA 06
Islamic Dynasties / Period
On display in
Discover Islamic Art Exhibition(s)The Mamluks | The Wider World: Diplomatic Contacts and International Trade
Related MWNF Tour Related MWNF Travel Book
Virtual Visit Exhibition Trail
DownloadAs PDF (including images) As Word (text only)