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Sa῾di

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The Grove Encyclopedia of Islamic Art and Architecture What is This? Provides in-depth historical and cultural information on over a thousand years of Islamic art and architecture

Sa῾di

Islamic dynasty that ruled Morocco between 1511 and 1659. Like their ῾Alawi successors, the Sa῾dis were sharīfs (descendants of the prophet Muhammad) and both dynasties are sometimes classed together as the “Sharifs of Morocco.” The Sa῾dis came from Arabia and settled in the Sus region of southern Morocco in the late 14th century. Taking advantage of the political chaos in Morocco at the beginning of the 16th century, they seized power and established their capital in Marrakesh. Their most brilliant sovereign, Ahmad al-Dhahabi (“the Golden”; r. 1578–1603), repulsed a Portu guese invasion and contained Ottoman attempts at domination, while his armies took Moroccan rule as far south as Timbuktu and the Niger. After Ahmad’s death the dynasty’s authority declined rapidly until it was recognized only in Marrakesh, which was taken by the ῾Alawis in 1659.

Sa῾di architectural patronage (see Architecture, §VII, E, 1) was concentrated in Marrakesh, where they built numerous mosques, madrasas and shrines, as well as the royal city within the Almohad walls. The most noteworthy religious buildings to have survived are those forming the dynastic necropolis set against the southern wall of the Kasba Mosque (see Architecture, fig. 58). Outside Marrakesh the only remarkable works are the pavilions added to the courtyard of the Qarawiyyin Mosque in Fez. In general, Sa῾di religious architecture kept to the tradition established under the Almohad dynasty but was adapted to the more limited needs of the time. Of Sa῾di secular architecture only the bare walls of beaten earth and baked brick of the royal city in Marrakesh remain. Its layout followed Andalusian models in its combination of pools, fountains, gardens, open pavilions and massive walls and its once splendid decoration in carved stucco and tile. This Andalusian influence is also seen in the two pavilions in the Qarawiyyin Mosque, which were modeled on those in Granada at the Alhambra’s Patio de los Leones (Court of the Lions; see Granada, color pl.). Apart from richly decorated Koran manuscripts, for example that copied for Sultan ῾Abd Allah in AH 975 (1568; London, BL, Or. MS. 1405; see Subject matter, color pl.), little is known about Sa῾di patronage of other arts.

Bibliography

  • E. Lévi-Provençal: Les Historiens des Chorfa: Essai sur la littérature historique et biographique au Maroc du XVIe au XXe siècle (Paris, 1922)
  • G. Rousseau and F. Arin: Le Mausolée des princes saadiens à Marrakech, 2 vols. (Paris, 1925)
  • G. Deverdun: Marrakech: Des origines à 1912, 2 vols. (Rabat, 1959–66)
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