Abbot Suger and Saint-Denis: A symposium by Paula Lieber Gerson

By Paula Lieber Gerson

In response to papers offered at a symposium held in 1981 on the Cloisters
(in conjunction with an exhibition entitled The Royal Abbey of Saint-Denis
in the time of Abbot Suger (1122-1151) and at Columbia University,
sponsored through the foreign heart for Medieval artwork and the Medieval and Renaissance
Interdisciplinary reports Committee of Columbia collage.

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Additional info for Abbot Suger and Saint-Denis: A symposium

Sample text

The American community understands that the mosque owes its valued origin to the norms of space established by the archetypal edifice, which was built by the Prophet and his companions. If we set aside the type of materials used and the techniques of construction, a mosque built today in the United States is in many ways a regional variation of the archetypal mosque. The level of analysis taken up in chapter  explains the decoding of aesthetic variations. The discussion here has set the course for a debate about a neoteric architectural genre, which we call the American mosque.

Regional building traditions outside Madinah had a direct influence on the early development of other mosques and on the aesthetic relationship between what was perceived by convention to be modeled after the Madinah prototype and what was the result of regional influence. The Madinah prototype was conveniently modified to accept idiosyncratic aesthetic themes found in later regional models. 3. CONVENTION: The Spatial Sunnah as Archetype So far, we have considered the textual meaning and traced the development of the archetypal mosque.

Several of them have skillfully quoted the spatial order of the first house of worship, giving rise to the adoption (and subsequent regional adaptation) of the first architectural convention—the plan of the building. The spatial order of the plan could also be described with one phrase: spatial tradition. The phrase refers to the manner in which religious buildings are constructed, and also to an established application of skill, experience, and knowledge. The spatial tradition of the Prophet’s mosque has influenced the construction of innumerable mosques, but the commonly understood plan of a mosque that exists today is a synthesis of two types of spatial traditions.

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