HANDS ON Traditional Crafts at The City of the Dead in Cairo

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Tomb of Khawand Tughay (Umm Anuk) (No.81), before A.D. 1348 / 749 A.H.

Tughay was the mother of Sultan al-Nasir Muhammad Ibn Qalaun’s eldest and favourite son, Anuk. She had been al-Nasir Muhammad’s slave before he freed and married her. Known for her beauty and piety, she was the Sultan’s favourite wife, and an influential and wealthy figure. She completed the pilgrimage to Mecca three times. Tughay enjoyed a respectable position at the court after her husband’s passing in 1341 until she died of plague eight years later.  Umm Anuk’s complex in the cemetery was originally a khanqa, or Sufi convent, with two domed tombs flanking a huge Iwan (vaulted hall opening onto a courtyard.) Only the larger southern dome has been preserved. A band of blue ceramic tiles with the Throne Verse of the Qur’an in monumental calligraphy is only partially preserved; it is evidence of Persian influence on the architecture of Cairo in this period. Exquisitely carved stucco panels, also showing Persian influence, decorate the Iwan.