The minaret of this mosque is one of the tourist icons of Yemen. At fifty-odd metres high, it has a claim to be the tallest mud building in the world: it's rival for this distinction is the Great Mosque of Djemme in Mali. (precise figures are hard to find: I am researching this)
It is also remarkable stylistically. Rococco is the word that springs to mind
Tarim has been an important center of learning for a long time. The Al Ahqaf library was established in 1972 by gathering together a number of private libraries.
The library contains some 6200 manuscripts, mostly dating from the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, and is primarily a working library for scholastic research. But a few of the 'stars' of the collection are on didplay, including a world map from 1593 drawn by Mudhataribn al Wardi and some exquisite Korans. Exhibits are explained in English and the at
tendants are helpful (and obviously knowledgable)
In the city of Palaces which is also the former capital of the Hadramawt. Wandering the streets here and seeing palaces that combine arhcitecture styles from all over the world is a sight to be seen. In some ways I was more impressed with Tarim than Shibam in terms of the buildings
Tarim also features the massive al-Kaf Library which is attached to the Al-Jame’a Mosque and houses more than 5,000 manuscripts from the region covering, religion, the thoughts of the Prophets, Islamic law, Sufism, medicine, astronomy, agriculture, biographies, history, mathematics, philosophy, logic, and the eight-volumes of Abû Muhammad al-Hasan al-Hamdânî’s Al-Iklil (crown). Many go back hundreds of years, and often contain vibrantly colored illustration. Between 300 to 400 manuscripts are believed to be unique in the Islamic world, according to the scholar Abd al-Qader Sabban. What distinguishes these manuscripts is that the majority belong to Yemeni authors and editors who resided in the Wadi Hadhramaut area. Nevertheless, there are others that belonged to scholars from Morocco, Khurasan, and other Islamic regions. In 1996, estimates for the annual number of visitors to the Al-Kaf Library had exceeded 4,780 individuals.
This famous manuscript library has been visited by many Head of States, prime ministers, including the foreign minister from my country - Singapore. When I was there, I saw those pics of Head of States in this library. It maintains the oldest manuscript of Quran, see more pics of the library.
The Al Khaf Family Palace is typical of the ruined palaces of Tarim, which are built of mud brick and therefore crumbling badly and in need of restoration.
Most were built between 1900 and 1940, by wealthy families who left for Saudi Arabia in the early 1960’s. They have a very classical influence much more like traditional palaces with plenty of space and columns.
Stained Glass is used abundantly along with Indian and Asian style decoration, including painted ceilings and fancy lattice woodwork
Tarim has an important religious history and was a sunni centre of learning in the 17th to 19th centuries - there are 365 mosques in Tarim.
Al Mahdar mosque has a minaret 62m high and the original mosque dates from the 10th century. The mosque has been rebuilt in 1915 and beautifully restored. It is incredible to think it is made from mud brick (with limestone plaster).
Al-Ahgaf Manuscript library is located in the side street just behind the Al Mahdar mosque.
The library has thousands of old and rare books and manuscripts on religion, medicine, law, astronomy and science. Many of the manuscripts are very brightly illustrated.
It is well laid out, although all the signs are in Arabic and it is surprisingly modern inside with PCs and modern display cases.
You can view some of the manuscript copies in glass display cases and can take photographs providing you do not use a flash.
There is a whole room devoted to Sufism.
Many of the old Palaces had beautiful Stained Glass Windows which, although not that old, are made more fabulous as the glass is incorporated into the building style of the area and compliments the carved lattice woodwork. Mostly the glass is cut into large pieces and the lattice work forms the design, with only a few different glass colours used - red, green, blue, yellow. This technique works beautifully to diffuse the sunlight into the room in a myriad of colours, reflecting off the mirrors on the walls and ceilings.
One of the Palaces has been restored a little and you can go inside.
Tarim’s famous al-Muhdar mosque is crowned by a 53 metres (175 ft) high, and recognized to be one of the tallest earth structures in the world. The minaret was designed by the local poets Abu Bakr bin Shihab and Alawi Al Mash’hûr. Completed in 1914, the al-Muhdar mosque is named in honor of Omar Al-Muhdar, a Muslim leader who resided in the city during the 15th century.
Al-Kafs Palace is Tarim's most flamboyan, apparently using a book of different architectural styles as a templatre, kind of project. It was beautiful in old days, havinf the mirror ceiling, decor pillars inside the palace. Going up to the 3rd level and get a spendid view of the city of Tarim.
Admission YR150 (May 2008).
Tarim is famous for its innumerable palaces - a collection of approximately thirty mansions constructed between the 1870s and 1930s. During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Hadhramaut’s merchant families grew rich from trade and investments abroad. The al-Kaf family was considered the most influential. Many members of the family were respected religious scholars. At the same time, they were among the regions first Westernizing elite and contributed to public works projects in the name of modernization. Their palaces remain as testament to both their affluence and the complex identity of the modernizing elite of the colonial period.
Palaces financed by the al-Kafs and other families were executed in the stylistic idioms they encountered in British India and Southeast Asia. Consequently, the palaces include examples of Mughal, British Colonial, Art Nouveau, Deco, Rococo, Neo-Classical, and Modernist styles unparalleled in Yemen. While these foreign decorative styles were incorporated into the Tarimi architectural idiom, traditional Hadhrami construction techniques based on the thousand-year-old traditions of unfired mud brick and lime plasters served as the primary methods for executing these buildings.
The usual Friday great mosque for Tarim. Behind this mossque is the worl renowed al-ahgaf manuscript Library.