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May 10, 2012

Ikhmim: A Wondrous Thing, 1183 | Luxor - Walking Through Egypt

Ikhmim: A Wondrous Thing, 1183
Ibn Jubayr

The most remarkable of the temples of the world talked of for their wonder is the great temple east of the city and below its walls. Its length is two hundred and twenty cubits, and its breadth one hundred and sixty. The people of these parts know it as birba, and thus too are known all their temples and ancient constructions. This great temple is supported by forty columns, beside its walls, the circumference of each column being forty spans and the distance between them thirty spans. Their capitals are of great size and perfection, cut in an unwonted fashion and angulated in ornate style as if done by turners. The whole is embellished with many colours, lapis lazuli and others. The columns are carved in low relief from top to bottom. Over the capital of each column and stretching to its neighbour is a great slab of carved stone, the biggest of which we measured and found to be fifty-six spans in length, ten in width, and eight in depth.

The ceiling of this temple is wholly formed of slabs of stone so wonderfully joined as to seem to be one single piece, and over it all are disposed rare paintings and uncommon colours, so that the beholder conceives the roof to be of carved wood. Each slab has a different painting. Some are adorned with comely pictures of birds with outstretched wings making the beholder believe they are about to fly away; others are embellished with images of men, very beautiful to look upon and of elegant form, each having a distinctive shape, for example holding a statuette or a weapon, or a bird, or a chalice, or making a sign to another with the hand, together with other forms it would take too long to describe and which words are not adequate to express.

Within and without this great temple, both in its upper and lower parts, are pictures all of varied form and description. Some are of dreadful, inhuman forms that terrify the beholder and fill him with wonder and amazement. There was hardly the space of an awl or needle-hole which did not have an image or engraving or some hieroglyphic writing that I did not understand. This remarkable decoration which can be wrought from hard stone where it cannot be worked in soft wood, covers the whole of this vast and splendid temple, in wonder at which the beholder might conceive that all time spent in its adornment, embellishment, and beautifying would be too short. Glory to the Creator of wondrous things. There is no God but He.


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