(Author) Prof. Abu Sayeed M. Ahmed, Ph.D and Wahida Iffat
Naogaon , Bangladesh
Kusumba mosque, termed as the Black Gem of Bengal, is situated at the village Kusumba in Naogaon. According to an inscription it was erected by a patron Sulayman in 966/1558-59 during the reign of Ghiyath Al-Din Bahadur Shah. Stone, though scarce, was used in most of the finest monuments of Bengal. Only six stone mosques […]
Kusumba mosque, termed as the Black Gem of Bengal, is situated at the village Kusumba in Naogaon. According to an inscription it was erected by a patron Sulayman in 966/1558-59 during the reign of Ghiyath Al-Din Bahadur Shah. Stone, though scarce, was used in most of the finest monuments of Bengal. Only six stone mosques exist in greater Bengal that were built during the early Islamic or Sultanate period. Kusumba mosque is one of them. Stones of this mosque are dark black-basalt which was shipped from Rajmahal hill of Bihar.
The mosque conforms to the typical oblong enclosed mosques in Bengal built during the early Islamic period. The interior of the prayer hall is divided into two bays and three aisles surrounded by 2.26 m thick wall. The mosque has access only from the eastern side by three pointed archways and the north and south sides have two arched openings. The Qibla wall contains three highly ornated mihrab niches. The walls are built of brick core with stone facing up to the bottom of the arches from within and the whole outside surface. Two freestanding stone pillars and eight partly concealed pilasters support the six domed roof. The mosque has only four octagonal turrets, one at each corner of the building. These turrets invariably form a part of the buildings, and are built either to reinforce the corners or merely as ornamental appendages.
The Muslim rulers were introduced to the Bengali architecture and Islamic features like the dome and the pointed arch and certain local tendencies that belonged to Bengal as well as to Islam. The foremost of these was the curved cornices, which was reproduced by the Muslims in their work from the traditional rural bamboo hut. It ensured quick drainage of rainwater. This typical curved cornice is also observed in four facades of the Kusumba mosque.
At the north-west corner, there is a well-designed raised gallery on four stone pillars. The raised gallery is accessed by a single flight of stairs from the ground level of the prayer room. This is the only surviving example of an unscreened internally connecting staircase. It can be a Badshah Ka Takht or King’s gallery, a place for the sultans or rulers or builders and their immediate entourage, though this segregation of worshippers is contrary to the spirit of Islam. The stone carving of the mosque shows no novelty but betrays its pre-Muslim workmanship.
Author: Prof. Abu Sayeed M. Ahmed, Ph.D and Wahida Iffat
Drawing: Mosque Architecture in Bangladesh, UNESCO, 2007, Dhaka