Sitara Mosque Dhaka
(Mosque of Mirza Ghulam Pir)
This is the most highly decorated mosque in Dhaka (pl. 18.1), standing not far from Mahaot-toli crossing in Abul Khairat Lane just by the side of Armanitola High School. As originally built, the mosque was a simple construction with no decoration at all. The back of the mosque still preserves the original features. Within the last forty years the new Mutawalli Ali Jan Bepari, a local dealer in soap and tobacco, has added a new verandah to the mosque on the cast and spent lavishly in importing Japanese and English decorated China clay tiles to improve the inner and outer show of the mosque.
Sitara Mosque Dhaka
Originally it was known as mosque of Mirza Ghulam Pir, who built the mosque in the early part of the 18th century. The new decorations, in which sitara (stars) play important part, have led to the modern name Sitara Mosque [Star Mosque]. The original mosque was built in a typically Mughal style – a rectangular structure, about 33’ by 11’ (internal measurement), with corner towers at the four ends, three doorways on the cast and one each on the north and south, and three ,mihrabs on the west. The front doors have now lost their panelled face and bordering turrets, but the back of the western wall retains the projection of the mihrabs, each one of them is bounded by slender turrets shooting above the horizontal parapet. Similarly the corner towers on the back side show the plastered kiosks perched on them. The inner hail is covered over with three domes; the central one is bigger than the side ones. The use of the intermediate half-dome reduces the width of the side space and helps in building smaller domes at the sides. All the domes retain the original features internally, and have a basal frieze of sunken panels bearing multi-cusped arches. The apex shows a rosette in blue colour.
The new decorations [those were new when Dani wrote his book, but in the present context they should be termed as the earlier decorations done in the twenties of the 20th century by Au Jan Bepari] fall into two parts. The outer decoration of the domes and the front facade is done by cut white China pieces which are embedded in white plaster with a variation of colour here and there and numerous stars spread over the surface. Right at the top of the eastern face can be seen a crescent with a star in the middle. The interior decoration of the mosque is done by rectangular tiles of variegated colour forming different designs, though cut pieces are again used here above a certain height to save money. The interior designs centre round three mihrabs and doorways, each one of which is framed within a rectangular decoration above a certain height, below which goes all round a long register showing twin roses in each tile. Right at the bottom is a dado with peak motif and chain festoon. At each of the corbelled pendentives can he seen a decorated flower vase with plants shooting upward. Similar decoration can be seen at the apex of the mihrabs-arches. The interior of the new verandah repeats the inner decoration at the lower stage with an addition of long floral ornament over a flower vase in some places. In between the door the wall surface shows the Japanese Fujiyama motif and other kinds of decorated vases. On the whole the colour is very glamorous and at once attracts the visitor’s eye.