Prayer Niche from Konya

This prayer niche is almost four metres tall. It was once the centrepiece of the Beyhekim mosque in Konya. It was a gift from the personal physician to Seljuq sultan Kilic Arslan the Fourth, who died in 1266.

In the 13th century, faience mosaics were used to accentuate important components of Seljuq mosques. This prayer niche is made up of innumerable small pieces of tile, arranged so artfully in a pattern that you can't see any gaps between them.

The niche is flanked by pillars and has an arch inscribed with words of the prophet Mohammed relating to prayer. Above that is a verse from the Quran, surah 29. It says "establish regular Prayer: for Prayer restrains from shameful and unjust deeds". The three-sided frame is covered with decorative Kufic script of the throne verse from the second surah of the Quran, which is often cited in sacred buildings because of its beneficial power.

The technique of multi-coloured faience mosaic work was developed in Konya with the help of a specialist from Iran. It's possible this prayer niche was done by one of his students, who had mastered the complicated process with great skill.