THE MASJID or mosque is perhaps the most iconic Islamic architecture, with elegant aesthetics. It is the subject of the exhibit, Masjid/Mosque: Jewels of Philippine Islamic Faith, on Feb. 5 to March 8 at the UST Museum of Arts and Sciences.

The exhibit was part of the National Arts Month. For the celebration, the National Committee on Architecture and Allied Arts (NCAA) of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) held Archi[types/text], one of the flagship projects for this year’s Philippine Art Festival.

The exhibit was the second partnership between the NCCA with the UST Museum, following last year’s Salumpuwit exhibit.

“Architecture is dynamic. You can see and feel it in all forms, and takes shape with different cultures,” said Gerard Lico, head of the NCAA architecture committee, in a press conference held last Jan. 24.

Anna Marie Bautista, assistant director of the UST Museum, said an exhibit of Muslim architecture aesthetics in a Catholic university was unique.

She said that UST Museum Director Fr. Isidro Abaño, OP agreed with the project "because we hope to change the people’s mindset about Catholics and Muslims; they can come together and become one.”

The exhibit featured over 30 mosques, showing the anatomy of Islamic architecture and their aesthetic principles. The photos of the mosques were complemented by pieces from the museum’s collection of artifacts from Southern Philippines.

Mosques from Lanao del Sur all have similar features of low minarets (the still tower rising from the mosque) and simple structures partnered with modest domes. The Masjid Kulawi is a mosque of monochromatic blue, while the Ganasi Grand Mosque is done in bright colors, with a white-toned minaret.

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The Bacolod Grand Mosque is in elegant white while the Masjid Lumboc is done in warm yellow colors.

Mosques are popularly known for being enormous, regal structures, with towering minarets and domes in astonishing colors.

The Masjid Raya Suduc of Marawi City exudes royalty with the mosque’s domes done in gold, and the windows each carved with intricate detailing.

Some mosques are simpler in form, done in more modern motifs that evoke a homey feel such as the Datu Untong Balabaran and the Haron Rasjid Mosque, both located in Maguindanao.

The Masjid Abas Datu Odin Sinsuat features a modern structure dressed in neutral colors, with a low minaret done in shades of yellow, orange and white.

Architect Rino Fernandez, vice-head of the NCCA architecture committee, said the exhibit sought to raise awareness of Muslim architecture.

"There are many mosques filling the Mindanao skyline, we should take a moment to appreciate their beauty and unique form,” Fernandez said.

Bautista quoted the late Pope John Paul II, saying that culture brings people together, and they aim to accomplish strengthening ties of different religions and cultures with this exhibit.

“It is a contrast, but also a marriage, of two cultures,” she said. With reports from Bernadette D. Nicolas and Giuliani Renz G. Paas

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