Hashemite Royal Mausoleum in Baghdad: Multi-Faceted, Cosmopolitan, and Diverse Influences

Document Type : Original Article


Associate Professor, Department of History, College of Liberal Arts, Texas State University, San Marcos, TX, USA.


The Hashemite family ruled Makkah al-Mukarramah (Mecca) since the tenth century. Their descendants ruled Iraq from 1920 to 1958. In Iraq, J. Brian Cooper served King Fayṣal I as the official architect. In this capacity, he designed and supervised the construction of a mausoleum (1936), a parliament building (1951-1957), and a palace (1956-1957, currently known as “the Republican Palace”). Eleven members of the Hashemite family are buried in the mausoleum, under a dome with turquoise tiles (Mackey 2002, 121). The Hashemite family's architectural projects demonstrate a multi-faceted, cosmopolitan, and diverse set of influences (not merely British, or Abbasid, or Ottoman, or pan-Arab—rather, all of them), as shall be substantiated by our discussion of the Royal Mausoleum (maqbara malikiyya) in Baghdad. The Hashemite mausoleum’s central dome with turquoise tiles, the scale of the whole complex, and its function, all allude to Great Britain's Royal Burial Ground at Frogmore (consecrated 23 October 1928), which was still under construction when the construction of the mausoleum in Baghdad was proposed. This article draws on twentieth-century publications (ephemera, the trade press) and newsreels to connect Cooper’s design with diverse design influences within Iraq, as well as from Great Britain, the Ottoman Empire, and the Kingdom of Egypt, underscoring colonial aspects, Iraq’s status as a post-Ottoman jurisdiction, and connections between the Arab states in their post-colonial stage.


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