Hispanic-Muslim art

The Hispanic-Muslim art or Moorish art is the Islamic art developed in Alandalus between centuries VIII and XV. Its main exponents are the Mosque of Cordoba and the Alhambra of Granada . Another notable expression of Hispanic-Muslim art is the Palace of Aljafería in Zaragoza .

The Muslim invasion of the Iberian peninsula in 711 by the Arabs changed the historical inertia of Goda society in Iberian lands, which was in line with the European West after the fall of the Roman Empire . Alandalus , which came to be called Muslim Hispania , maintained peculiar cultural conditions different from both Eastern Islam and the European context of that date. These conditions lasted until the conquest of the Kingdom of Granada in 1492 , the Nasrid dynasty. But, at the same time, this geographical and cultural singularity constituted one of the factors that had a decisive impact on the awakening of Europe , after the centuries of disunity and lethargy that followed the fall of the Western Roman Empire and the barbarian invasions .

The Muslim invasion and the disappearance of the Visigoth kingdom of Toledo did not imply the extinction of the Christian and Jewish communities . Some fled to the north, where they formed a stronghold of opposition to the new power instituted in Cordoba and, in time, would constitute the germ of the later called Reconquista ; others, Christians who remained in Muslim territory, came to be known as Mozarabic . Both this minority and the Jewish one enjoyed state protection, forming large communities in large cities like Mérida , Toledo , Valencia , Cordoba ,Seville , Granada , Almeria , Malaga , etc. The changing circumstances over the more than eight centuries of Hispanic Islam meant that the artistic process developed during these centuries was systematized according to historical periods. So the division became habitual in:

Art of the Emirate and the Caliphate

From an artistic point of view, the Emirate of Cordoba employed a style that does not differ much from the rest of the Umayyad Caliphate . That is, the adequacy of formulas and elements of the cultures that preceded them, in this case of the Roman and Visigoth world . At no time did a literal repetition of motives and forms take place; on the contrary, its incorporation and assimilation resulted in a true creative outbreak, giving rise to the fundamental moment of the Caliphate’s art. Elements of the local Hispanic-Roman-Visigothic tradition were merged with oriental elements, both Byzantine and Umayyad or Abbasid .

The artistic buildings are centered, from the first moment, around the capital, Cordoba, in which a congregational mosque was built to become the most important monument in the Islamic West. During the reign of Abderramão II , in whose court numerous artists, fashions and oriental customs were welcomed, several buildings stand out, among others, among which, the Alcázar de Mérida , as well as the minaret of the church of São João in Cordoba, in addition to the improvement of its walls and those of Seville . The Calder Abderramon IIIfollowing the oriental tradition, according to which each monarch, as a sign of prestige, should have his own palace residence, he decided to found the aulic city of Medina Azahara ( Medina al-Zahra ).

In the rest of the peninsular territory there was also an artistic flourishing driven by the caliphate. Among those of a religious character are mosques, madrasahs and mausoleums. In the city of Toledo still perceive traces of his staff, as well as its citadel , medina , arrabais and surroundings. Among them is the small mosque of Cristo da Luz or Bab al-Mardum . And works as significant as the one in Guardamar del Segura ( Alicante ), the Castle of Gormaz ( Soria ) or Ciudad de Vascos (Toledo).

The refinement of the court led to the creation of all kinds of decorative objects that, under royal sponsorship, were translated into the most varied artistic expressions. In particular, among the ivory works there are objects of daily use carefully carved: boats and archets designed to store jewelry, ointments and perfumes; mortars , pots, bowls, jars and glazed ceramic bowls, etc. In the National Archaeological Museum of Spain , the boat of Zamora for the woman of Aláqueme II or the architect of the Monastery of Leyre , in the Museum of Navarra , can be seen as a sample of this.

The monarchs, as in Baghdad and Cairo , created their own fabric factory, which would be the principle of producing silk fabrics embroidered in Alandalus. The geometrical vegetal and figurative motifs are inscribed in medallions that form bands as they appear in the veil of Hisham II, which, like a turban, covered his head and hung up to his arms.

Likewise, there were workshops in which bronze was worked , carved with figures that represented lions and deer with their bodies covered in tangent circles evoking fabrics and that were used as sources in the fountains. Its formal and stylistic parallelism with pieces by the Fatimids has led to controversy over the legitimacy of some of these pieces.

The ceramics have types of production known as “green and manganese”. Its decoration based on epigraphic and geometric motifs and an outstanding presence of figurative motifs are achieved through the application of copper oxide and manganese oxide.

Taifa art

The destruction of political unity led to the abolition of the Cordovan caliphate in 1031 and the creation of a mosaic of independent kingdoms that were called taifas (of tawaifs , parties, factions). The rivalries between them, claiming the legacy of the caliphate ‘s prestige and authority , constituted the dominant tonic of the period. This situation was reflected in the artistic field in the emulation of Cordovan models.

In this context, the palatial architecture sponsored by each of the monarchs is inserted. One of the best testimonies is, without a doubt, La Aljafería de Zaragoza , typologically related to the Umayyad palace of Msatta ( Jordan). It has a tripartite organization where each of the sectors was dedicated to differentiated functions. The central sector, for protocol use, is dominated by a rectangular courtyard whose smaller sides were occupied by barracks, porches and elongated estates marked at the ends by alcobas. This scheme is undoubtedly derived from the cordovan palatal models. The same repertoire of arcs unfolded in the building, among which we find everything from lobulated, mistilinear arches, of semicircular and pointed horseshoe, to complex organizations of interlocking, overlapping and opposing arches, responds to this same tradition. All of them are made with poor materials, but covered with plasterwork with vegetal, geometric and epigraphic motifs, seeking an effect of fastuosity and apparent richness.

The old alcoves of the different kingdoms also underwent major remodeling. In Malaga, a double walled enclosure with square towers and a palace with the vestiges of the so-called Granada Rooms are added. The old Alcáçova de Granada , known as qadima (old), located on the hill of Albaicín , was fortified with square and round towers and added some elbow doors, such as the Monaita door and the Nova door. Also, the city conserves baths known as the Bañuelo, organized in three estancias of which the central or temperate one acquires, for reasons of use, bigger dimensions. Very similar baths are conserved in Toledo ,Baza and Palma de Mallorca . The alcove of Almeria was fortified with side walls, and a palace was built inside, al-Sumadihiyya , surrounded by gardens. In the cases of Toledo and Taifa of Seville , kingdoms that flourished most strongly due to the Cordovan heritage, stunning testimonies of the Arab chronicles about their palaces are preserved, as well as few fragments that are generally out of context.

Architect from the Taifa of Toledo ( S. XI, MAN , Madrid )

As with architecture, the sumptuous arts followed the Cordovan tradition although other centers took on the role. Thus the production of ivory was transferred to the workshop in Cuenca , while the prestige in textiles was acquired by the workshop in Almeria. With regard to ceramics, a technique that appeared during the caliphate was consolidated, but which at this moment acquired a great development. It is the “dry rope” ceramic whose pieces are decorated with lines of manganese oxide forming different motifs that are filled with different colored glass.

Almoravid art 

The works carried out during the reign of the monarch Iúçufe ibne Taxufine , also showed the austerity and lack of ornamentation imposed by his religious fervor. Formal rigor that did not keep his son Ali ibne Iúçufe , who sponsored the construction of several buildings decorated with the most beautiful elements.

The preferred support is the pillar, replacing the column . They adopt the horseshoe and lobed arch , to which they add horseshoe or humid arches, lobulated in the shape of a clover, mistilíneos and lambrequins formed, the latter, by small curves, right angles and pendant keys. In relation to the development of the arches, they apply, since the saimel, a ” S ” motif called serpentiforme, previously used in the Aljafería de Zaragoza . The preferred roofing system is the two sides, they build wooden ceilings and achieve a great development in the Mudéjar art , at the same time that they realize extraordinary domed coverings. Some, represented by theMirabe the Mosque Tlemcen , follow the model Cordovan: intersecting arches that in this case, pluck angular tubes of mucarnas and use some complements stucco silent decorated with lush floral motifs. From this work, in which the introduction in the zagreb of the mucarna is documented , other types of domes called mucarnas appear, like the one that can be seen in the mosque of Qarawiyin in Fez .

The artistic works continued to be linked to previous traditions. The textile workshop in Almeriareached its zenith by performing the famous attabi. These fabrics are characterized by the use of more soft colors with touches of gold forming double, tangent or connected circles, arranged in rows, within which couples of animals are embroidered. The similarity with Sicilian fabrics allows both cutlery to be confused. A similar problem exposes the ivories, which contain ambiguous inscriptions that have not just clarified which of the two cutlery belong to. Ceramics, in turn, continue to develop the technique of “partial dry rope” or “total” depending on whether the decoration covers all or part of the surface. At the same time, there are two new techniques applied to unglazed ceramics: the scribed and the stamped, which would become widespread at the Almohad era.

Almohad art [ edit | edit source code ]

Torre del Oro (Seville). Almohad architecture. First third of the 13th century

The return to the most extreme austerity led, more quickly than in the case of their predecessors, the Almoravids, to one of the most splendid artistic moments, particularly in architecture. Almohadic art continued the Almoravid stele, consolidating and deepening its typologies and ornamental motifs. They built with the same materials: tiles, plaster, mortar and wood. They also maintained, as support, the pillars and arches used in the previous period.

Its mosques followed the model of the Tremecém mosque, with naves perpendicular to the gibla wall. Them was boosted a scheme in ” I ” through the use of domes that are mucarnas the mosque Tinmal and in Qutubiyya of Morocco . They are characterized by their square plan and their height made up of two towers, one of them houses another and, between them, there is a stairway or ramp, as in the case of the Giralda of Seville . The interior tower is formed by vaulted and overlapping rooms that will have their subsequent repercussion in the construction of other Mudejar bell towers, especially those built in Aragon .

Palatial architecture introduces the crossed courtyards that had already made their appearance in Medina al-Zahra, but that is, at these moments, when they acquire their greatest protagonism. His best testimony is represented in the Alcázar of Seville , in which the courtyard of the Contracting House and another, currently underground, known as the Cruzado Garden or Baths of Dona María Padilla , have been preserved . This scheme would also be applied in the Nárdidas and Mudéjar yards. Another novelty appears in the Pátio do Gesoof Alcácer de Sevilha, and will have a great repercussion. It consists of placing small openings or windows covered with stucco lattices that give access to a resort and thus allow its lighting and ventilation.

Military architecture experiences a typological enrichment and its defensive effectiveness is perfected, which would have great transcendence, even for the Christian sphere. Complex elbow doors appear in order that the attackers, when advancing, leave one of their flanks uncovered; polygonal towers to deflect the angle of fire; albarran towers separated from the walled enclosure, more joined to it by the upper part by means of an arch, which allows to increase its defensive effectiveness with respect to a normal tower, like the Torre del Oro of Seville; reinforced walls that run perpendicular to the walled enclosure in order to protect a water intake, a door, or to avoid the complete enclosure; barbecans or antemuros and balustrades.

In the decorative terrain, they applied a repertoire characterized by sobriety, order and rationalism, which translates into the appearance of broad motifs that leave free spaces in which geometric interleaves, smooth vegetable shapes and the newest: the sebqa triumph . Another architectural decoration that appears in this minaret and mosque Qutubiyya is the ceramics, which is applied the technique of alicatado ; that is, cut pieces that, combined with each other, make up a decorative motif. On other occasions these artistic manifestations combine the ornamental and the functional.

The works of art of this time are worse represented because of the confusion that exists between the different artistic periods. This is the case, for example, with fabrics, which are not easily distinguished from mudéjares: they accuse a practical absence of figurative motifs while increasing the geometric and epigraphic decoration based on the insistent repetition of Arabic words such as “blessing” and “happiness” “. As metallic elements, aguamanis stand out, representing animal figures decorated with chiseled vegetable incisions.

Nasrid art

Courtyard of the lions in the Alhambra de Granada

Nasrid art is a style that emerged in the late Alandalus era in the nacreid kingdom of Granada . The two paradigms of the same make it the palaces of the Alhambra and the Generalife .

Military architecture develops the same systems generated in the previous era, giving it greater complexity. Palatial architecture employs two types of patio organization: one monoaxial patio, patio of the Arrayanes or Alberca , and another, the crossed patio , patio of the Lions . The resorts linked to them respond, again, to two types: one elongated at the ends of which are the alcobas, and another square surrounded by the Rooms, for example, the Sala de la Barca and the Sala de las Dos Hermanas . The few traces of religious architecture allow us to think of mosques that follow the Almohad model, with naves perpendicular to the quibla wall. Perhaps the only notable novelty comes from the fact that marble columns are used when the building is of certain relevance.

As for the ornamental repertoire, they use a decorative profusion that masks the poverty of the materials, they use plastered skirting boards and plaster plaster, the painted decoration as the one preserved in the vault of the Sala dos Reis . The cylindrical shaft column and the two-body capital are characteristic, one cylindrical decorated with bands and the other cubic with ataurique. The preferred arches are those with half a staggered and grooved point. The wooden coverings alternate with stucco vaults made with stucco such as those of the Sala das Dos Hermanas (“Duas Irmãs”) or that of the Abencerragens . Also, the usual ornamental motifs (geometric, vegetables and epigráficos) joins the shell to be Nazrid generalized by Muhammad V .

In sumptuous arts, there are ceramics with metallic reflections and silk fabrics to which bronzes, taracenas and weapons can be added. Luxury ceramics, known as “metallic reflection” or “golden slate” are characterized by submitting, the last cooking, with very low fire “of oxygen” and lower temperature. With this procedure, the mixture of gold and copper sulfide used in the decoration reaches oxidation, reducing the metallic shine. It was also frequent to add cobalt oxide with which blue and gold tones were obtained. The fabrics were characterized by their intense color as well as the motifs, identical to those used in architectural decoration.

Mudejar art

Main article: Mudejar art

Detail of the Alcázar of Seville

Mudejar art took place between the 12th and 16th centuries , and it was an indigenous and exclusively Hispanic phenomenon, carried out by the Mudejar and Moorish . Basically, it was a style for Christians, although it incorporated influences, elements or materials in Spanish-Muslim style.

The border situation in continuous movement influenced this art. The Gothic style was based on the north of the peninsula and, as the reconquest progressed, it progressively conditioned the Mudejar. The subsequent conquest of Alandalus implied a younger Mudejar and with direct influences from traditional architecture. The alarife or worker, used simple materials such as tiles, plaster, scale, masonry, wood etc., as a basic raw material to create a work full of imagination. Due to its losing situation, the alarife, becomes cheap labor and is forced to build churches, synagogues, fortifications, palaces …

In the Mudéjar art two different schools stand out:

  • Aragon: With a very characteristic personality, it surprises the color that receives the use of tiles in the exteriors and the innumerable resources that they extract from these.
  • Andalusia: In Cordoba the use of stone is maintained, while in Seville the tiles, Almohad shapes and the construction of mausoleums predominate.

The last style would be neo-mudéjar , as a final and evolutionary phase in time.


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