Thursday, April 9, 2015

Al Andalus: the Art of Islamic Spain

Al Andalus: the Art of Islamic Spain is a magnificent book, one of the most beautiful things you will ever download. And it's free! It originated as the catalog for an exhibit that appeared at the Met and the Alhambra in 1992, which must have been a thing to behold. There are objects from dozens of museums in Spain, North Africa, the United States and Europe, many of them wonders.

The book is also full of interesting little essays: on the history of the various dynasties, on the Great Mosque at Cordoba, on the royal palace at Madinat al Zahra (above), on the various arts, from sword making to calligraphy.

The Pamplona Casket, 1004 CE, and detail. If you're thinking that does not look particularly Islamic, you're right. Mediterranean ivory carving had a very strong tradition going back to late Roman times that was only gradually modified by Muslim tastes.

Ivory pyxis (fancy word for a round box), 968 CE.

Here's a pyxis from the thirteenth century, looking a lot less like Christian art.

Silver niello box, 900-1100 CE.

Wooden panels from Granada, 1272-1309.

Silk pillow cover, 1271-1333 CE.

Detail of ceramic jug.

Detail of an inlaid writing desk, 13th century CE.

Bronze bucket and detail, 1350-1400 CE.

Detail of a 11th century silt garment that came to be known in Spain as the Witches' Pallium.

Marble window screen, c. 985 CE.

Wooden detail.

Quran page and cover, 1170s CE.

Sword handle and pommel, 15th century. I could go on and on with these, but I have to stop somewhere. Get your own!

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