Every month a different piece selected from the permanent collection of the museum of the Alhambra is shown.
During the Middle Ages there were two Islamic cities in the Eastern Mediterranean which, under different dynasties, became important centres of craft production: Damascus and Cairo. They attracted waves of craftsmen from Iran, Iraq and Syria fleeing from conflicts in the East. For over 300 years from the 13th-16th centuries the two cities were part of the same kingdom under the Mamluk Sultanate. This Mamluk-era, glazed earthenware jar from the Museum of the Alhambra collection is an example of the transfer of knowledge and skills between these two great capitals.
This piece is made of a clay body and has a pear-shaped profile. It was wheel-thrown and later enamelled in blue, black and turquoise on a white background. It is decorated with elliptical geometric forms that adapt vertically to the shape of the vessel, together with stylized plant motifs. Due to the difficult circumstances in which it was discovered, part of the neck and all of the rim are missing. This piece, together with other similar fragments of Mamluk ceramics, survived successive waves of violent attacks by Mongols and pirates.
Other similar pieces also contain epigraphic or pseudo-epigraphic decoration, with plant and animal motifs that are almost geometric. Trade with other cultures in the Middle East led to the arrival of Chinese pottery, with the use of blue and white glaze, which was very popular in the Islamic world, and of Iranian ceramics from Sultanabad. This led local, particularly Egyptian potters to adapt their techniques, so creating a more artistic sensitivity and magnificent pieces like the Mamluk jar we are analysing today.
Time: Saturdays at 12 h
Place: Museum of the Alhambra, Palace of Charles V