Name of Object:

Capital

Location:

Madrid, Spain

Holding Museum:

National Archaeological Museum

About National Archaeological Museum, Madrid

Date of Object:

Hegira 207–38 / AD 822–52

Museum Inventory Number:

51672

Material(s) / Technique(s):

Carved marble

Dimensions:

Height 28.5 cm, width 35 cm, diameter 30 cm

Period / Dynasty

Umayyads of al-Andalus, Emirate of ‘Abd al-Rahman II

Provenance:

Córdoba, Spain.

Description:

Capital inspired by the Corinthian order, very close in its proportions to the classical style. It has a single row of acanthus leaves and scrolls with a floral motif in the centre. The front of the abacus is decorated with a row of pearls and another of small leaves, arranged in a zigzag, which could reflect a Visigothic influence. On one of its sides there is a four-line inscription in archaic kufic characters, deteriorated but still legible, reading: 'In the name of God's grace / for Amir ‘Abd al-Rahman son of al-Hakam / honour him God". The inscription refers to ‘Abd al-Rahman II.
The location of the inscription is unusual in Andalusian capitals, but it is common in the East. However, it started the tradition of inscribed commemorative capitals, something very characteristic of Andalusian architecture.
In the first Islamic constructions in the Iberian Peninsula, in the AH 2nd / AD 8th century, Hispano-Roman and Visigothic capitals tended to be reused. During the AH 3rd / AD 9th century the production of the first Andalusian capitals began with strong classical and Visigothic influences. However, by halfway through that century Andalusian artists had already absorbed the previous artistic legacy and the capitals start to acquire an Islamic air. This piece, sculpted delicately and deeply, presages the splendour that the architectural carving of the Caliphate would attain.

View Short Description

The Umayyad Emirate of the West became a great power under ‘Abd al-Rahman II. During that time, the first Hispano-Muslim capitals were made, of which this is an example. The cone shape and realistic decoration were even then inspired by Roman capitals.

How date and origin were established:

The piece has caused considerable controversy since Amadro de los Ríos attributed it to the 4th / 10th century. Gómez Moreno attributed it to the 3rd / 9th century on the basis of its sculptural style, an opinion shared by most researchers.

How Object was obtained:

The capital was donated to the National Archaeological Museum on 6 November 1912.

How provenance was established:

The capital comes from the ancestral home of the Gran Capitan de Córdoba, where it had been reused. It was probably one of the few capitals made during the reign of ‘Abd al-Rahman II for the expansion of the Great Mosque of Córdoba, built between 218–34 / 833–48.

Selected bibliography:

Al-Andalus: Las Artes Islámicas en España, Exhibition catalogue, Madrid, 1992, p.232. English edition: Al-Andalus: The Art Of Islamic Spain ( ed. J. D. Dodds), New York, 1992.
Cressier, P., “Le Chapiteau Emiral: les Problemes de son étude”, in Coloquio Internacional Sobre Capiteles Corintios, Prerrománicos e Islámicos (ss. VI–XII d. C.), Madrid, 1990, p.102. XII
Cressier, P. and Marinetto Sánchez, P., “Les Chapiteaux Islamiques de la Péninsule Ibérique et du Maroc, de la Renaissance émirale aux Almohades”, in L'Acanthe dans la Sculpture Monumentale, de l'Antiquité a la Renaissance, Paris, 1993, pp.211–46.
Domínguez Perela, E., “Los Capiteles en al-Andalus Durante los Siglos VIII–IX”, in Coloquio Internacional Sobre Capiteles Corintios, Prerrománicos e Islámicos (s. VI–XII d. C.), Madris, 1990, p.106.
El Esplendor de los Omeyas Cordobeses, Exhibition catalogue, Granada, 2001.

Citation of this web page:

Margarita Sánchez Llorente "Capital" in Discover Islamic Art, Museum With No Frontiers, 2017. http://www.discoverislamicart.org/database_item.php?id=object;ISL;es;Mus01;6;en

Prepared by: Margarita Sánchez LlorenteMargarita Sánchez Llorente

Margarita Sánchez Llorente cursó estudios de Historia del Arte y Psicología en la facultad de Filosofía y Letras de la Universidad Complutense de Madrid, obteniendo la licenciatura en 1974.Tras realizar numerosos cursos de posgrado en museología y documentación del patrimonio histórico-artístico y arqueológico, le fueron concedidas varias becas de investigación en museística. De 1989 a 2000 trabajó en el Museo Arqueológico Nacional, en la gestión y documentación de los proyectos de la Unión Europea: EMN (European Museum Network), RAMA (Remote Access to Museum Archives) y –como colaboradora del departamento de Antigüedades Egipcias y del Próximo Oriente– Champollion. Ha participado en numerosos coloquios y encuentros internacionales y publicado varios artículos sobre las nuevas tecnologías aplicadas a la documentación en los museos.

Copyedited by: Rosalía AllerRosalía Aller

Rosalía Aller Maisonnave, licenciada en Letras (Universidad Católica del Uruguay), y en Filología Hispánica y magíster en Gestión Cultural de Música, Teatro y Danza (Universidad Complutense de Madrid), ha obtenido becas de la Agencia Española de Cooperación Internacional y la Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia de Madrid, así como el Diplôme de Langue Française (Alliance Française), el Certificate of Proficiency in English (University of Cambridge) y el Certificado Superior en inglés y francés (Escuela Oficial de Idiomas de Madrid). Profesora de Estética de la Poesía y Teoría Literaria en la Universidad Católica del Uruguay, actualmente es docente de Lengua Castellana y Literatura en institutos de Enseñanza Secundaria y formación del profesorado en Madrid. Desde 1983, ha realizado traducción y edición de textos en Automated Training Systems, Applied Learning International, Videobanco Formación y El Derecho Editores. Integra el equipo de Museo Sin Fronteras desde 1999 y ha colaborado en la revisión de los catálogos de “El Arte Islámico en el Mediterráneo”. Así mismo, ha realizado publicaciones sobre temas literarios y didácticos, ha dictado conferencias y ha participado en recitales poéticos.

Translation by: Laurence Nunny
Translation copyedited by: Monica Allen

MWNF Working Number: SP 12

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