Name of Object:

Capital

Location:

Madrid, Spain

Holding Museum:

National Archaeological Museum

About National Archaeological Museum, Madrid

Date of Object:

Hegira 437–73 / AD 1046–81

Museum Inventory Number:

50482

Material(s) / Technique(s):

Carved alabaster.

Dimensions:

Height 43 cm, width 29 cm, diameter 19.5 cm

Period / Dynasty

Taifa kingdoms; Banu Hud dynasty, Abu Yafar Ahmad al-Muqtadir (r. AH 437–73 / AD 1046–81)

Provenance:

Aljafería Palace, Saragossa, Spain.

Description:

Capital from the Aljafería Palace in Saragossa. Derived from Classical composite order, it has two rows of acanthus leaves, which serve as points of reference for organising the space and as receptacles for the vegetal ornamentation. The surface decoration of each leaf is based on various finely carved motifs. Each side of the echinus (moulding supporting the abacus) also bears a different type of floral decoration. The single-level abacus takes the form of a cross with rounded off arms. Apart from some marble capitals, the capitals of the Aljafería are made of alabaster and belong to the Corinthian and composite orders, which shows a clear departure from caliphal art, although in Saragossa they became longer and the size of the scrolls has been reduced to such an extent that they have almost completely disappeared. This capital in particular does not preserve direct caliphal influences. It emphasises the tendency towards the lengthening of the caliphal models and its elaborate and fanciful forms were fashionable in the Taifa kingdom of Saragossa. We know that the capital was part of what is assumed to have been the grand audience chamber of al-Muqtadir, the 'Marble Hall', also called the 'Golden Hall', on the north side of the palace. This large rectangular hall, with two side rooms, was decorated with marble flooring, alabaster plinths and carved plaster panels which covered the walls. This sumptuous decoration reflects the luxury and refinement of the court of al-Muqtadir, during whose reign the Aljafería Palace was constructed.

View Short Description

Unlike marble capitals, this stylised capital, originally from the Throne Room in the Aljafería Palace, was carved profusely from alabaster with a double row of carved acanthus leaves in turn bearing minute plant motifs, as if it were a work in a precious metal.

How date and origin were established:

The Aljafería Palace was constructed under the patronage of Abu-Yafar Ahmad al-Muqtadir (r. 437–73 / 1046–81), the second monarch in the Banu Hud dynasty, which governed the Taifa of Saragossa during the years 432–503 / 1040–1110.

How Object was obtained:

The capital was donated to the National Archaeological Museum on 19 August 1869.

How provenance was established:

This capital came from the 'Marble Hall' in the Aljafería Palace in Saragossa.

Selected bibliography:

Al-Andalus: Las Artes Islámicas en España, Exhibition catalogue, Madrid, 1992, p.258. English edition: Al-Andalus: The Art Of Islamic Spain, (ed. J. D. Dodds), New York, 1992.
Dominguez Perela, E., “Relaciones Entre los Capiteles de la Aljafería y los Cordobeses”, in Actas del III Coloquio de Arte Aragonés, Saragossa, 1983, pp.51–85.
Gomez Moreno, M., El Arte árabe Español Hasta los Almohades. Arte Mozárabe. Ars Hispaniae, Vol. 3, Madrid, 1951, p.223.
Marinetto Sánchez, P., “El Capitel en el Periodo Taifa”, in Coloquio Internacional de Capiteles Corintios Prerománicos e Islámicos (Siglos VI–XII). Madrid, 1990, pp.145–66.
Revilla Vielva, R., Catálogo de las Antigüedades que se Conservan en el Patio árabe del Museo Arqueológico Nacional, Madrid, 1932, p.180.

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;7;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 14

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