Name of Object:

Frieze

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:

50440

Material(s) / Technique(s):

Carved polychromatic plaster.

Dimensions:

Height 162 cm, width 151 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:

This fragment of extravagantly carved decorative plasterwork comes from the north hall in the Aljafería Palace. Its central part is made up of a combination of intertwined, mixtilinear horseshoe arches supported on columns with composite capitals and shafts decorated with zigzags. The gaps are filled with plant arabesques, forming scrolls where palmettes, pomegranates and other floral elements are inscribed. Above the arcade are the remains of a kufic inscription where 'the faithful' can be read. In the lower part there is a wide strip with geometric, vegetal and inscribed elements. The plasterwork preserves remains of red, blue, white and black colouring.
In this plaster panel, the architectural, geometric and vegetal forms are combined in a complex manner. The delicate engraving of the vegetal motifs is almost reminiscent of a chest and reflects a taste for sumptuary arts. In the Taifa of Saragossa there clearly existed a specific taste and independent style, nonetheless linked to the previous Caliphate.
The north hall of the Palace, also called the 'Golden Hall' or 'Marble Hall', whose decoration was formed in part by this frieze, was undoubtedly the throne room, reserved for ceremonial usage. The architectural and decorative remains, as well as literary references, give us an understanding of what the original ornamentation was like. According to a poetic text belonging to al-Muqtadir, this hall was splendidly decorated.

View Short Description

This fragment of frieze, which was part of the decorative wall covering of the Throne Room in the Aljafería Palace, reproduces an architectural arcade on a small scale. It is an excellent example of the baroque style seen in the carved, multicoloured plasterwork decoration of the time.

How date and origin were established:

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

How Object was obtained:

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

How provenance was established:

The piece was taken from the Aljafería Palace to the National Archaeological Museum by the Provincial Commission of Monuments in 1867. According to Revilla (see Bibliography), this frieze belonged to the 'Golden Hall' or the 'Marble Hall' in the Aljafería Palace in Saragossa, the best-preserved palace complex from all of the Taifa era.

Selected bibliography:

Al-Andalus: Las Artes Islámicas en España, Exhibition catalogue, Madrid, 1992, p.256. English edition: Al-Andalus: The Art Of Islamic Spain (ed. J. D. Dodds), New York, 1992.
Gómez Moreno, M., El Arte árabe Español Hasta los Almohades. Arte Mozárabe, Ars Hispaniae, Vol. III, Madrid, 1951, p.229.
Revilla Vielva, R., Catálogo de las Antigüedades que se Conservan en el Patio árabe del Museo Arqueológico Nacional, Madrid, 1932, p.22.

Citation of this web page:

Margarita Sánchez Llorente "Frieze" in Discover Islamic Art, Museum With No Frontiers, 2017. http://www.discoverislamicart.org/database_item.php?id=object;ISL;es;Mus01;8;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 15

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