Decorative talismans in the courtyards of the Alhambra


In 1212, the Battle of Al-Uqab (the Eagle in Arabic language) took place, which marked a turning point in the history of the Iberian Peninsula (Spain and Portugal today), and in this battle, the kings of the Christian states in the north of the peninsula allied themselves against the Muslim Almohad state, which its control over the southern part of the Iberian Peninsula and North Africa declined, and the Almohad army suffered a crushing defeat, after which it fell, Andalusian cities such as Cordoba and Seville are in the hands of the king of Castile.

The Emirate of Granada was established after the Battle of Al-Uqab, and its prince was Abu Abdullah Muhammad I of the Banu Nasr bin Al-Ahmar, his lineage goes back to the Khazraj Qahtani tribe.

The mountains surrounding the city of Granada helped protect it from the invasions of the Christian kings, and this emirate was a refuge for Muslims fleeing their cities after their fall, it was also a platform for culture and a forum for trade.

At the height of its prosperity, the population of Granada reached approximately half a million people, as a result of the migration of Muslims to it, this emirate lasted for 250 years, and its last king was Abu Abdullah Muhammad, who handed it over peacefully (perhaps This was the reason why the Alhambra palaces were not vandalized) to King Fernando and Queen Isabella in 1492, thus The last Islamic castles in Andalusia fell.

The Catholic Kings seized the Alhambra Palace, which was their main goal, and Fernando and Isabella even received Christopher Columbus After returning from a trip to discover America in the Alhambra Palace, When Queen Isabella died, she recommended that she would be buried in Alhambra, without a headstone bearing the sign of a cross.

There is no victor but God

When Muhammad al-Ahmar entered the city of Granada (the name means pomegranate in Spanish), its people welcomed him and chanted: Welcome, O conqueror, and his answer was:
 There is no one who prevails today except God, and this is the slogan of Bani Al-Ahmar that is repeated on the walls of the Alhambra palaces.

Prince Abu Abdullah Muhammad began constructing his palace on a hill called Tell Sabika, overlooking the city of Granada, which was surrounded by gardens and orchards.

Work on building the palace continued until the fall of the emirate, and it was not built according to prior planning, but rather as a result of successive additions, each prince builds his own palace or adds a courtyard to the many courtyards of the Alhambra, for example The courtyard of wild animals, the courtyard of the ambassadors, the courtyard of the kings, and others, or one or more towers of the Alhambra should be built, there are 37 towers, most of which are still standing.

The architectural designs of the Alhambra Palace emerge from authentic Islamic sources, its courtyards and interior courtyards have exquisite decoration and design. 

They open to each other, and they completely contradict the simplicity of its many doors and walls.

The palace, its rooms overlooking the inner courtyards, its isolated towers, its picturesque gardens, its ponds and canals, are all these elements express the Muslim’s longing for Paradise and emulates the description of Paradise as stated in the Holy Qur’an and the Noble Hadiths.

Inscriptions and calligraphic decoration

One of the most important advantages of Granadian architecture and decoration is that it is a worldly art, palaces and mosques were rich with decorations that it may distract a Muslim from his prayer, and make his eye swim tirelessly in a sea of wonderful decorations, as if whoever lived in those palaces wanted to live his present with the utmost luxury, because he doubted his future. 

The architects and artists of the Alhambra succeeded in creating an unparalleled aesthetic effect, through the harmonious combination between The art of organizing gardens, water ponds, and running canals, the art of architecture, decoration, and poetic arts.

The attention of the Granadian craftsmen was focused on covering all spaces, no matter how small, with calligraphic and floral decorations, stalactites, and tiles.

Although the embodiment of images is considered a forbidden matter in Islamic art, on the other hand it led to the flourishing of calligraphic and floral decorations.

 There are ancient Arabic scripts in italic writing in the Andalusian Naskh script, and in the Andalusian Kufic script. 

. What added to the splendor and luxury of the Alhambra palace were the poems that were engraved on its sides, as if they imitated the hanging of pendants. 

The tenth on the curtains of the Kaaba before Islam, and this is a feature that was unique to Andalusian architecture, and perhaps because of the feelings the kings of Bani Al-Ahmar was aware of the danger threatening their emirate. 

This prompted them to intensify the Arab and Islamic style in their palaces, so that these palaces would retain their features after them. 

The Arabism of Andalusia, the metaphors of poetry were mixed with construction tools and materials such as alabaster, wood, plaster, and glass.

These poems inscribed on the walls were in harmony to some extent with the philosophy of formal art that made its way in response new implications for understanding beauty, in which poets respond to a tendency towards an ornamental tendency, and this tendency has been embodied In the art of calligraphy, photography, mosaics, stained glass making, and construction engineering, then I moved on to the poetry and prose industries.

The Granadian poets found in these palaces something that aroused their feelings and exploded their latent feelings, so their descriptions of the palaces came And what surrounds it is precise.

The courtyards of the Alhambra Palace contained 53 Arabic poems, 13 of which were erased due to the passage of time  inaccurate maintenance operations.

Among the most prominent poets whose poems were inscribed in the courtyards of the Alhambra palace is the minister and poet Lisan al-Din ibn al-Khatib. Ibn al-Jiyab al-Gharnati, whose poems were inscribed in the main hall of the Assira Tower, one of the towers of the Alhambra Palace.

The poem of the minister, the poet Ibn Zamrak, was also inscribed on the perimeter of the water fountain in the lions’ hall, this represented the fountain is a major scientific achievement for Andalusian scholars, especially with regard to the secret of the water clock, where water flows From the mouths of lions, hour after hour, lion after lion.

The poem includes 12 lines, in which it praises Sultan Muhammad V and describes the fountain and the palace in front of each lion is a verse. 

Decorative talismans and their surroundings

A visitor fascinated by the splendor and luxury of the Alhambra palaces will have difficulty deciphering the calligraphy decoration, and may come to a conclusion there is decorative inspiration for the letter and some vocabulary, without it having a clear meaning. 

There is an engraving of verses from the Holy Qur’an, phrases, or words, but without dotting the letters, this was what was followed before the development of the style of writing Arabic letters into semicolon letters, which poses the first difficulty to understand.

The second obstacle is that those words were copied in a reversed-mirror style, meaning the word itself It was written sometimes from the right and other times from the left, with philosophical overtones inspired by the idea of the shadows of the word being reflected on the Smooth mirror surfaces, just as the shadows of the arches and stalactites are reflected in the many pools of water in the Alhambra.

The geometric construction of the letters and their overlapping what surrounding them with the delicate floral decoration them also prevent detection the meaning of those decorations is easy.

The calligraphers who created these calligraphy decorations gave the Arabic letters artistic extensions to which no one had preceded them, by modifying the letters into shapes that are inspired by images of plants or are an extension of them, in the form of letters much different from her traditional drawing.

. The Arabic letter was engraved in an abstract manner within a complete aesthetic image with the engravings, glazing and gilding around it.   

The legendary Alhambra Palace is an unparalleled museum of Islamic architecture and art in Andalusia, and it is the tree that came out among them are branches of classical Italian art, and the splendor of these palaces has inspired many writers and poets, including the French. 

François Chateaubriand (1768/1848) and the American Orientalist Washington Irving (1783/1859), who wrote a book entitled Stories of the Alhambra, after he lived in one of the palace towers, and the Spanish poet García Lorca (1898/1963), and the Spanish novelist Antonio Gala, whose novel The Crimson Manuscript was inspired by the life of Abu Abdullah al-Saghir, the last king of Granada.  






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