carve means to cut away a solid material with a sharp tool
to create a design. Carved designs can be nearly flat or
deeply three-dimensional. They can depict geometric designs,
plants, animals and people.
Andalusian artists and artisans used many different forms
and materials for carving. Among the most famous Andalusian
work are carved and molded plasterwork that made solid walls
and domes into
surfaces like lace.The illustration shows molded and carved plaster from
the Alhambra, built under the Nasrid rulers of Granada in
the 14th century CE. Solid walls and domes seem
to float with delicate, deeply carved plaster designs. Wall
surfaces come alive with painted geometric designs.
stone columns like the ruins of the Umayyad palace Madinat
al-Zahra at Córdoba show a mixture of styles from ancient
and classical times, with leaves and flowers, scrolls,
braids, and arabesques that are typical of the light and
abstract designs of Islamic Spain.
boxes made from elephant tusks imported from Africa were
carved as deeply and delicately as plastic is molded today.
Boxes and small chests like this one from Madinat al-Zahra
in the year 966 CE have delicate patterns of leaves, vines,
and flowers, with bands
of calligraphy in Arabic around the
rim of the lid.
chests and boxes have carved inscriptions that blessed their
owners or praise their own beauty. These special boxes were
made for members of the ruling groups, for whom they might
have held gold coins, jewels, perfumes or medicines, like
the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s pyxis (cylindrical, domed
carving on furniture, boxes, buildings and bookshelves or
bookstands was made from oak and other hardwood trees that
grew in Spain. Leafy designs, geometric patterns and animal
motifs were carved into the wood with sharp steel tools that
were also manufactured at places like Toledo, where these
woodcarvings were found.A famous
or pulpit, of the Kutubiya Mosque in Córdoba is shown in
Kings: The Art and Influence of Islamic Spain.
Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, 2004.
Mosque: Islamic Art from the Victoria and Albert Museum.
Victoria and Albert Museum, London and National Gallery of
Art, Washington D.C., 2004.
Patricia, Countess Jellicoe. “The Art of Islamic Spain,”
Saudi Aramco World Magazine,
Alhambra dome retrieved at
http://www.vivagranada.com/alhambra/lions.htm by Lorenzo
Plasterwork from Victor Borges. Nasrid Plasterwork:
Symbolism, Materials & Techniques.
Victoria and Albert
(V&A), Autumn 2004: No. 48. Retrieved 12/06 at
marble column probably from Madinat al-Zahra, Córdoba,
Metropolitan Museum of Art, Timeline of Art History.
carved pyxis, 10th century (950–975); Caliphal Spanish; Made
in Andalusia, Ivory; H. 4 5/8 in. (11.8 cm), Diam. 4 1/8 in.
(10.6 cm), see also
Palace and Mosque,
p. 78 for ivory box made for the daughter of Abd al-Rahman
III, and ivory pyxis in the Cloisters Collection, 1970
with woodcarving from 13th -14th
century Toledo, from
Caliphs and Kings, pp. 64-65.
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