Moorish Art

Moorish culture blossomed in south Iberia from 8th century to 15th century when Moors seized most of the Iberian Peninsula and established Muslim rule in the region. The Moors themselves mostly comprised of North African Berbers as well as Arabs from Damascus. Once in Iberia, they also accepted influences from the local cultures.

This resulted in a unique mix of Iberian, North African and Arab Islamic cultures, giving birth to rich Moorish art and culture. Among the most notable examples of Moorish art are the extant Moorish buildings in the Iberian region.

Moorish Art Umayyad Mosque Mosaics

The Moors were well known for their quality and skilled artworks Moorish Mosaics were very popular like this Umayyad Mosque Mosaics

Moorish Architecture

Moorish architecture was a blend of Arab, North Africa, Visigoth and often Frankish styles of construction. Being at the confluence of multiple cultures and religions, the Moors took influences from various sources and used them in their buildings. Early Moorish architecture is predominantly Islamic and Arab in its outlook with significant influences from the Iberian culture.

Notable example of the period is the Great Mosque of Cordoba which uses a large number of rounded arches on the interior and is embellished with numerous decorative elements. From the 11th century onwards, Moorish architecture was more strongly influenced by the North African culture.

A notable example of Moorish architecture of this period is the mosque of Seville, known for its iconic minarets. One of the most glorious examples of extant Moorish architecture is the Alhambra palace in Granada.

Moorish Art Fast Facts:

  • Moorish art was inspired by a rich blend of Iberian, North African and Islamic cultures
  • Moorish Architecture took from Arab, North African, Visigoth and Frankish styles
  • The Great Mosque of Cordoba in Spain is a great example of Moorish Architecture
  • Notable Moorish Architecture can be seen in the Mosque of Seville with it’s iconic minarets

Moorish Sculpture

Sculptures were one of the most prominent forms of Moorish art that was widely practised during the Moorish period in Iberia. Stone and wood was intricately carved to produce sculptured models which were then used on materials ranging from stone slabs to interiors of buildings. Court scenes were sculpted on ivory boxes which were frequently used by the Moorish nobility.

Moorish Arts and Crafts

Throughout most of the medieval ages, the Moorish culture in Iberia was known for its finesse and the high quality of its products. For this reason, Moorish arts and crafts were in high demand throughout most of Europe as well as other parts of the neighbouring Iberian Peninsula.

Notable types of Moorish crafts included hand-woven and fine cloths and rugs which were frequently embellished with colours and paintings. Enamelled jewelry was also produced in the Moorish territories, to be used by the nobility as well as for export to other regions. Pottery was another high-quality Moorish handicraft product which was known for its artistic outlook and the durability of its material.

Moorish Art Legacy

Even after the Moorish rule had ended in Iberia, Moorish art continued to exert its influence on the development of art in Spain as well as the European Renaissance at large. Moorish art helped revive European interest in the Greek and Roman cultural legacy while also bringing the intellectual treasures of the Muslim world to Europe.

As a result, artworks directly influenced by the Moorish legacy continued to be produced in Spain in particular and in Europe in general. A specific form of art called Mudejar art blossomed during the post-Moorish period. This form of art was made by non-Moors but closely followed the Moorish artistic legacy.

Moorish Art Facts:

  • Moorish sculptures were created using wood and stone that were used to decorate buildings
  • Moorish Arts and Crafts were known to be of a high quality and were in demand throughout Europe
  • The Moors made fine hand woven cloths and rugs that were often decorated in colours and paintings
  • Moorish Art influenced art throughout Europe and played a role in the emergence of the renaissance period
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