Leather and Islam – M.A.

Leather and Islam in Iberian Peninsula – Thesis abstract

“Leather and Islam in Iberian Peninsula” deals with the influences of the manufacture of leather left by the Muslim domination of the Iberian Peninsula. Several items are studied, made in the last Islamic kingdom of Granada (quiver, bag for bow, chopine, bag, box), gilt leather/guadameci work of mudejar production of the 16th century, Portuguese upholstery of the 16-17th centuries, as well as the prolonged aesthetics and uses in rural areas of the actual Iberian south.

The visual elements shown in altar frontals and upholstery of the Christian elite show the high esteem paid to Iberian Islamic art, used along with the “Moorish way” of sitting on rugs and cushions, riding in the “jineta” way, and covering walls with tapestries and gilt leather/guadameci; these were fashions rooted in the Muslim heritage, and kept until early Renaissance.

The lack, or inexistence, of leather artefacts dated before the 15th century makes one recall other manufactures in order to see a continuity of traditional motives and uses. Several Portuguese motives come from the initial Umayyad source, showing that leatherwork was quite important in the occident of al-Andalus; being Portugal established, geographically speaking, in mid-13th century, the ornamentation canons were kept by the new Christian elite, and moved to the leather upholstery chairs with the end of the Middle Ages. Such topics do arise doubts about the so-called “leather of Cordoba”, and show that Caliphate art was extended to the whole Gharb.