In the Light of Medieval Spain: Islam, the West, and the Relevance of the Past (The New Middle Ages)

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For in fact many features of Christianity do not fit well into classical philosophical views. The notion of the Incarnation and the doctrine of the Trinity are obvious cases in point. But even before those doctrines were fully formulated, there were difficulties, so that an educated Christian in the early centuries would be hard pressed to know how to accommodate religious views into the only philosophical tradition available.

To take just one example, consider pagan philosophical theories of the soul. At first glance, it would appear that the Platonic [ 4 ] tradition would be most appealing to an early Christian. And in fact it was. In the first place, the Platonic tradition was very concerned with the moral development of the soul.

Paul describes in 1 Cor. Most important of all, Platonism held that the soul could exist apart from the body after death.


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This would obviously be appealing to Christians, who believed in an afterlife. On the other hand, there was another crucial aspect of Christianity that simply made no sense to a Platonist. This was the doctrine of the resurrection of the dead at the end of the world. But for a Christian this resurrection was something to look forward to; it was a good thing.

No, for a Platonist it is best for the soul not to be in the body. A Christian would therefore have a hard time being a straightforward Platonist about the soul. But neither could a Christian be a straightforward Aristotelian. All the harder, therefore, to make sense of the view that the resurrection of the dead at the end of the world is something to be joyfully expected. Educated early Christians, striving to reconcile their religion in terms of the only philosophical traditions they knew, would plainly have a lot of work to do.

In response to them, new concepts, new theories, and new distinctions were developed. Of course, once developed, these tools remained and indeed still remain available to be used in contexts that have nothing to do with Christian doctrine. While the influence of classical pagan philosophy was crucial for the development of medieval philosophy, it is likewise crucial that until the twelfth and thirteenth centuries almost all the original Greek texts were lost to the Latin West, so that they exerted their influence only indirectly.

As the Western Roman Empire gradually disintegrated, the knowledge of Greek all but disappeared. Boethius c. There were still some pockets of Greek literacy, especially around such figures as Isidore of Seville and the Venerable Bede, preserving and transmitting ideas of ancient learning, but making little impact on medieval philosophical thought. In the case of Plato, the Middle Ages for all practical purposes had only the first part of the Timaeus to 53c , hardly a typical Platonic dialogue, in a translation and commentary by a certain Calcidius or Chalcidius.

There were also translations of the Meno and the Phaedo made in the twelfth century by a certain Henry Aristippus of Catania, [ 8 ] but almost no one appears to have read them. They seem to have had only a modest circulation and absolutely no influence at all to speak of. There had been a few other Latin translations made even much earlier, but these vanished from circulation before the Middle Ages got very far along. Cicero himself had translated the Protagoras and a small part of the Timaeus , and in the second century Apuleius translated the Phaedo , but these translations disappeared after the sixth century and had very little effect on anyone Klibansky [], pp.

This state of affairs lasted until the Renaissance, when Marsilio Ficino —99 translated and commented on the complete works of Plato. Thus, except for roughly the first half of the Timaeus , the Middle Ages did not know the actual texts of Plato. As for Plotinus, matters were even worse. His Enneads the collection of his writings were almost completely unavailable.

Marius Victorinus is said to have translated some of the Enneads into Latin in the fourth century, but his translation, if in fact it really existed, seems to have been lost soon afterwards. For Aristotle, the Middle Ages were in somewhat better shape. Marius Victorinus translated the Categories and On Interpretation. A little over a century later, the logical works in general, except perhaps for the Posterior Analytics , were translated by Boethius, c.

The rest of Aristotle was eventually translated into Latin, but only much later, from about the middle of the twelfth century. First there came the rest of the logical works, and then the Physics , the Metaphysics , and so on. Essentially all the works had been translated by the middle of the thirteenth century Dod []. Still, while it is important to emphasize this absence of primary texts of Greek philosophy in the Latin Middle Ages, it is also important to recognize that the medievals knew a good deal about Greek philosophy anyway.

They got their information from 1 some of the Latin patristic authors, like Tertullian, Ambrose, and Boethius, who wrote before the knowledge of Greek effectively disappeared in the West, and who often discuss classical Greek doctrines in some detail; and 2 certain Latin pagan authors such as Cicero and Seneca, who give us and gave the medievals a great deal of information about Greek philosophy.

During the first part of the Middle Ages, Platonic and neo-Platonic influences dominated philosophical thinking. Gilson [], p. Hence, even though it is sometimes still done, it is quite wrong to think of medieval philosophy as mainly just a matter of warmed-over commentaries on Aristotle. For most of the Middle Ages by far, Aristotle was of decidedly secondary importance.

This of course is not to deny that when Aristotle did come to dominate, he was very dominant indeed and his influence was immense. But gradually the word was extended until, much later, it came to include all early Christian writers who were taken to represent the authentic tradition of the Church Quasten [—86], I, p. The patristic period is generally taken to extend from the immediately post-Apostolic authors to either Gregory the Great d.

By no means all patristic authors are of philosophical significance, but many of them definitely are. By far the most important is Saint Augustine — see the entry on Saint Augustine. Augustine is certainly the most important and influential philosopher of the Middle Ages, and one of the most influential philosophers of any time: [ 12 ].

Why Are the Middle Ages Often Characterized as Dark or Less Civilized?

Yet despite his philosophical preeminence, Augustine was not, and did not think of himself as, a philosopher either by training or by profession. As a result, few of his writings contain what we would think of as purely philosophical discussions. After Augustine, the first thinker of philosophical note was Boethius c. Boethius had occupied a high station in society and government. He was born into a family with an excellent old Roman pedigree, and rose to a position of immense power and influence in the Ostrogothic kingdom under Theodoric.

Although for a while he was conspicuously successful, he nevertheless eventually fell into disfavor, was charged with treasonable conspiracy having to do with the Emperor Justin in Constantinople Boethius claims he was innocent , was arrested and finally executed. For Boethius was well educated, and was one of the increasingly rare people in the West who knew Greek well, not just the language but the intellectual culture. He came up with the lofty goal to translate Plato and Aristotle into Latin, write commentaries on the whole of that material, and then write another work to show that Plato and Aristotle essentially said the same thing:.

No doubt this plan would have proved unmanageable even if Boethius had not been executed in his mid-forties. In particular, while the Consolation certainly shows a knowledge of the Timaeus , Boethius does not appear to have actually translated any Plato at all, despite his intentions.

In addition to his translations, Boethius wrote a number of logical treatises of his own. Whether or not he translated the Posterior Analytics , there may have been a commentary on it, but if so it has not survived and did not have any influence Ebbesen []. The same goes for a possible incomplete commentary on the Prior Analytics Obertello [], I, pp. Some of the works were more influential than others.

But basically, everything the Middle Ages knew about logic up to the middle of the twelfth century was contained in these books. As a result, Boethius is one of the main sources for the transmission of ancient Greek philosophy to the Latin West during the first half of the Middle Ages.

He also proved to be influential in the twelfth century and afterwards for the metaphysical views contained in a series of short studies known collectively as the Theological Tractates. After Boethius, as the classical Greco-Roman world grew ever more distant, philosophy—and to some extent culture generally—entered a period of relative stagnation, a period that lasted until after the year The major philosophical figure in this period was John Scottus Eriugena [ 16 ] c.

Curiously, the knowledge of Greek was still not quite dead in Ireland even at this late date, and Eriugena brought a knowledge of the language with him. At the Carolingian court, Eriugena translated several Greek works into Latin, including the very important writings of Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite more on him below , a work by Maximus Confessor also known as Maximus of Constantinople, c. Eriugena also wrote several other works of his own.

Among his translations, the writings of Pseudo-Dionysius are surely the most important and influential see the entry on Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite. Whoever he was, he claimed to be a certain Dionysius who is reported to have been among the philosophers on the Areopagus in Athens when St. Paul went there to preach Acts — Most of the audience on that occasion laughed at Paul and his novel doctrines.

The Pseudo-Dionysian writings consist of four treatises and a series of ten letters. Both works were condemned, On Predestination soon after it was written. On the Division of Nature is a large, systematic work in four books, presenting a vision of reality in strongly neo-Platonic terms. The unfamiliarity of this kind of thinking in Western Christendom, which was strongly influenced by Augustine, no doubt contributed to his later reputation of being a heretic.

Then, shortly after the turn of the millennium, things began to revive. Education was part of this general revival, and with it philosophy. But after their numbers grow exponentially. It is no longer possible to treat them individually in chronological order; indeed, it is difficult to keep track of them all. As time goes on, the complications and the numbers only increase. His writings are not yet laden with the technicalities and jargon that make so much later medieval philosophy formidable and inaccessible to the non-specialist.

This development grows even more pronounced after Anselm. By the early twelfth century, the revival of education that had begun shortly after the millennium was in full swing. During the first half of the century, the most important philosopher by far was undoubtedly Peter Abelard — see the entry on Peter Abelard. He was also one of the most colorful figures in the entire history of philosophy. Yet his philosophy is strikingly original. His views on logic and what we would call philosophy of language are sophisticated and novel; indeed, he is a serious contender for the title of the greatest logician of the entire medieval period, early or late.

He is one of the first nominalists, and certainly the first important one. He also wrote on theological topics such as Trinity. He was subject to ecclesiastical censure during his lifetime, a fact that no doubt contributes to the relatively few explicit citations of him in the later Middle Ages.

Nevertheless, it is undeniable that his influence was widespread. There are many exceptions to this generalization. And by the time of Anselm, the role of logical argumentation is beginning to grow. Certainly for Abelard the above generalization fails entirely. Nevertheless, a big change is about to occur. This volume brings together a team of leading scholars in Spanish studies to interrogate the contemporary significance of the medieval past, offering a counterbalance to intellectual withdrawal from urgent public debates.

This collection offers much material for debate and reflection, and the essays are well written, well edited, and well integrated with each other. This is an exceptional read. What binds them so as to warrant their publication together in a book? We can read them as a collection of case studies on the nexus of society and culture in medieval Iberia and modern Spain, the complex, slipppery relationship between past and present, and the textual and social agency of historical memory.

The editors and authors are to be thanked for making medieval and early modern studies speak to a broader audience of humanists, not by facile analogy or drawing superficial parallels but rather by effectively employing critical vocabulary, theory, and thinking central to the broader trajectories of humanistic research today.

This groundbreaking collection of essays offers a series of refreshingly new, daringly diverse, and boldly political ways of reading the Spanish Middle Ages today, making a forceful case for the continued relevance of Spanish history for our conflict-ridden world.

Islamic aniconism stems in part from the prohibition of idolatry and in part from the belief that creation of living forms is God's prerogative. Religious Islamic art has been typically characterized by the absence of figures and extensive use of calligraphic , geometric and abstract floral patterns. However, representations of Islamic religious figures are found in some manuscripts from Persianate cultures , including Ottoman Turkey and Mughal India. These pictures were meant to illustrate the story and not to infringe on the Islamic prohibition of idolatry, but many Muslims regard such images as forbidden.

Calligraphic design is omnipresent in Islamic art, where, as in Europe in the Middle Ages , religious exhortations, including Qur'anic verses, may be included in secular objects, especially coins, tiles and metalwork, and most painted miniatures include some script, as do many buildings. Use of Islamic calligraphy in architecture extended significantly outside of Islamic territories; one notable example is the use of Chinese calligraphy of Arabic verses from the Qur'an in the Great Mosque of Xi'an.

The Dark Ages - Was Science Dead in Medieval Society?

Two of the main scripts involved are the symbolic kufic and naskh scripts, which can be found adorning and enhancing the visual appeal of the walls and domes of buildings, the sides of minbars , and metalwork. East Persian pottery from the 9th to 11th centuries decorated only with highly stylised inscriptions, called "epigraphic ware", has been described as "probably the most refined and sensitive of all Persian pottery".

Complex carved calligraphy also decorates buildings. For most of the Islamic period the majority of coins only showed lettering, which are often very elegant despite their small size and nature of production. The tughra or monogram of an Ottoman sultan was used extensively on official documents, with very elaborate decoration for important ones. Other single sheets of calligraphy, designed for albums, might contain short poems, Qur'anic verses, or other texts. The main languages, all using Arabic script , are Arabic , always used for Qur'anic verses, Persian in the Persianate world, especially for poetry, and Turkish , with Urdu appearing in later centuries.

Calligraphers usually had a higher status than other artists. Although there has been a tradition of wall-paintings, especially in the Persianate world, the best-surviving and highest developed form of painting in the Islamic world is the miniature in illuminated manuscripts , or later as a single page for inclusion in a muraqqa or bound album of miniatures and calligraphy. The tradition of the Persian miniature has been dominant since about the 13th century, strongly influencing the Ottoman miniature of Turkey and the Mughal miniature in India.

Miniatures were especially an art of the court, and because they were not seen in public, it has been argued that constraints on the depiction of the human figure were much more relaxed, and indeed miniatures often contain great numbers of small figures, and from the 16th century portraits of single ones. Although surviving early examples are now uncommon, human figurative art was a continuous tradition in Islamic lands in secular contexts, notably several of the Umayyad Desert Castles c.

The largest commissions of illustrated books were usually classics of Persian poetry such as the epic Shahnameh , although the Mughals and Ottomans both produced lavish manuscripts of more recent history with the autobiographies of the Mughal emperors, and more purely military chronicles of Turkish conquests. Portraits of rulers developed in the 16th century, and later in Persia, then becoming very popular. Mughal portraits, normally in profile, are very finely drawn in a realist style, while the best Ottoman ones are vigorously stylized.

Album miniatures typically featured picnic scenes, portraits of individuals or in India especially animals, or idealized youthful beauties of either sex. Chinese influences included the early adoption of the vertical format natural to a book, which led to the development of a birds-eye view where a very carefully depicted background of hilly landscape or palace buildings rises up to leave only a small area of sky.

The figures are arranged in different planes on the background, with recession distance from the viewer indicated by placing more distant figures higher up in the space, but at essentially the same size. The colours, which are often very well preserved, are strongly contrasting, bright and clear.

Middle-Ages Science - Medieval Period - History of Science

The tradition reached a climax in the 16th and early 17th centuries, but continued until the early 19th century, and has been revived in the 20th. No Islamic artistic product has become better known outside the Islamic world than the pile carpet, more commonly referred to as the Oriental carpet oriental rug. Their versatility is utilized in everyday Islamic and Muslim life, from floor coverings to architectural enrichment, from cushions to bolsters to bags and sacks of all shapes and sizes, and to religious objects such as a prayer rug , which would provide a clean place to pray.

They have been a major export to other areas since the late Middle Ages, used to cover not only floors but tables, for long a widespread European practice that is now common only in the Netherlands. Carpet weaving is a rich and deeply embedded tradition in Islamic societies, and the practice is seen in large city factories as well as in rural communities and nomadic encampments. In earlier periods, special establishments and workshops were in existence that functioned directly under court patronage.

Very early Islamic carpets, i. More have survived in the West and oriental carpets in Renaissance painting from Europe are a major source of information on them, as they were valuable imports that were painted accurately. Since the flowing loops and curves of the arabesque are central to Islamic art, the interaction and tension between these two styles was long a major feature of carpet design. There are a few survivals of the grand Egyptian 16th century carpets, including one almost as good as new discovered in the attic of the Pitti Palace in Florence, whose complex patterns of octagon roundels and stars, in just a few colours, shimmer before the viewer.

These use a design style shared with non-figurative Islamic illumination and other media, often with a large central gul motif, and always with wide and strongly demarcated borders. The grand designs of the workshops patronized by the court spread out to smaller carpets for the merely wealthy and for export, and designs close to those of the 16th and 17th centuries are still produced in large numbers today.

The description of older carpets has tended to use the names of carpet-making centres as labels, but often derived from the design rather than any actual evidence that they originated from around that centre. Research has clarified that designs were by no means always restricted to the centre they are traditionally associated with, and the origin of many carpets remains unclear.

Spanish carpets, which sometimes interrupted typical Islamic patterns to include coats of arms , enjoyed high prestige in Europe, being commissioned by royalty and for the Papal Palace, Avignon , and the industry continued after the Reconquista. The Berber carpets of North Africa have a distinct design tradition. Apart from the products of city workshops, in touch with trading networks that might carry the carpets to markets far away, there was also a large and widespread village and nomadic industry producing work that stayed closer to traditional local designs.

As well as pile carpets, kelims and other types of flat-weave or embroidered textiles were produced, for use on both floors and walls. Figurative designs, sometimes with large human figures, are very popular in Islamic countries but relatively rarely exported to the West, where abstract designs are generally what the market expects. Early Islamic columns followed the style seen in the classic period of the Mediterranean. These columns can vary in form from being completely smooth, and having vertical or twisting fluting.

Islamic arches, similar to columns, followed a style similar to Roman architecture. However, in India, islamic arches take shape after being pointed, lobed, or ogee. Islamic art has very notable achievements in ceramics, both in pottery and tiles for walls, which in the absence of wall-paintings were taken to heights unmatched by other cultures. Early pottery is often unglazed, but tin-opacified glazing was one of the earliest new technologies developed by the Islamic potters.

The first Islamic opaque glazes can be found as blue-painted ware in Basra , dating to around the 8th century. Another significant contribution was the development of stonepaste ceramics , originating from 9th century Iraq. Islamic pottery was often influenced by Chinese ceramics , whose achievements were greatly admired and emulated. Techniques, shapes and decorative motifs were all affected. Until the Early Modern period Western ceramics had very little influence, but Islamic pottery was very sought after in Europe, and often copied.

An example of this is the albarello , a type of maiolica earthenware jar originally designed to hold apothecaries' ointments and dry drugs. The development of this type of pharmacy jar had its roots in the Islamic Middle East. Hispano-Moresque examples were exported to Italy, stimulating the earliest Italian examples, from 15th century Florence. The Hispano-Moresque style emerged in Al-Andaluz or Muslim Spain in the 8th century, under Egyptian influence, but most of the best production was much later, by potters presumed to have been largely Muslim but working in areas reconquered by the Christian kingdoms.

It mixed Islamic and European elements in its designs, and much was exported across neighbouring European countries. It had introduced two ceramic techniques to Europe : glazing with an opaque white tin-glaze , and painting in metallic lusters. Ottoman İznik pottery produced most of the best work in the 16th century, in tiles and large vessels boldly decorated with floral motifs influenced, once again, by Chinese Yuan and Ming ceramics. These were still in earthenware; there was no porcelain made in Islamic countries until modern times, though Chinese porcelain was imported and admired.

The medieval Islamic world also had pottery with painted animal and human imagery. Examples are found throughout the medieval Islamic world, particularly in Persia and Egypt. The earliest grand Islamic buildings, like the Dome of the Rock , in Jerusalem had interior walls decorated with mosaics in the Byzantine style, but without human figures. From the 9th century onwards the distinctive Islamic tradition of glazed and brightly coloured tiling for interior and exterior walls and domes developed.

Some earlier schemes create designs using mixtures of tiles each of a single colour that are either cut to shape or are small and of a few shapes, used to create abstract geometric patterns. Later large painted schemes use tiles painted before firing with a part of the scheme — a technique requiring confidence in the consistent results of firing. Some elements, especially the letters of inscriptions, may be moulded in three-dimensional relief , and in especially in Persia certain tiles in a design may have figurative painting of animals or single human figures.

These were often part of designs mostly made up of tiles in plain colours but with larger fully painted tiles at intervals. The larger tiles are often shaped as eight-pointed stars, and may show animals or a human head or bust, or plant or other motifs. The geometric patterns, such as modern North African zellige work, made of small tiles each of a single colour but different and regular shapes, are often referred to as " mosaic ", which is not strictly correct.

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The Mughals made much less use of tiling, preferring and being able to afford "parchin kari", a type of pietra dura decoration from inlaid panels of semi-precious stones, with jewels in some cases. This can be seen at the Taj Mahal , Agra Fort and other imperial commissions. The motifs are usually floral, in a simpler and more realistic style than Persian or Turkish work, relating to plants in Mughal miniatures.

Islam took over much of the traditional glass-producing territory of Sassanian and Ancient Roman glass , and since figurative decoration played a small part in pre-Islamic glass, the change in style is not abrupt, except that the whole area initially formed a political whole, and, for example, Persian innovations were now almost immediately taken up in Egypt. For this reason it is often impossible to distinguish between the various centres of production, of which Egypt, Syria and Persia were the most important, except by scientific analysis of the material, which itself has difficulties.

Between the 8th and early 11th centuries the emphasis in luxury glass is on effects achieved by "manipulating the surface" of the glass, initially by incising into the glass on a wheel, and later by cutting away the background to leave a design in relief. Lustre painting, by techniques similar to lustreware in pottery, dates back to the 8th century in Egypt, and became widespread in the 12th century. Another technique was decoration with threads of glass of a different colour, worked into the main surface, and sometimes manipulated by combing and other effects.

Gilded , painted and enamelled glass were added to the repertoire, and shapes and motifs borrowed from other media, such as pottery and metalwork. Some of the finest work was in mosque lamps donated by a ruler or wealthy man. As decoration grew more elaborate, the quality of the basic glass decreased, and it "often has a brownish-yellow tinge, and is rarely free from bubbles". By about the Venetians were receiving large orders for mosque lamps. Medieval Islamic metalwork offers a complete contrast to its European equivalent, which is dominated by modelled figures and brightly coloured decoration in enamel , some pieces entirely in precious metals.

In contrast surviving Islamic metalwork consists of practical objects mostly in brass , bronze, and steel, with simple, but often monumental, shapes, and surfaces highly decorated with dense decoration in a variety of techniques, but colour mostly restricted to inlays of gold, silver, copper or black niello.

The most abundant survivals from medieval periods are fine brass objects, handsome enough to preserve, but not valuable enough to be melted down.

The Dark Ages

The abundant local sources of zinc compared to tin explains the rarity of bronze. Household items, such as ewers or water pitchers, were made of one or more pieces of sheet brass soldered together and subsequently worked and inlaid.

15. Islamic Conquests and Civil War

The use of drinking and eating vessels in gold and silver, the ideal in ancient Rome and Persia as well as medieval Christian societies, is prohibited by the Hadiths , as was the wearing of gold rings. Islamic work includes some three-dimensional animal figures as fountainheads or aquamaniles , but only one significant enamelled object is known, using Byzantine cloisonne techniques. More common objects given elaborate decoration include massive low candlesticks and lamp-stands, lantern lights, bowls, dishes, basins, buckets these probably for the bath , [45] and ewers , as well as caskets, pen-cases and plaques.

Ewers and basins were brought for hand-washing before and after each meal, so are often lavishly treated display pieces. A typical 13th century ewer from Khorasan is decorated with foliage, animals and the Signs of the Zodiac in silver and copper, and carries a blessing. Decoration is typically densely packed and very often includes arabesques and calligraphy, sometimes naming an owner and giving a date.

High levels of achievement were reached in other materials, including hardstone carvings and jewellery, ivory carving, textiles and leatherwork. During the Middle Ages, Islamic work in these fields was highly valued in other parts of the world and often traded outside the Islamic zone. Apart from miniature painting and calligraphy, other arts of the book are decorative illumination, the only type found in Qur'an manuscripts, and Islamic book covers, which are often highly decorative in luxury manuscripts, using either the geometric motifs found in illumination, or sometimes figurative images probably drawn for the craftsmen by miniature painters.

Materials include coloured, tooled and stamped leather and lacquer over paint. Egyptian carving of rock crystal into vessels appears in the late 10th century, and virtually disappears after about There are a number of these vessels in the West, which apparently came on the market after the Cairo palace of the Fatimid Caliph was looted by his mercenaries in , and were snapped up by European buyers, mostly ending up in church treasuries.

Such objects may have been made in earlier periods, but few have survived. Older wood carving is typically relief or pierced work on flat objects for architectural use, such as screens, doors, roofs, beams and friezes. These are often in wood, sometimes painted on the wood but often plastered over before painting; the examples at the Alhambra in Granada, Spain are among the best known.

Traditional Islamic furniture, except for chests, tended to be covered with cushions, with cupboards rather than cabinets for storage, but there are some pieces, including a low round strictly twelve-sided table of about from the Ottoman court, with marquetry inlays in light wood, and a single huge ceramic tile or plaque on the tabletop. A spectacular and famous and far from flat roof was one of the Islamic components of the 12th century Norman Cappella Palatina in Palermo , which picked from the finest elements of Catholic, Byzantine and Islamic art.

Other famous wooden roofs are in the Alhambra in Granada. Ivory carving centred on the Mediterranean , spreading from Egypt, where a thriving Coptic industry had been inherited; Persian ivory is rare.

The normal style was a deep relief with an even surface; some pieces were painted. Spain specialized in caskets and round boxes, which were probably used to keep jewels and perfumes. They were produced mainly in the approximate period —, and widely exported. Many pieces are signed and dated, and on court pieces the name of the owner is often inscribed; they were typically gifts from a ruler. As well as a court workshop, Cordoba had commercial workshops producing goods of slightly lower quality.

In the 12th and 13th century workshops in Norman Sicily produced caskets, apparently then migrating to Granada and elsewhere after persecution. Egyptian work tended to be in flat panels and friezes, for insertion into woodwork and probably furniture — most are now detached from their settings. Many were calligraphic, and others continued Byzantine traditions of hunting scenes, with backgrounds of arabesques and foliage in both cases.

Despite Hadithic sayings against the wearing of silk, the Byzantine and Sassanian traditions of grand figured silk woven cloth continued under Islam. Some designs are calligraphic, especially when made for palls to cover a tomb, but more are surprisingly conservative versions of the earlier traditions, with many large figures of animals, especially majestic symbols of power like the lion and eagle.