Earthenware tin glazed in blue and copper lustre, diameter 17 cm
The lustre glaze technique comes from the Arab world and blossomed after a ban was passed in Islamic countries on the use of valuable precious metals for everyday items, as the iridescent effect of a lustre glaze simulates a metalic finish. After Andalusia was conquered in the 8th century, lustreware reached Spain where its production had its heyday in the 14th and 15th centuries. Vessels were very popular and were exported primarily via Mallorca to Italy where this metallic glaze could not be produced.
1001 Nights in Granada
As beautiful as in paradise
Our plate dates from the culture of the Moors who ruled large swathes of the Iberian peninsula and North Africa for several centuries. The Moorish emirate during the Nasrid dynasty is famous for its artistic and architectural masterpieces. Members of the ruling dynasty included Mohammed V (1338–1391) who had the so-called Courtyard of the Lions, with its surrounding gallery supported on columns, erected in the fortress palace, the Alhambra, in Granada. Under this emir Granada advanced into a centre of Islamic culture in western Europe.
In the Mediterranean
Majolica is an island
For the Spanish, the island was known as Mallorca, but the Italians called it Majolica in the Middle Ages. And this is the word used in Italy to describe the hugely popular Moorish ceramics, finished with a lustre glaze, that were exported from Spain via Mallorca. When the Italians learnt how to master the tin-glazing technique and underglaze painting applied on top of this, the name of these exported articles was transferred to their own product.
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