Category Archives: Cee’s Fun Photo Challenge
Spanish (Andalusian) Tiles following the Arabic and Moorish traditions
The Spanish word for tile, ‘azulejo’, is derived from the Arabic word, الزليج (az-zulayj) meaning “polished stone”. This origin explains the unmistakable Arab influences in many modern Spanish tiles, which interlock curvilinear, geometric or floral motifs.
In the 15th century, cities in the south of Spain, a region called, Andalusia, became the major centre of the tile industry, employing the ancient craft passed on through generations. The original tiles were glazed in a single colour and decorated with geometric patterns. They were applied on walls and used for paving floors.
Islamic artists and craftsmen who worked in cities such as Cordoba, Granada, and Seville, from the 8th to the 15th centuries, crafted these tiles Based on eight geometric patterns. The mosaics were handmade with many different-shaped pieces which all fit together. It is believed that the origin of the designs came out of artistic limitations for Muslims, who by strict Islamic law were not allowed to depict living beings and therefore expressed their art through shapes, colours, or the words of the Coran.
The traditional colours used were, brown, green, white, saffron, blue and black, which had symbolic meaning in Islam. White, black and brown symbolized the spirit under Sufi imagery. The 4 elements were represented by Red for fire, dry and hot, yellow for air, moist and hot, blue for earth, dry and cold, green for water, moist and cold. Contemplating the tiles inspired the viewer into a meditation which often had religious implications.
Master craftsmen would be apprenticed from a young age and learn how to design and create grand mosaics with the tiles. The use of these tiles became a symbol of sophistication and wealth in many homes. During the Marinid dynasty in 13th-15th century Morocco, it was also used in ornamenting walls, fountains, tables, floors, countertops, ceilings, and sometimes even entire mosques.
The overlaps between Moorish and Spanish, Islamic and Christian are evident to anyone who visits many ancient buildings, gardens and palaces of southern Spain. This mixed art form of Moorish art combined with the Christian culture, is called the Mudejar style. The Alcazar of Sevilla, the Alhambra Palace, and the Mosque in Cordoba, include some magnificent examples. There are also similar examples of Moorish style tiles in Portugal, and Italy.
The tiles I have chosen in the picture decorate the lower part of the wall of the entrance to this beautiful 18th century building, which was a palace, and is now divided into many small apartments, for sale or rent.
These tiles have a clearly Christian influence because they include floral motifs, which are not found in Islamic art.
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This week Cee suggests we look at squares, triangles and angles, so I’ve opened my eyes wide along my daily walk to work, once more, and I’ve scrutinised everything around me, until I discovered the right shapes.
I finally found the squares and angles on the floor, under my very feet.
I walk along beautiful, and sometimes wobbly, cobbled streets like these every day.
These are the squares on the floor entering the mosque.
The most famous road builders were the Romans, who built an impressive network of over 50,000 miles of road, which as the saying goes, led to Rome.
The Romans were the first to build cobbled streets, and this tradition was continued up to the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century, when asphalt became the favourite type of paving, because it was smoother, drier, cleaner, more quiet, and more modern.
With the advent of the automobile, the joints between the stones became an annoyance.
I can’t argue with that, but in spite of the wobbling and the noise, there is something magical about cobbled streets, don’t you agree?
Finally I couldn’t resist including (perhaps once more) a fragment of the Roman-Arab-Christian Ancient City Wall. Here we have squares and edges. The square bricks, and the edge of the city…
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Modern Bridge Facing Roman Bridge
For this weeks challenge, I’ve chosen two parallel bridges in the city where I live.
Bridges are essential constructions, which are often taken for granted, although most of us need to cross them on a daily basis.
A bridge is a very useful building, because it helps us overcome obstacles in our journeys, such as water or valleys.
Symbolically, bridges convey positive mental images, such as assistance, understanding, advancement, progress, safety, etc.
The greatest bridge builders of antiquity were the ancient Romans, who built arch bridges which are still standing, such as the one in this photograph I took on Friday. It is the Roman bridge in Cordoba, Spain, which is still used and admired, by both tourists and local dwellers.
The photograph of the Roman Bridge was taken from this other new bridge, built in 2003, called ‘Miraflores’ Bridge. It literally means ‘the bridge overlooking the flowers’
Their parallel lines face each along the ‘Gualdalquivir’ river. A striking contrast of straight lines from different centuries bringing together two sides of a busy town.
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As every week, I’ve been looking for inspiration for Cee’s picture prompts in things I see every day.
In this case, crooked and squiggly things around me.
I finally came up with a couple of things.
Firstly my baby orange tree. The oranges are tiny at the moment, and they won’t be fully grown and edible until some time between November and December.
The leaves are curly more than squiggly…
I love their intense green colour.
I also thought these clouds I saw this afternoon, were pretty squiggly
And these other clouds seen this evening, as I was playing in my garden with my gransdon, look squiggly, too, don’t you think?
In any case, Cee’s fun photo challenge makes me look at the things I see every day in a new way, this week in a squiggly way!
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EDGING TO WORK…
For this week’s challenge, I’ve decided to take you for a walk along the edges I see every morning on my way to work.
I park my car at the University of Cordoba’s main office. This twentieth-century neo-Moorish building, used to be the Faculty of Veterinary Science, before it was transferred to another larger building, outside the town. The edges are both round and square. In any case they jut out majestically into the morning air. More information on Moorish architecture.
As I walk on I come across this ancient Roman Wall, rugged with age, which was later rebuilt by the Muslim, and later Northern Spanish Castilian conquerors, and is currently viewed by tourists in awe of past times when soldiers bearing bows and arrows would defend their town.
This is the edge of the Faculty of Arts, where I work in the afternoons. It used to be a Palace, then a hospital for the poor, and now all the classrooms have long windows and small balconies. The wooden shutters bear tragic inscriptions with names and dates of ailing patients.
The most magnificent edge I see is the Mosque, built over a Visigothic Temple, whose remains can be visited. The Mosque has been Christianized by various Renaissance architects and its walls are covered with images of Catholic saints, there’s even a Cathedral inside!
The next edge is the base of a column to Saint Rafael, Protector of the city. This is the edge of his ornamented pedestal, overlooking the river. Just behind it on the left is the Posada del Potro, which is mentioned by Cervantes in Don Quixote.
The edges of this fountain, which is now a refreshing decoration, were used by horses less than half a century ago, to lean on as they quenched their thirst.
I’ve walked a few centuries in the last twenty-five minutes.
Two conclusions to my walk.
Firstly, the (comparatively) new neighbourhood, is much uglier…I much prefer the older buildings, don’t you?
Secondly, when my final walk is over, most of these edges will still be there… What a thought! How ephemeral life is and how lasting edges can be in contrast…
One wish: I wish for more beautiful edges, everywhere…
By the way, thanks Cee for inspiring me to look at edges as I had never done before!
Have a look at some of this week’s other entries
These aren’t exactly flowers, but I love palm trees. I’m sure it’s because I was brought up in London, and I only saw them when I travelled to Tenerife (Canary Islands) to visit my aunts and cousins who lived there. I loved my sunny holidays, so palm trees are a synonym for ‘paradise’ for me.
When I first moved to the house where now I live, almost twenty years ago, I decided that it was about time I had a palm tree of my own, in order to live in a permanent paradise…
This is my 20-year-old palm tree from the inside and the outside. It represents my heaven and my home. I love it.
Cee’s Fun Photo Challenge Badge
I love the sea. I’ve probably taken more photos of the sea than of anything else! I love these pictures because they capture foamy and furious waves near the shore. There I am mesmerized by the view…
They were taken in the seaside town of Santander in the north of Spain by the Cantabrian Sea which is a gulf off the northeast Atlantic Ocean. The original Cantabri were a pre-Roman Celtic people who lived in the Peninsula known as Hispania from the 4th to late 1st centuries BC. Regarded as savage and untamable mountaineers, the Cantabri warriors defied the Roman legions although they were finally Romanized.
Even today they are known for their independent spirit and love of freedom, like the waters which mercilessly beat against their shores… My ancestors were born there, and some of my close family still live there, so I can vouch for their courageous and independent nature… perhaps I have even inherited some of these characteristics myself!
By the way, my WordPress profile picture was taken there, too!
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