Islam vs Christianity or Islam and Christianity
Islam vs Christianity or Islam and Christianity, two extended religions and cultures face to face.
In fact, we are speaking of two extended religions that have conformed two extended cultures. Face to face, Muslims and Christians have been living together for centuries and not always fighting. In the Iberian Peninsula, they coexisted during 800 years (from 711 to 1492). The consequence brought some artistic jewels. Today I would like to honor the Mozarabic art, humble but beautiful, poor materials but great architectonic solutions, the real art of a legendary time.
The Mozarabs were Iberian Christians who lived under Islamic rules in Al-Andalus (today, the South of Spain: Andalucia). Although, their descendants continued unconverted to Islam, they adopt elements of Arabic language, art and culture and afterwards, they will mix this knowledge with the Christian one creating a really interesting art movement:
Mozarabic art: Islam vs Christianity or Islam and Christianity
During the Middle Ages, Spain didn’t exist as a country. Basically, it was divided into two different cultures and powers: Christian lands at the North of the Iberian Peninsula, and Muslim lands at the South.
At the beginning of the 8th century (711) a Muslim army from the North of Africa had entered in the Peninsula. Its leaders where Tariq and Muza.
Quickly, they conquest all the Iberian Peninsula with the exception of the high mountains of the North. There, Don Pelayo, a Christian warrior, organized the resistance (battle of Covadonga). Thus, during the next centuries, Christian people from the North were reconquering the lost territories.
In the middle of the 9th century, the Christian territory was big enough as to consolidate some Kingdoms (Asturias, Leon, Pamplona or Aragon). Then, very many Christian people who had been forced to live in the Muslim territories emigrated to the North, where they can settle down easily and with the typical privileges of a resettlement.
Some of them were priests and they built churches in their new home. In these churches they mixed elements of the Islamic architecture (brick and, above all, horseshoe arches framed by a molding called alfiz) with traditional Christian elements (building plant with the shape of a
cross and tours with bells).
Little beautiful churches full of arches which seem an artificial colorist forest covert by vaults as St. Baudelio in Berlanga, Soria (9th century). I like personally the exterior of St. Miguel de la Escalada in Leon (912), which reminds me of a Japanese pagoda.
Other interesting churches are Santiago de Peñalba (Leon); St. Cebrian de Mazote (Valladolid); St. Maria de Melque (Toledo).
They wrote also books and the miniatures of them are absolutely exquisite. See the Apocalypses illustrated by the Beatus of Liebana.
Sometimes, history teaches us more than the present and to learn of the past gives us hope of coexistence.
**Tomorrow, we will speak about Mudejar art. The other face of Mozarabic art since Mudejar is the art that Muslim architects will do in Christian lands when the Reconquest was developed and Al-Andalys was smaller than the Christian kingdoms.
Here an interesting video about Toledo (Spain). It was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1986 for its extensive cultural and monumental heritage as one of the former places of coexistence of Christian, Jewish and Moorish cultures.
Islam vs Christianity