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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Reflections of the divine: Muslim, Christian and Jewish images on luster glazed ceramics in Late Medieval Iberia
by Velimirovic, Nada, Ph.D., Graduate Theological Union, 2016, 176; 10240733
Abstract (Summary)

For eight centuries, from 711 until 1492, a unique combination of political, cultural, and faith traditions coexisted in the mostly southern region of the Iberian Peninsula now called Spain. From the thirteenth century through the fifteenth century, two key production centers of luster glazed ceramics emerged in this region: Islamic-ruled Málaga and Christian-ruled Valencia. Muslim artisans using Islamic decorative motifs on reflective luster glaze ceramics created objects that patrons, including nobility and Christian royalty, clamored to collect. Initially, traditional Islamic decorative motifs dominated luster glazed ceramic production by Muslim artisans in Málaga; eventually, these artisans used combinations of Islamic and Christian motifs. As wars raged near Málaga, Muslim artisans migrated to Valencia—some converting to Christianity. Here, luster glazed ceramics evolved to include combinations of Islamic and Christian motifs, and, in one example, Islamic and Jewish motifs.

This investigation of Iberian luster glazed ceramics examines religious decorative motifs and their meaning by using a methodology that combines material culture studies and art history. Material culture studies seeks: (1) To find value and meaning in everyday objects; and (2) To introduce the understanding that visual motifs communicate in a different way than texts. Additions from art historians augment the conceptual framework: (1) Alois Riegl’s concept of Kunstwollen—that every artistic expression and artifact that is produced is a distillation of the entirety of creator’s worldview; and (2) Oleg Grabar’s definition of Islamic art as one that overpowers and transforms ethnic or geographical traditions. In this dissertation, religious decorative elements on Iberian luster glazed ceramics are categorized as: (1) Floral and vegetative motifs; (2) Geometric symbols; (3) Figurative images; (4) Christian family coats of arms; and (5) Calligraphic inscriptions.

This dissertation will demonstrate how Muslim, Christian, and Jewish artisans used and combined the visual expressions of their respective faith traditions in motifs that appear on luster glazed ceramics created in the Iberian Peninsula under both Islamic and Christian ruled territories. Investigation of objects previously deemed not worthy of scholarly attention provides a more nuanced understanding of how religious co-existence (convivencia in Spanish) was negotiated in daily life.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Nakasone, Ronald Y.
Commitee: Schroeder, Rossitza R., Yates, Wilson
School: Graduate Theological Union
Department: Art and Religion
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-A 78/05(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Religious history, Art history, Medieval history
Keywords: Andalusia, Ceramics, Convinvencia, Lusterware, Medieval, Spain
Publication Number: 10240733
ISBN: 978-1-369-34213-0
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