Moorish Art

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Moorish Art


(Moorish style), the name given to the medieval art that developed in the 11th through 15th centuries in North Africa and southern Spain.

Moorish art, a blending of the traditions of the Arabian Caliphate, the Berbers, and the Visigoths, was not homogeneous. Developing in different ways in Algeria, Tunisia, Morocco, and Arab Spain (Hispano-Moresque art), it underwent a complex evolution from clear tectonic forms, often emphasized by restrained decoration (Great Mosque in Algiers), to the dissolution of forms in lavish ornamentation (Alhambra). Typical of Moorish art are mosques with multinave prayer halls opening onto inner courtyards, square minarets, and picturesquely laid out palaces. Both religious and secular structures employ pointed horseshoe and scalloped arches, stalactite domes, friezes, cornices, artesonado, stucco and wood wall carvings, columns faced with tiles, ceramic and glass mosaics, stained-glass windows, and colored marble. Both buildings and applied art objects have elaborate ornamentation saturated with floral, geometric, and epigraphic motifs, for example, the 14th-century faience Fortuny Vase, found in the Alhambra and now displayed in the Hermitage in Leningrad.


Vseobshchaia istoriia arkhitektury, vol. 8. Moscow, 1969.
Marçais, G. L’Architecture musulmane d’Occident. Paris, 1954.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
The essays tell us far too little about the British writers researching on the spot: Swinburne on Moorish art; Ford and Stirring on Murillo and Velazquez; Samuel Edward Cook (Widdrington) on Zurbaran, including the little visited series at Guadalupe; Stirling on El Greco and on Goya's prints and drawings.
This military conquest erased not only scientific activity, but also the scientific heritage, and finished by eliminating all Moorish art and handicraft.
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