Wednesday, 17 December 2008

Alhambra Diaper

Surface all,
Recess and wall,
From top to pavement here do shine,
In glory drest !
Where eye may rest,
Lo! diaper of Alhambra's shrine,
Web jinu-wove, where gazer sees
Real all unrealities !

Fairy Life in Fairyland 1869
Thomas Cargill

Jinn or Djinn - Arabic for demons or spirits. In Islamic demonology, an order of spirits lower than the angels, said to have the power of assuming human and animal forms, and to exercise supernatural influence over men. The singular form "Jinnee" is more familar as a Genie.

This fantastical pattern was woven, not by genies, but by Owen Jones. His book 'The Grammar of Ornament' was published in 1856. Plate XLI Moresque 3 - nÂș 7 was taken from the Alhambra, more precisely from ornament in panels of the Hall of the Abencerrages. Owen classifed this pattern as a LOZENGE DIAPER. About these he had the following observations to make: The general effect of Plate XLI will, we think, at once justify the superiority we have claimed for the ornament of the Moors. Composed of but three colours, they are more harmonious and effective than any others in our collection, and possess a peculiar charm which all the others fail to approach. The various principles for which we have contended, the constructive idea whereby each leading line rests upon another, the gradual transitions from curve to curve, the tangential curvatures of the lines, the flowing off of the ornaments from a parent stem, the tracing of each flower to its branch and root, the division and subdivision of general lines, will readily be perceived in every ornament on the page.

Hall of the Abencerrages, Alhambra

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