moorish influence


When the topic of the Moorish influence in Europe is being discussed, one of the first questions that arises is, what race were they?
As early as the Middle Ages, “Moors were commonly viewed as being mostly black or very swarthy, and hence the word is often used for negro,” according to the Oxford English Dictionary.
Author and historian Chancellor Williams said “the original Moors, like the original Egyptians, were black Africans.”
The 16th century English playwright William Shakespeare used the word Moor as a synonym for African. His contemporary Christopher Marlowe also used African and Moor interchangeably.
Arab writers further buttress the black identity of the Moors. The powerful Moorish Emperor Yusuf ben-Tachfin is described by an Arab chronicler as “a brown man with wooly hair.”
Black soldiers, specifically identified as Moors, were actively recruited by Rome, and served in Britain, France, Switzerland, Austria, Hungary, Poland, and Romania. St. Maurice, patron saint of medieval Europe, was only one of many black soldiers and officers under the employ of the Roman Empire.
Although generations of Spanish rulers have tried to expunge this era from the historical record, recent archeology and scholarship now shed fresh light on the Moors who flourished in Al-Andalus for more than 700 years – from 711 AD until 1492. The Moorish advances in mathematics, astronomy, art, and agriculture helped propel Europe out of the Dark Ages and into the Renaissance.
Moorish Chess - A depiction of Moorish noblemen playing the board game Book of Games, 1283 ADUniversal Education
The Moors brought enormous learning to Spain that over centuries would percolate through the rest of Europe.
The intellectual achievements of the Moors in Spain had a lasting effect; education was universal in Moorish Spain, while in Christian Europe, 99 percent of the population was illiterate, and even kings could neither read nor write. At a time when Europe had only two universities, the Moors had seventeen, located in Almeria, Cordova, Granada, Juen, Malaga, Seville, and Toledo.
In the 10th and 11th centuries, public libraries in Europe were non-existent, while Moorish Spain could boast of more than 70, including one in Cordova that housed hundreds of thousands of manuscripts. Universities in Paris and Oxford were established after visits by scholars to Moorish Spain.
It was this system of education, taken to Europe by the Moors, that seeded the European Renaissance and brought the continent out of the 1,000 years of intellectual and physical gloom of the Middle Ages.

El Capricho well defined style of the early days of the architect Antonio Gaudí, with strong Moorish influence and alternate between medievalism and orientalizantes touches. It is a rich roundness building in highlighting the brick i glazed ceramic strips that decorate the facade.


There’s no denying it: The architecture on the National Mall commands a kind of weighty reverence. From the neoclassical columns of the Capitol dome to the immense, white marble of the Lincoln Memorial, charm does not seem to have been the design goal for the nation’s front lawn. Save for one standout: the Smithsonian’s Arts and Industries Building, which, until this summer, had been chained shut for years.

With its colorful facade, arched windows, spires and rotunda, the A and I (as it’s often called) is a festive relief. Even the building’s next-door neighbor, the brownish-red Smithsonian Castle, feels somber by comparison.

But despite the perky building’s popularity, its reopening was hardly grand. Why so little fanfare? Lack of funding seems to be one explanation.

Belle Of The Mall: Saving Smithsonian’s Jewel-Like Arts And Industries Building

Photos: Ariel Zambelich/NPR, Detroit Publishing Co./Library of Congress, Bettmann Archive/Getty Images

iopanosiris  asked:

Quite some time ago you had made a reference to caves or subterranean spaces, I believe in old Spain if I recall correctly, in which some would gather to study and learn black magic. Is any of this ringing a bell? I was wondering if you ever made any posts detailing this.

Oh, man. I think about that shit, like, once a week. I’ve only made slight amounts of progress in digging into it. Nonetheless, here’s a section from a manual of magic that displaced Reginald Scot’s The Discoverie of Witchcraft in the 19th century (it contained segments of Scot’s work, which had by then fallen out of print, and the cunning-folk bought copies of it like it was goin’ out of style):

“That witchcraft did exist, it is clear, and not a few believe in the same to this day. In Toledo, Seville, and Salamanca; and in various parts of Italy, there were public schools where the art of magic was disseminated to a select few who were ever ready to attend. They were commonly held in deep caverns, and in such dark and mysterious places as eluded the haunt of man, and where none but the pupils and fiends of despair ever trod. Hence it is derive its name of BLACK ART.”
- Witchcraft Detected and Prevented: The School of the Black Art Newly Opened.

For Basque witches, one of the terms used for the ‘Sabbat’ was the ‘Akelarre,’ which in and of itself refers to a meadow. However, ‘Akelarrenlezea‘ was a cave where witches were believed to gather. Additionally, we have a few scattered references that show up about a ‘Cave of Salamanca’ (which, I think, was seen as similar to the Sibyl’s cavern inside the ‘Sibyllenberg’). In American Folk Legend by Wayland Debs Hand, there’s even a reference that seems to indicate how far such legendary areas spread in popular culture:

“[…]Julia Vicuna Cifuentes notes that Chilean witches refer to their meeting place as “Salamanca” or the “Cave of Salamanca” in reference to the reputed academy of Spanish witchcraft and sorcery located there. […]”
(P. 113)

The other day I also came across this:

“Last night, my friend Megan and I searched google for free things to do in Salamanca and one site kept coming up: la cueva de Salamanca or the cave of Salamanca. The cave of Salamanca apparently was a cursed crypt of the Old Roman church San Cerbrain. The church itself was destroyed and the building materials used to construct the Old Cathedral. San Cerbrain was rumored to have a crypt in which the devil himself taught classes on dark magic to seven disciples. […]

Today in Latin America, the word “salamanca” means a place where witches and demons gather.”

There’s other scattered references, too. Irish Witchcraft and Demolonology by St. John Drelincourt Seymour has another reference point:

“This papal candidate was none other than the famous Michael Scot, reputed a wizard of such potency that –
When in Salamanca’s cave
Him listed his magic wand to wave
The bells would ring in Notre Dame
.‘” (P. 52.)

I am tempted to also compare being taught / initiated by spirits in caves existed in antiquity. There certainly was the Oracle of Trophonios at Delphi, where individuals went to have the Daimon who had been the Master Architect of Delphi reveal the future to them at his Katabastion (“Place of Descent”). However, amongst the Dacians and Thracians, we also have the Getae tribe who Herodotus tells us descended into the cavern of Zalmoxis to deal with their immortalizing Daimon-God. This practice existed within the range they wandered, from the Black Sea to North of the Danube. Additionally, in Witchcraft in the Middle Ages, I recall J.B. Russel mentioning that early witchcraft trials (10th century CE - 12th century CE iirc) involved ‘orgies in caves’ where ‘the torches were put out’ which sounds like it belongs to the same strata of mythology.

But Spain is strangely specific: the Cave of Salamanca is repeatedly mentioned. So, too, are mentions of such rites at Toledo. It is also connected to the ‘traveling scholars’ / ‘wandering scholars’ / ‘Clerici Vagantes’ in letters by the early Lutherans:

“Oporinus of Basle, formerly a disciple and companion of Theophrastus, narrates some wonderful things concerning the latter’s dealings with demons. Such men practice vain astrology, geomancy, necromancy, and similarly prohibited arts. […] This has been practiced at Salamanca in Spain down to this day. From that school came those commonly called ‘wandering scholars,’ among whom a certain Faust, who died not long since, is very celebrated.”
- From the ‘Epistolae Medicinales’ of Conrad Gesner. [Letter from Gesner to Johannes Crato of Kraftheim.] (The Sources of the Faust Tradition. P. 100 - 101. Italix mine.)

What I haven’t figured out is the whether or not the Spanish witchcraft ideas involving caves and ‘academies’ of black magic involve Moorish influence predating the Reconquista. There are no shortage of practices involving dealing with the Djinn / Genii in caves in the Middle East, and I really do suspect that the Moors may have had a hand in these very odd, but very interesting stories.

Furthermore, while scattered, the references are too consistent to entirely involve folk beliefs. I’m sure people were actually doing weird shit in caves in Spain. But I still need to dig more.

anonymous asked:

the problem with Dorne that we don't exactly know from where grrm inspired from, Some say Middle east Some say Spain Some say India .

GRRM literally said he drew inspiration for Dorne from “Moorish influences in Spain” and “Palestine”. Literally his words. I wrote all about how Dorne’s conquest by Nymeria parallels Spain’s conquest by the Moors and how intermarriage between the Rhoynar and the native Dornish has given way to a population that all has some measure of Rhoynish blood. In there I also sort the salty, sandy, and stony Dornishman by ethnicity and explain how the geography of Dorne matches Palestine’s almost perfectly.

GRRM never said he drew influences from India. All he said is that Janina Gavankar looks like his Lady Nym. Janina is half-Indian, half-Dutch, Lady Nym is half-Volantene, half-Dornish. How on earth someone can take this to mean that Dorne shares parallels with India, I don’t know.

Some of the foods Dorne is famous for (namely pomegranates, olives, citrus fruits) are all native to MENA. Palestine is practically famous for its olives because our olive trees are so precious to us and ancient. Families have been growing them for generations upon generations.

The famous Dornish sand steeds can rightly be compared to Arabian horses in appearances, speed, and endurance. Dornish sand steeds are regarded as some of the best horses in Westeros, much like how Arabian horses are regarded as the best in the world. 

The maritime trade routes established by Dorne to Essos can be compared to the maritime trade routes dominated by Muslim traders in the mediterranean. Dorne has freaking caravans for crying out loud. Isn’t that an element of every non-MENA person’s mental MENA starter pack? Deserts, camels, and caravans?

Even in GoT, they filmed the Water Garden scenes in the Alcazar of Seville, a beautiful Moorish castle in Spain. That castle was literally built by Moorish Muslims and incorporates countless traditional arabesque architectural elements.

Oh, and FYI, MENA encapsulates basically every skin, hair, and eye color under the sun. I’m a light skinned Palestinian with thick curly black hair and green eyes. I have cousins who are blonde with blue eyes. I also have cousins with dark olive skin and black eyes. We’re all from neighboring cities in Palestine and share the same grandparents.

The excuses to not fancast or parallel Dorne as MENA are lazy at best, insulting at worst. Maybe you have your own ~headcanons~ or whatever but when elements of Arab culture are so apparent in descriptions of Dorne it really begins to boggle the mind. I’m sure most of this mischaracterization is out of pure ignorance and not anything malicious, but for those who are still baffled, West Asians and South Asians are not interchangeable. Maybe a lot of you are satisfied by looking at all of us and yelling “brown people!” and it makes you feel like a beacon for diversity, but we each have our own beautiful and unique cultures. I personally, after much research and reading, find that Dorne is more similar to MENA than India by far. My evidence has been all laid out above. You can take it or leave it, but just know that I’ve got my eye trained on everyone who claims to love Rami Malek and yet refuse to fancast any MENA actor beyond Alexander Siddig as a Dornishman. Just saying.