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Painting Politics in the Alhambra

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This article endeavours to shed new light on the meaning of the ten Muslim male figures depicted in the central vault of the Hall of Justice in the Alhambra. First, new chronologies are attempted for the hall and the painting according to historical evidence contained in chronicles and literary sources. The study of the architectural frame of the paintings, interpreted as a madrasa-zawiya, suggests a relationship between the painting and the books intended to be kept below it. Therefore, an analysis of the emir's literary entourage is basic for the interpretation of the ceiling. Finally, the question of armouries and shields to be found in the vault is taken into account to demonstrate that some of this work may have been re-elaborated by Christians after taking possession of the palaces. The shields and the concept of the Order of the Band are too far from Islamic tradition as to belong to the original design of this painting, as critical examination of the Order's internal code shows.

Affiliations: 1: Facultad de Geografía e Historia, Universidad Nacional de Educacion a Distancia Paseo de la Senda del Rey 7, 28040 Madrid, Spain


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