It is probable, therefore, that the lamp of the third Mohammed of Granada is now composed of two lamps, and that the primitive arrangement of its parts was altered by the ignorant. Eight chains would formerly suspend it, in the following order of its tiers or stages, from the dome of the mezquita. First and uppermost would come the shade; then, next to this, the set of tapering spheres; and, last and lowest, the saucer or platillo, which has disappeared. Further, and as Koranic law prescribed, the lamp would hold two lights - one to be kindled on the saucer, and the other underneath the shade.
1 These spheres recall the four great gilded globes of bronze, tapering from the bottom to the top, that crowned in olden days the Giralda tower of Seville. According to the Cronica General the glitter of these globes "de tan grande obra, e tan grandes, que no se podrien hacer otras tales," could be distinguished at a distance of eight leagues. On August 24th, 1395, when Seville was assailed by a frightful temp accompanied by an earthquake, the metal rod which pierced and held the globes was snapped, and the globes themselves were dashed into a myriad pieces on the azotea, scores of yards below.
Other articles of Spanish-Moorish ornamented bronze are thimbles, buckets, and the spherical perfume-burners which were used to roll upon the stone or marble pavement of a dwelling. Moorish thimbles, conical and uncouthly large, are not uncommonly met with at Granada. I have one, of which the above is an outline sketched to size.
Sometimes these Moorish thimbles are inscribed in Cufic lettering with phrases such as - "(May) the blessing of God and every kind of happiness (be destined for the owner of this thimble)"; or else the maker's name - "The work of Saif"; or a single word - "Blessing."
Lamp Of Mohammed The Third (Madrid Museum)
The thimbles from which I quote these legends are in the National Museum. The same collection includes a very finely wrought bronze bucket or acetre (Latin situlus; Arabic as-setl, the utensil for drawing water for a bath). The outside is covered with delicate ornamentation, varied with inscriptions of no great interest, invoking Allah's blessing on the owner or employer of the bucket, which is thought by Amador to be of Granadino workmanship, and to date from about the middle of the fourteenth century.
Not many specimens remain of early mediaeval Spanish bronzes wrought by Christian hands. Riano, who admits that "we can hardly trace any bronze of this period other than cathedral bells," mentions as probably proceeding from abroad the altar - fronts and statuettes, in gilt enamelled bronze, of Salamanca and elsewhere,1 and gives a short description of the bell, about six inches high (Pl. xxxv.), known as the Abbot Samson's, now in Cordova Museum. This object bears an early date (875 a.d.), and is inscribed, "Offert hoc munus Samson abbatis in domum Sancti Sebastiani martyris Christi, Era D. C. C. C. C. XIII.
1 See p. 50.
It is curious that Riano should make no mention of Spanish bronze processional crosses. In my chapter on gold, silver, and jewel work I mentioned those belonging to churches in the north of Spain. A bronze crucifix (Plate xxxvi.), believed to date from the beginning of the twelfth century, and proceeding from the monastery of Arbos, in the province of Leon, is now in the possession of Don Felix Granda Builla. It is undoubtedly of Spanish make, and probably was carried in processions. The style is pure Romanic, and the drawing of the ribs, extremities, and limbs is typically primitive. The sudarium is secured by the belt or parazonium. The feet, unpierced, rest on a supedanenm.
A bronze Renaissance parish cross of the sixteenth century, once hidden in a village of Asturias, was bought some thirty years ago by the museum of Madrid. The body of the cross is wood, covered on both sides with bronze plates wrought with figures of the Saviour as the holy infant and as full-grown man, and also with a figure of the Virgin. These figures were formerly painted, and traces of the colour yet remain. The cross was also silvered. The rest of the ornamentation consists of vases, flowers, and other subjects proper to Renaissance art.
Abbot Samson's Bell. (9th Century. Museum of Cordova)
A similar cross belongs to the parish church of San Julian de Recare, in the province of Lugo, while San Pedro de Donas, near Santiago in Galicia, possesses a processional cross of bronze, pierced along the edges in a pattern of trefoils and fleurs-de-lis, but otherwise undecorated.
Sometimes in Spanish bronze we find the handiwork of Moors and Christians picturesquely intermingled, as in the gates of Toledo cathedral (1337), and the Puertas del Perdon - forming the principal entrance to the Court of Orange Trees - of the mosque of Cordova, made of wood and covered with bronze plating decorated with irregular hexagons and Gothic and Arabic inscriptions. The knockers contain a scroll and flowers, and on the scroll the words, Benedictus Dominus Deus Israel. The gate of the same name of Seville cathedral (Pl. xxxvii.) is similar in workmanship, and is considered by Riano to be a good example of Moresque bronze-work.
While speaking of these doors, we should remember that Moorish craftsmen were employed to decorate or to repair the mosque of Cordova long after it had been converted to the worship of the Christians. When he was acting as viceroy in the year 1275, the Infante Don Fernando confirmed a letter of his father, King Alfonso, remitting tolls and taxes that would otherwise be leviable upon four Moors who worked in the cathedral. The Infante's confirmation, after recording that "one (of the four Moors) is dead and the other blind, in such wise that he can work no more," consents to the engagement of another two, Famet and Zahec by name, to fill their places, and who also are hereby exempted from the payment of all dues. Five years afterwards this privilege was reconfirmed by King Alfonso, and we are further told on this occasion that two of the Moorish four were albanis, or masons, and the others anaiares, or carpenters. As time progressed, the situation of the vanquished and humiliated Mussulmans grew more irksome. On October 25th, 1320, the Infante Don Sancho, who had usurped the throne, proclaimed, in ratification of a letter issued by his father, that all the Moorish carpenters, masons, sawyers, and other workmen and artificers of Cordova must work in the cathedral (presumably without a wage) for two days in every year.1
Bronze Crucifix (12th Century)