Treasures of Granada: The colorful lights of the East

In 800 years of Arab presence in the city of Granada we cannot help thinking about how much this culture has influenced many aspects of our culture, influencing arts, crafts, habits.

Among the most precious jewels of our city we certainly find the granadine lamp (or lantern), which finds its origin in the specialization of Arab artistic tinning. The aesthetics of this object gives it a very high decorative value, adaptable to any type of architecture. The colored glass of the granadine lamp is supported by metals such as brass, tin, nickel, silver or tinplate, although the latter is the most common and used material. Through techniques such as embossing, perforated and tiling, the glasses, specially cut and matched according to chromatic harmonies of all kinds, are assembled and welded.

This piece of furniture, which we generally find in its traditional style, easily adapts to even more contemporary designs. There are many clubs in the streets of the historic center that have opted for this type of lighting, increasing the warm and oriental atmosphere of Granada.

Treasures of Granada: La taracea: geometries and colors of Granada

To continue our journey through the traditions of craftsmanship that have made Granada one of the most artistically and culturally interesting cities in Spain, we would like to talk today about a particular woodworking technique, introduced in Spain by Muslims and that saw its first works in Cordoba, in the XII century: the Taracea. Through this process, also applicable on surfaces such as floors, walls and sculptures, it is used to artistically combine different types of wood, including precious ones, such as mahogany, ebony, cedar, walnut or orange, with small pieces of mother of pearl, ivory and metals, forming particular shapes and decorations of different geometric shapes.

The combination and inlay of these elements creates mosaics of colors also inspired by the ornamental motifs of the Alhambra. The technique of the wooden tarsea, despite being mostly carried out today with a simplified and mechanized process, still sees the commitment of craftsmen engaged in their workshops following the original procedure. The streets of the Alcaicera market and the Bazaar, which make up the ancient Arab and Jewish quarter of the Grenadine capital, is the best place to go in search of these exclusive ceramic pieces.

Treasures of Granada: The millennial tradition of the baskets

The millenary art of the baskets still lives today in Granada, testifying how our culture still breathes the culture of our past every day. These objects, in fact, are present today as in the most remote past in our homes, even if the use made of them remains varied: object of daily life before, decoration and sometimes companion of some walk in the countryside today. Although fewer and fewer artisans dedicate themselves to making baskets, also due to the scarce demand, these are still widespread today and courses can also be taken in the classroom to learn how to make them. Once used to collect fruit and vegetables, eggs or to go to the market, these objects are created through the interweaving of straw, wicker, rattan, and other natural spinning threads.

What many organizations hope is that we return to the old methods of going shopping, even to the use of these baskets. If it is true, in fact, that plastic is a very harmful material for the environment and that the government is taking steps to reduce its use in shops, replace it, returning to what tradition has taught us, it can only be an advantage. For tradition itself, for the undisputed value of this profession, for us and also for the health of the planet.

Treasures of Granada: The timeless ceramic of Granada

The ceramics that we can admire in many shops throughout Granada, is one of the liveliest and most appreciated traditions of our city today. The styles in the processing of this material are many, starting from the most characteristic, the Fajaluza, to the style of the "metallic reflection" to that of the "dry rope".

The objects that in the past were created with this material were linked to the traditional life of rural society, often taking their name from the city in which they were produced: this is how, for example, the amphorae of Alhama or the jars of Huéscar spread. With the industrialization of the work linked to the fields, in the second half of the twentieth century, new cheaper and more resistant materials were introduced for the production of these objects, and ceramics transformed their work, preferring the decorative sector.

The most common ceramics in Granada is certainly Fajaluza, whose name derives from the medieval city gate, which also gave its name to the potters' quarter, where this tradition was already flourishing in the 16th century.

Treasures of Granada: Granada carpets, a tradition in recovery

As part of the European project "Your Treasure - Our Treasure", we have the opportunity to collaborate with older people, often left behind in our busy societies, but possessing knowledge and experience that we should not give up. Thanks to this cultural background, we can go to rediscover the memory of the many treasures of our city, Granada, that characterize it, making it one of the precious jewels of our country. Crafts, in particular, is a very active sector in Andalusia, transmitted over the centuries and influenced by the many peoples who have shared their history in our territory. We are pleased, in this case, to emphasize one of the most precious artisan products and perhaps not so well known by foreign tourists, as well as by Spaniards from other areas: the weaving of carpets.

These types of rugs, generally called “Alpujarreñas”, were made for domestic use and were often included in wedding kits. Commercialization was not foreseen, but they are the result of the need to make the towns of Andalusia self-sufficient, often forced to isolate themselves. The colors were made with old fabrics, torn and inserted during work with the loom. The designs shown are of local and North African inspiration, made with weaving techniques, such as the native Alpujarra knot and the Turkish knot, or "ghiordés". This tradition, which lasted until the beginning of the 20th century, today sees a new renaissance, although there are few examples of the original rugs, which have been produced for domestic use and therefore are easily deteriorated.

In the streets of the city you can still find shops and workshops dedicated to this splendid tradition.