Mason marks of the Mosque of Cordoba

Las marcas de cantero de la Mezquita de Córdoba

My fascination with the Mosque of Córdoba dates back to distant date, counting four or five years, first introduced me inside. Since then, and especially since I enjoyed autonomy that I visited on numerous occasions despite him away from my home. Several were my favorite parts of the monument, in my imagination flew past times when this city was the capital of an empire and the place your heart. But none like the corner of captive. At each visit, and in my case were many, a secret and irresistible force impelled me to visit that increasingly dark corner. There, embelesado, staring through the carcelilla that kept deep scratches marked on the black marble column and formed about a crucifix and just really see the prisoner by the evil Moors kept chained to that column long enough, and it must have been much, so that I could record it with her nails. I thought so ragged and shaggy, curiously similar to Ben Gun Treasure Island, another of my childhood fascinations, embraced with arms permanently to column, face against the cold marble and hands employed on the opposite side and blind in their erosive work day and night, secret challenge to the contempt of the Muslim faithful who passed by her side.

Until many years later, when my mere fascination with the Andalusian Arabs led to a more or less serious desire to study, I did not realize that the story could not be anything but a legend and the crucifix engraved one of the many Catholic superstition to extend mixtificaciones.

Contrary to a widely held view some exceptions mosques throughout the Islamic world are open to visiting unbelievers, as it corresponds to su effort (jihad) proselytizing. Exceptions, apart from the orbit of the Wahhabi strictness, focus on the big cities of the Maghreb, fruit and are more of a historical need to defend abuses by settlers and occupation forces in colonial times, que obligaron a una prohibición, subsequently maintained after independence, canonical prescription to any. But the possibility that some of them would have made the functions of imprisonment or torture instead of being active at some point in history are virtually nil (1).

That same question struck me when it was installed in the early 90 the small museum inside the Mosque and exposed the collection of brands, mainly names, clay emptied, prints found in the shafts of the columns and the impost of the oratorio. The legend that explains the lower edge of the display case reads:


My charged, almost paranoid substantiated by, sensitivity reaction to interested fallacies that the Catholic Church is employed for years in their eagerness desislamizar as possible the monument, I make my guard consistently to all interpretive information that comes from the Cabildo. But though I never had trouble at first to admit that Christian workers may have worked in the construction of certain parts of the Mosque, not yet enshrined, more than acceptable given the level of integration that Christians and Jews- seems to be reached at the apogee of Andalusian Caliphate, I was never able to figure out which of those names stonemasons who could read the clay tablets were those Christians who referred the explanatory text.. Most certainly not admit: my notions of Arabic were sufficiently complete to let me know they were Muslims name, but many others could not locate them in onomastics I know. Tampoco I worry about comprobarlos in the dictionaries directly asking friends Arabists the Arabs. So the question, although reasonable, he was always overshadowed by my research limitation.

So I received with extraordinary joy an article that Professor Juan Antonio Souto just published in the journal Al-Qantara (AL-QANTARA XXXI 1, January to June 2010 pp. 31-75 ISSN 0211-3589) in depth research posed with the same subject.

Juan A. Souto is a professor at the Complutense of Madrid and specialist in Islam Story. From what I understand is a reputed Arabic epigrafista that has been developing over the years a deep study of the Mosque of Cordoba . So recently surprised us with a little work on the same (The mosque Mosque of Cordoba edited by the Institute of Islamic Studies and the Middle East) which despite their clearly informative purposes and extreme concision points really interesting questions about the nature and history of the monument. Souto's originality lies in, against most especially the literature published in the city, Cordovan defends familiarity with the oratorio tradition that really belongs: Islamic architecture, concerning the placing of the dynasty to which belonged the builders: Umayyad and affecting symbolic dependence with respect to the Andalusian Mosque was state emblem and soul.

In work published in Al-Qantara and entitled Documents? Christian workers in the Great Mosque of Cordoba?, Professor Souto carefully dismantles the argument supports on which the Arabist and archaeologist Manuel Ocaña, based on an inspiration of George Colin, He based his theory that some of the names of masons collected by him in the years 30 transcripts belonged to the Arab Christian names. Specifically Mubarak, Mas’ud and Nasr, whenever it is relevant to semantic Benedict, Felix and Victor . To this was added the fact that some of them appear sometimes accompanied by certain symbols that was resting in the Christian tradition semiotic: the anchor, the T (primitive cross), the barca, the mustard seed and other. This intended to indicate that these were sealed messages secretly alluded to the condition of Christian believers of operators.

Professor Souto begins by explaining that the latest trends in modern gliptografía tend to view stonemason marks found in many ancient monuments (2) have a purely utilitarian sense out of any possible esoteric interpretation. It would only firms whose B workpieces address the need of individual or collective labeling (workshop, family, etc.) su to the collection as imposing assumption Responsibility.

According Souto signs (above 700) Stones found in the Mosque match the same causality and the possibility of responding to, or should admixtures, any other should be clearly demonstrated, Ocaña thing is far from done.

There are three tests infundabilidad attribution of meaning to some of the Christian names and signs displayed Ocaña.

The first deep inconsistency they could slip away, however cryptically that had been prepared, symbols of faith enemy builders building responding precisely and especially if Almanzor, a spirit of jihad against the same faith.

The second the fact that although the three names indicating (Mubarak, Mas’ud y Nasr) relevant synonyms are so many other Christians (Benedict, Felix and Victor), are likewise onomastic. That is both a faith and other names are commonly the same.

The third arbitrariness with which the incomprehensible Ocaña, a rigorous researcher otherwise, Christian symbolism attributed to signs of dubious semiotics assignment (3). The putative TAU, often lying, anchor, the alleged boat that looks more like a drawn bow with an arrow, different stars or fitomorfos are signs that hardly can be assigned a unique significance, as Professor Souto shows an admirable display of erudition symbolic. So as I've tried to do modestly condensadísimo is a summary of the article strongly recommend reading his complete both the amount of data it provides and for the enjoyment of the research method that provides.

Therefore consider, revealed as teacher Souto, an informative recklessness, if not presumptuous interested, which give for granted certain theories without the slightest scientific basis museizadas informative explanations and pieces that seem to point to the continuing trend of historiography brought by employees of the Cabildo of pulling the coal Catholic sardine always detrimental to the Islamic.

(1) Un amigo experto islamólogo me ha hecho rehacer totalmente este párrafo y cambiar su sentido. Thank you for providing me information first about the meaning of mosques and forced me to change perspective.

(2) Recently my friend Paco Muñoz samples collected graphic medieval stonemason marks recorded on the stones of the medieval bridge called The Piconeros located on the outskirts of Córdoba and hung in his magnificent page: NOTES CORDOBESAS.

(3) The same person who has advised me on the meaning of the mosques I pointed out the possibility that the whole issue would have been the result of the sense of humor of Don Manuel Ocaña, a joke that eventually became academic subject.

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  1. Sailing the he found, and I find very interesting this blog. I'm so glad this reference to the work of Juan Antonio Souto, of which I am a good friend and colleague. I am dedicated to the study of historical graffiti and we've known for quite some years always sharing, pleasant moments of leisure and work,clear.

    Good, the dejo mi blog for you the interesa. In it you will find all my works on historical graffiti (the latest published on Madinat al-Zahra) and everything related to the world of historical graffiti:

    A greeting.

  2. Hello, i found your article very interesting and I would like to know if you have a clear traduction of the name grave on the column ? Also I don’t really get with names, if you could explain it to me.
    Thanks in advance.

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