Nowadays, some historians named the time period from 300 CE to 1500 CE as Big Era 5. During this Big Era, different kinds of art and technics were used to create art pieces which thrived and played an important part of the society. They were traded as highly valuable commodities and also reflected the society of a civilization. One object called the Hispano Moresque ware, a type of pottery, represented the Islamic society and the cultures of BE 5. It showed us about the expansion of the Islamic empire, the Islamic cultures, and the cultural exchange in Mediterranean.
The Hispano-Moresque ware refers to the delicate earthenware made in areas of Spain, such as Málaga and Valencia, and the history of this kind of ceramic ware is related to the expansion of the Islamic caliphates. From my research, those colorful and glazed art pieces were created as a mixture of the Islamic technics and the European culture. They were prevalent at many Southern European areas, especially Spain which was conquered by the Moors, the nomadic people in Northern Africa. In BE 5, the Moors were turned into Muslims and accepted Islamic cultures and arts. Under the reign of the Moorish leader,Tarik ibn Ziyad, the Islamic Moors conquered modern Spain, Portuguese, and even parts of France.
After the successful invasion, the Umayyad dynasty was created at the city of Córdoba by another Moorish leader called Abd ar-Rahman I. The Islamic rulers created a lot of universities and brought many Islamic arts and architectures to Spain. Because of the strong cultural influences brought by the conquest, cities in Southern Spain, such as Toledo and Córdoba, became art and cultural centers of the Islamic caliphate. As a result, a new type of culture and art developed in those places and was expressed by the contemporary art works, especially the Hispano-Moresque wares.
In Spain, people discovered a lot of those lustered wares with traditional Islamic patterns, such as the tree of life, palm motifs, and Arabic writings, on them. The introduction of the Hispano-Moresque wares to Spain clearly showed us the expansion of the Islamic caliphate and the empire building process of the Muslims, because the Europeans in Spain used to be Christians who couldn't recognize those motifs. In fact, those Islamic wares not only evinced the empire building of the Muslims, but also showed us about their religion, Islam. For example, the Hispano-Moresque wares designed in Andalucian area were usually in colors like gold and blue. Those colors were used to represent sky and sun in Islam and could be found among other Islamic art pieces. As I mentioned, the Hispano-Moresque wares also usually had many writings in Arabic and religious figures, such as the tree of life and the palm motifs. They all have deep meaning in Islam and are symbols for virtues and wisdom. The geometrical shapes on the wares were also used to show the unlimited power of the Islamic God. Thus, from the design of the wares, we learned about the sophistication of Islam and the how people applied complicated religious concepts into their art works.
Another great impacts of the Hispano-Moresque wares is that they showed the cultural exchange in BE 5, because they inspired European potteries and influenced the art styles in Renaissance Italy. For example, in some Christian areas in Spain, the wares were designed based on the ideas of Christianity. We can find many familiar Christian figures, such as Jesus and Marry on some of those Hispano-Moresque wares manufactured based on Islamic technics. The combination of Islamic technologies and the Christian designs also showed the cultural diffusion in BE 5. After the Moors took control of Spain, Valencia became a major manufacturing center of Hispano-Moresque wares and mainly produced potteries for European market.
During Renaissance, merchants from Italian city states really appreciated the beauty of those wares, and the Hispano-Moresque wares became the major trading items of that time period. Because of the trading and communication between Italy and Spain, the technics to make potteries, such as firing and glazing, were also introduced to Italy as a result of a cultural exchange. The pigments of the Hispano-Moresque wares and the other materials used by Islamic artisans were also brought to Italy which was during the prosperous period of Renaissance. The constant communication and cultural diffusion eventually inspired the European artisans to create the Italian Majolicas which derived from the Hispano-Moresque wares. That is all because of the cultural exchange which helped the Italians to develop their own type of earthenwares that were painted with religious figures in Christianity.
From the history of the Hispano-Moresque wares, we learned about the growth of the Islamic Caliphates, the religious beliefs, and the cultural exchange during BE 5. Those Hispano-Moresque wares showed us about both the conflicts and the peaceful interactions with the Muslims and the Europeans. Those magnificent art works were also examples which show us how people express their religious identities through art. In sum, the Hispano-Moresque wares were absolutely fundamental during BE 5 in the Mediterranean region.