Qantara Qantara

The cuerda seca method

In the second half of the tenth century, in the context of the unprecedented development of the arts of al-Andalus that accompanied the birth and political victory of the caliphate of Cordoba, several polychrome techniques for decorating ceramics, imported from the East, were introduced into the Iberian Peninsula. Ceramics with glazed monochrome decoration were already being produced, albeit in small numbers, in the workshops of south-eastern al-Andalus during the emiral period; however, it was only around the mid-tenth century that the first polychrome glazed decorations, whose production then developed considerably, were thought to appear[1]. Some of the most remarkable of these decorations are those in “green and brown” applied to a white or honey-coloured ground, and the technique known as “partial cuerda seca[2].

The location of the first workshops producing this type of decoration demonstrates that it was the Mediterranean ports of al-Andalus, in constant touch with the Mediterranean shores of the Maghreb, and to a lesser extent with the ports of the Near East, that were the first to receive these new techniques. Almería, where there was a constant flow of goods and merchants from the Near and Middle East, stands out among these ports: it was through Almería that the materials, craftsmen and slaves destined in part to embellish the caliphal capital Cordoba[3] transited.

At the time of the boom in artisanal production from which the capital benefitted as a result of the demand created, first by the court, the great ports saw the development of most dynamic centres of production of ceramics with polychrome glazed decoration in al-Andalus[4]. The potters’ workshops excavated testify to the existence of production that was partly dedicated to exportation. It seems that the techniques used in these workshops were transmitted from the ports of the south-east to the Mediterranean ports of the coast of al-Andalus and that they had reached those of the Atlantic coast, such as Lisbon[5], during this period.

So, where did these techniques originate? Their importance was such that they came, according to certain researchers, to serve as the material support of the expression of the political victory of the caliphate of Cordoba[6].

All of these techniques were already used in the Middle East during the ninth century. In that region, there was a real profusion of glazed decoration techniques. In this context, marked by the emergence of the famous metallic lustre decorations and white and cobalt blue decorations, “green and brown” polychrome decoration was only one variant of a rich palette. As for “glazed decoration on an unglazed support”, particularly attested to in Raqqa, Samarra and Susa, there were several types that were sometimes associated with other techniques (incised decoration, black paint, etc.)[7]. It was this last type that corresponded to the technique known as partial cuerda seca transmitted to al-Andalus around the mid-tenth century[8]. In the Middle East, these decorative types were not fixed: the dynamism of the potters’ workshops gave rise to many techniques, which the potters strove to improve.

The stages of the transfer to al-Andalus of the glazed decoration techniques in “green and brown” and in partial cuerda seca are still unknown. What is certain is that these two techniques were present in several ports of the Syrian and Turkish region, such as Al-Mina and Antioch, in the first half of the tenth century[9]. The ports of the region were in contact with al-Andalus[10]. They were also attested in Ifriqiya (in present-day Tunisia) during the Aghlabid period (late ninth–early tenth century)[11].

If the transfers took place directly from the ports of the Near East serving the cities of the Euphrates, or if those of Ifriqiya had played the role of intermediary, it was the Mediterranean that, each time, served as the favoured channel of distribution and its ports as centres for the dissemination of techniques.

Once arrived in al-Andalus, the techniques for producing “green and brown” and partial cuerda seca glazed decorations – the result of over a century of innovation – were set. Other types of decoration in vogue in the Near and Middle East during the same period were not introduced into al-Andalus, perhaps because the potters who had emigrated there did not master them. This was thought to be the case with metallic lustre.

From the eleventh century, cuerda seca was once again the object of technical innovations that resulted in the creation, in al-Andalus, of a variant known as total cuerda seca in which the glazes covered the entire object[12]. New ornamental registers and new formal variants appeared on the cuerda seca produced in the eleventh, twelfth and thirteenth centuries. However, this technique remained reserved for the ornamentation of earthenware.

In parallel to the alterations in the urban fabric marked by the change in location of the political capitals of al-Andalus, the identity of the principal centres of production of these types of ceramics evolved[13]. From the tenth to the twelfth century, the potters’ workshops producing cuerda seca ceramics remained confined to al-Andalus. The sporadic importation of techniques into the Maghreb beginning in the second half of the twelfth century, although poorly attested archaeologically[14], has not been ruled out.

From the ports of al-Andalus, cuerda seca ceramics circulated: they were exported to the shores of the Mediterranean. In the late tenth century and early eleventh century, they reached the Maghreb ports, as well as the southern coast of present-day France[15]. They circulated in the geographical area with which al-Andalus maintained constant relations, marked by political rivalries, military confrontations and trade. During the same period, the structuring of the state navy and the political and economic takeover of the ports favoured the development of stable trade.

From the late eleventh century to the first third of the thirteenth century, with the integration of al-Andalus into a wider political and geographical space marked by the political domination of the Almoravids and Almohads of the Maghreb, the exportation of cuerda seca ceramics produced in al-Andalus covered a large geographical area stretching from the ports of the Catalan region, such as Port-Vendres, to Alexandria, Istanbul, via Italian ports such as Genoa and Pisa, and the great ports of the Maghreb[16]. During the same period, the remarkable dynamism of the fleets of al-Andalus and the Maghreb, Christian fleets – Italian and Catalan in particular – took part in the quantitative “speeding up” of the exchanges between the western and eastern Mediterranean. Cuerda seca ceramics were only some of the many goods circulating at the time.

The presence – not sporadic but in considerable quantity – of products from al-Andalus in the Christian kingdoms, in the Iberian Peninsula as well as in “France” and “Italy”, was characteristic of this period. The use and value of these goods in Christian territories is a key object of study in terms of understanding how the two cultures were brought together[17]. Most of the products of al-Andalus attested in these territories were put to uses that differed from those for which they had been conceived in al-Andalus[18]. Such was the case with the fabrics used to line reliquaries and funerary stelae serving as facings on the walls of religious edifices[19]. As for cuerda seca ceramics, they were used as bacini to adorn the facades of Italian churches, together with other decorative types (metallic lustre, green and brown decoration, etc.)[20]. Cuerda seca ablution vases imported into Christian territories, whose use is unknown in this new cultural context, seemed to be rarer[21].

Despite the abundance of goods produced in al-Andalus and the Islamic world discovered in Christian territories, it is still unknown what value their inhabitants attached to these various pieces and their decoration. Some of them were undoubtedly used as status symbols[22].

Although cuerda seca ceramics were imported into Christian territories, the technique was not established there, although there were transfers of techniques concerning other decorative  types, such as “green and brown”, via the settling of potters who were the depositaries of the traditions of al-Andalus in some of the most active western Mediterranean ports in the thirteenth century[23].

From the thirteen century, there were changes in the production of cuerda seca in al-Andalus: technical changes marked by the simplification of the manufacturing processes and changes in the types of supports, with architectural elements playing an increasing role; these included tombstones and wall tiles, the most famous examples of which decorate the Puerta del Vino of the Alhambra of Nasrid Granada attributed to Muhammad V (second half of the fourteenth century)[24].

Al-Andalus then shrank under the military pressure of the Christian kingdoms of the Iberian Peninsula. In Seville, conquered by the Christians in 1248, as in other cities of the former al-Andalus, the technical continuity of ceramics throughout the thirteenth century may be archaeologically certified[25]. In several cities, the preservation of part of the Muslim population enabled the continuity and transmission of the techniques of al-Andalus. At the same time, the emigration to North Africa of part of this population, which probably began with the attacks on the powerful ports of al-Andalus in the mid-twelfth century, then as a result of the Christian military pressure and, later, of the expulsion of the “Moriscos” from the Christian kingdoms, was probably the catalyst for the spreading of the technique to the Maghreb[26].

On the other side of the Mediterranean, an unprecedented flourishing of the cuerda seca technique in architecture took place in Timurid Iran from the late fourteenth century[27], then in Turkey[28] and India[29]. This type of decoration was also attested in Ifriqiya in the fifteenth century[30].

After having remained set for many centuries, the cuerda seca technique then underwent major changes, giving rise to new decorative types that were so many new technical solutions enabling glazed decoration with perfectly distinct motifs, which did not blend together during the firing, to be obtained. Thus was born, in the western Mediterranean – in Christian Spain – the decorative technique known as cuenca y arista in which the tiles are moulded, the ridges of the moulding serving to delimit the glazed areas in the hollows[31], and, in the eastern Mediterranean, the technique known as “black-line decoration”[32], characterised by the presence of unglazed painted lines encircling glazed motifs. In this last example, the difference from the cuerda seca technique lies in the presence of an underlying glaze on the entire surface of the piece. Note that the change in the composition of the glazes and in firing techniques meant that the delimitation of the glazed motifs with a painted line whose greasy binder prevented the glazes from mixing together was no longer necessary[33]. Certain glazes had remarkable staying power during firing and did not melt, leaving motifs that were as distinct after firing as they were before it.

In the early twentieth century, the European “rediscovery” of the cuerda seca decorative technique took place. It was initially an artistic and artisanal “rediscovery”. In 1864 the Parisian earthenware maker Eugène Collinot registered a patent for decorations for ceramics whose technique was inspired by cuerda seca as it was used in al-Andalus and then in the Christian kingdoms[34]. Collinot collaborated with Adalbert de Beaumont in the writing of a book on the systematisation of the Islamic ornaments, Le Recueil de dessins pour l’art et l’industrie (1859), which served as the basis for a dynamic company whose aim was to breathe new life into European decorative arts through inspiration by “oriental” arts. They set up a pottery works together. In 1873 the patent was adopted by the French workshops of Longwy.

In the same way that the motifs of the cuerda seca ceramics of Christian Spain bear witness to the integration of techniques from the Islamic world into a new culture, marked by both the Islamic ornamental tradition and its own cultural reference points (Christianity and royalty[35]), the ceramics produced in France from the last third of the nineteenth century using the process patented by Collinot were decorated with motifs illustrating the various sources of inspiration of the revival in European industrial arts. This is how a process derived from the cuerda seca technique, with its origins in Islamic art, was used to produce motifs in the Japanese-inspired, Persian, Chinese and Art Deco styles.

During the twentieth century, the industrialisation of production was once again behind the technical innovations: decorations that used to be applied by hand were applied by machine[36]. There was thus a move away – in the execution of the decorations, as well as in the composition of the glazes and the carrying out of the firing – from the techniques developed in al-Andalus. The Longwy workshops, moreover, developed a new technique known as “enamelling on glaze”, in which unglazed black lies were applied to a glazed surface. This process was comparable to the “black-line decoration” used in the Near and Middle East.

The path taken by the decorative technique used in cuerda seca ceramics, from East to West, was by and large comparable to that taken by metallic lustre, the jewel of Islamic art transmitted to Christian Spain, then a craze and the object of technical research during the revival of European decorative arts in the second half of the nineteenth century and the early twentieth century.

At the same time as the “rediscovery” of the cuerda seca technique taking place in France, Spain assessed its rich decorative tradition: it was on the basis of cuerda seca wall facings produced during the period of the Christian kingdoms that the technique was first identified[37]. The scholars of the early twentieth century sensed – without being able to prove it – that this type of decoration was a legacy of the art of al-Andalus, which the first excavations carried out in the City of the Caliphs in Cordoba soon confirmed[38]. Since then, various archaeological excavations have brought to light examples of partial and total cuerda seca. The first attempts at dating the adoption of polychrome glazed decorative techniques in al-Andalus then saw the light of day. The question of their geographical origin was posed[39].

The artisanal production of cuerda seca ceramics had, moreover, begun again in Spain but its quality suffered as a result of the breaking of the technological link with al-Andalus and classical Spain.

It was only with the gathering pace of archaeological excavations carried out in democratic Spain beginning in the 1980s that the amount of material available enabled the evolution of this decorative type to be better understood. The time of syntheses had thus come. The remarks of the pioneers of the study of the material culture of al-Andalus regarding the similarity between the cuerda seca technique developed in this area and that implemented in the Middle East from the ninth century was then confirmed[40]. Attention was once again focussed on the Eastern source of this technique, a jewel of the ceramic arts of the West born on the other side of the Mediterranean.


[1] See, for example, S. Gutiérrez Lloret, La Cora de Tudmîr d la Antigüedad tardía al mundo islámico. Poblamiento y cultura material (Madrid: Casa de Velázquez, 1996); M. C. Íñiguez Sánchez and J. F. Mayorga Mayorga, “Un alfar emiral en Málaga”, and F. Castilllo Galdeano and R. Martínez Madrid, “Producciones cerámicas en Baŷŷāna”, in A. Malpica Cuello, ed., La cerámica altomedieval en el Sur de Al-Andalus (Granada: Universidad de Granada, 1993); M. Acién Almansa, “Hornos alfareros de época califal en el yacimiento de Bezmiliana”, in Fours de potiers et “testares” médiévaux en méditerranée occidentale (Madrid: Casa de Velázquez, 1990); M. Domínguez Bedmar, M. M. Muñoz Martín and J. M. Ramoz Díaz, “Madinat al-Mariyya, estudio preliminar de las cerámicas aparecidas en sus atarazanas”, in Segundo Congreso de Arqueología medieval española, vol. II. (Madrid: Consejería de cultura y deportes de la Comunidad de Madrid, 1987).

[2] The term “cuerda seca” is from a passage from the Libro de Cargo y data of Seville Cathedral dating from 1558. The text details the payments for different types of tiles commissioned from a potter and intended to pave the floor of the librería of Seville Cathedral. See J. Gestoso Pérez, Ensayo de un diccionario de los artífices que florecieron en Sevilla desde el siglo XIII al XVIII (Seville: La Andalucía moderna, 1899), 77; J. Gestoso Pérez, Historia de los barros vidriados sevillanos (Seville: La Andalucía moderna, 1903), 55, 400; C. Déléry, Dynamiques économiques, sociales et culturelles d’al-Andalus à partir d’une étude de la céramique de cuerda seca seconde moitié du Xe siècle-première moitié du XIIIe siècle (PhD thesis, Université de Toulouse II, 2006), 28–30. The cuerda seca technique was characterised by glazed motifs directly applied to the clay mould and surrounded with an unglazed painted line. The “partial” variant differs from the “total” in that it does not cover the entire surface of the object.

[3] On this theme, see, for example, J. Lirola Delgado, El poder naval de al-Andalus en la época del Califato omeya (Granada, 1993).

[4] See C. Cano Piedra, La cerámica hispanomusulmana decorada con cobre y manganeso sobre cubierta blanca (PhD thesis, Universidad de Granada, 1992); C. Déléry, Dynamiques économiques, sociales et culturelles d’al-Andalus, chapter 5; M. C. Íñiguez Sánchez and J. F. Mayorga Mayorga, “Un alfar emiral en Málaga”; F. Castilllo Galdeano and R. Martínez Madrid, “Producciones cerámicas en Baŷŷāna”; M. Acién Almansa, “Hornos alfareros de época califal en el yacimiento de Bezmiliana”; M. Cantero Sosa and J. J. Egea González, “Aportación al estudio de la producción local de cerámica califal en Almería: el testar de la Calle Marín”, in IV Congreso de Arqueología medieval española, vol. III. (Alicante: Diputación provincial de Alicante, 1993); M. A. Tabales Rodríguez, “Primera fase de excavaciones en el patio de las Doncellas del palacio de Pedro I. Alcázar de Sevilla”, in Anuario Arqueológico de Andalucía 2002, vol. II (Seville: Junta de Andalucía, Consejería de Cultura, 2005).

[5] J. Bugalhão, A. S. Gomes and M. J. Sousa, “Vestígios de produção oleira islâmica no núcleo arqueológico da rua dos Correeiros, Lisboa”, Arqueologia Medieval 8 (2003); J. Bugalhão and S. Gómez Martínez, “Lisboa, uma cidade do Mediterrâneo islâmico”, in Muçulmanos e Cristãos entre o Tejo e o Douro Sécs. VIII a XII (Palmela: Camâra municipal de Palmela, 2005); J. Bugalhão et al., “La production céramique islamique à Lisbonne: conclusions d’un projet d’investigation”, in VIII Congreso internacional de cerámica medieval en el Mediterraneo (Ciudad Real-Almagro, forthcoming).

[6] See, in particular, Barceló M., “Al-Mulk, el verde y el blanco. La vajilla califal omeya de Madînat al Zahrā’”, in A. Malpica Cuello, ed., La cerámica altomedieval en el Sur de Al-Andalus (Granada: Universidad de Granada, 1993).

[7] O. Watson, “Report on the glazed ceramics”, in Ar-Raqqa I. Die Frühislamische Keramik von Tall Aswad (Mainz: Verlag Philipp von Zabern, 1999); M. Rosen-Ayalon, La poterie islamique. Mémoires de la Délégation archéologique en Iran, vol. L. (Paris: Librairie P. Geuthner, 1974); M. Kervran, “Les niveaux islamiques du secteur oriental du tépé de l’Apadana. II. Le matériel céramique”, Cahiers de la Délégation archéologique française en Iran 7 (1977); M. Kervran, “Recherches sur les niveaux islamiques de la ville des artisans, Suse 1976-1978. Le matériel archéologique”, Cahiers de la Délégation archéologique française en Iran 14 (1984); F. Sarre, Die Keramik von Samarra (Berlin: Ernst Vohsen, 1925); C. Déléry, Dynamiques économiques, sociales et culturelles d’al-Andalus, chapter 4.

[8] In any case, it seems that the potter had wanted to obtain a sharp decoration thanks to the use of a long-lasting glaze during the firing or via the intermediary of a painted outline containing glaze. This recessed outline – unglazed – corresponded to the Spanish term cuerda seca. The outline, made up of manganese and a greasy binder, separated the glazing mixtures suspended in the water, but the durability of the decoration was determined by the behaviour of the glazes during the firing, which was a function of their composition and of the firing parameters. On this last point, see C. Déléry, Dynamiques économiques, sociales et culturelles d’al-Andalus, chapter 3.

[9] C. Déléry, Dynamiques économiques, sociales et culturelles d’al-Andalus, chapter 4; F. O. Waagé, Antioch on the Orontes IV, Part One: Ceramics and Islamic Coins (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1948); A. Lane, “Medieval finds at al-Mina in North Syria”, Archaeologia 87 (1938).

[10] J. Lirola Delgado, El poder naval de al-Andalus en la época del Califato omeya, 223 and n. 205.

[11]See, for example, A. Ben Amara, Céramiques glaçurées de l’espace méditerranéen IXe-XVIIe siècles ap. J.C., matériaux, techniques et alteration (PhD thesis, Université de Bordeaux III, 2002); G. Marçais, Les faïences à reflets métalliques de la grande mosquée de Kairouan (Paris: Librairie P. Geuthner, 1928), 36, fig. 15a; S. Gragueb Chatti, Recherches sur la céramique islamique de deux cités princières en Tunisie : Raqqada et Sabra al-Mansouriyya (PhD thesis, Université Aix-Marseille I, 2006). See also C. Déléry, Dynamiques économiques, sociales et culturelles d’al-Andalus, chapter 4 and 753–55.

[12]The data uncovered by archaeological excavations do not yet allow the appearance of this technique to be dated; what is certain is that it was absent from several stratigraphic contexts clearly associated to the era of the Umayyad Caliphate of Cordoba. See C. Déléry, Dynamiques économiques, sociales et culturelles d’al-Andalus, chapter 6.

[13]C. Déléry, Dynamiques économiques, sociales et culturelles d’al-Andalus, chapters 5–8.

[14]One thinks of, in particular, of the pieces discovered in Tlemcen, the origin of whose material researchers have not yet been able to locate. See A. Bel, Un atelier de poteries et de faïences au Xe S de J.C découvert à Tlemcén. Contribution à l’étude de la céramique musulmane II (Constantine: D. Braham, 1914).

[15]In the Maghreb, particularly in Ceuta – see E. Fernández Sotelo, Ceuta medieval. Aportación al estudio de las cerámicas S.X-XV, 3 vols. (Ceuta: Museo municipal de Ceuta, 1988); E. Fernández Sotelo, Los silos en la Arqueología ceutí I (Ceuta: Instituto de estudios ceutíes, 2001) – and in Nekor – see M. Acién Almansa et al., “La cerámica a mano de Nakūr Siglos IX-X. Producción beréber medieval”, Arqueología y territorio medieva 6 (1999); M. Acién Almansa et al., “Les céramiques tournées de Nakūr IXe/Xe Siècles”, VIIe Congrès international sur la céramique médiévale en Méditerranée (Athens, 2003). In the South of France, in Psalmodi (Saint Laurent d’Aigouze), excavations whose finding are partially unpublished led by Brooks Stoddard-University of Maine Augusta; see H. Amouric, G. Demians d’Archimbaud and L. Vallauri, “De Marseille au Languedoc et au Comtat Venaissin : les chemins du vert et du brun”, in Le Vert et le Brun de Kairouan à Avignon (Paris: Réunion des musées nationaux, 1995).

[16]C. Déléry, Dynamiques économiques, sociales et culturelles d’al-Andalus, chapters 7–8. For Port-Vendres, see, for example, A. Ben Amara et al., “Interprétation du changement de couleur de glaçures de céramiques à décor de cuerda seca XIe/XIIe S. ayant séjourné en milieu marin”, in 16ème Colloque du Groupe des méthodes pluridisciplinaires contribuant à l’Archéologie (Saclay, 2005). The pieces from Alexandria had been discovered during excavations codirected by Lucy Vallauri (LAMM, Aix-en-Provence); the material is conserved in the Centre for Alexandrian Studies under the responsibility of Marie Jacquemin. A piece found in Istanbul is in the Department of Islamic Art at the Louvre (inventory number OA 7909); see Byzance. L’art byzantin dans les collections publiques françaises (Paris: Réunion des musées nationaux, 1992), 387, no. 295. Regarding the pieces from Genoa, see P. Melli and F. Benente, “Nuovi dati sulla circolazione della ceramica d’importazione islamica e bizantina a Genova. Il contesto di S. Maria delle Grazie la Nuova”, in Atti IV Congresso di Archeologia medievale (Florence: Società degli archeologi medievisti italiani, 2006); D. Cabona, A. Gardini and O. Pizzolo, “Nuovi dati sulla circolazione delle ceramiche mediterranee dallo scavo di Palazzo Ducale a Genova secc. XII-XIV”, in La ceramica medievale nel mediterraneo occidentale (Florence: All’Insegna Del Giglio, 1986); T. Mannoni, “La ceramica medievale a Genova e nella Liguria”, Studi Genuensi VII (1968–69). For Pisa, see, for example, G. Berti and L. Tongiorgi, “I bacini ceramici medievali delle chiese di Pisa”, Cuaderni di cultura materiale 3 (1981); G. Berti and T. Mannoni, “La ceramiche a ‘cuerda seca’ utilizzate como Bacini in Toscana ed in Corsica”, in La céramique médiévale en Méditerranée occidentale (Rabat, 1991). The great ports of the Maghreb include Ceuta and Salé; see, for example, A. Delpy, “Note sur quelques vestiges de céramique recueillis à Salé”, Hespéris 42 (1955); P. Ricard and A. Delpy, “Note sur la découverte de spécimens de céramique marocaine du Moyen Age”, Hespéris 13 (1931); E. Fernández Sotelo, Ceuta medieval. Aportación al estudio de las cerámicas S. X-XV (Ceuta: Museo municipal de Ceuta, 1988).

[17] See, for example, D. H. Brown, “The social significance of imported medieval pottery”, in Not So Much a Pot, More a Way of Life: Current Approaches to Artefact Analysis in Archaeology (Oxford: Oxbow, 1997).

[18]It is thought, however, that certain pieces had been specially produced for export to Christian territories (fabrics, ceramics). See, for example, Al-Andalus: The Art of Islamic Spain, exh. cat. (Granada: Alhambra, 1992; New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1992), 336, no. 98.

[19] For example, the piece (inv. 749) in the Real Academia de Historia de Madrid (discussed in C. Partearroyo Lacaba, “Veil of Hisham II”, in Al-Andalus: The Art of Islamic Spain, 225–26. Regarding funerary stelae, see Catalunya romànica, vol. XIV (Barcelona: Enciclopèdia catalana, 1993), 355–56 and 432.

[20] G. Berti and L. Tongiorgi, “I bacini ceramici medievali delle chiese di Pisa”, Cuaderni di cultura materiale 3 (1981).

[21] This is the case for some of the pieces discovered in Port-Vendres.

[22] Brown, D. H., “The social significance of imported medieval pottery”.

[23]This was the case, for example, in Marseille. See M. Marchesi, J. Thiriot and L. Vallauri, eds., Marseille, les ateliers de potiers du XIIIe S et le quartier Sainte Barbe Ve/XVIIe S (Paris: Maison des Sciences de l’Homme, 1997).

[24] I. Salameh, “Estudio de los elementos decorativos de la Puerta del Vino de la Alhambra de Granada”, Arqueología y territorio medieval 5 (1998); J. Zozaya, “Alicatos y azulejos hispanomusulmanes: los orígines”, in La céramique médiévale en méditerranée (Aix-en-Provence: Narration, 1997).

[25] This may be seen, for example, in the workshops of Triana. See M. Vera Reina and P. López Torres, “Triana en la Edad Media siglos XII-XIV. La producción alfarera”, in British Archaeological Reports (Oxford, forthcoming).

[26] Recent discoveries on the site of Aghmat in Morocco enabled local production of ceramics with cuerda seca decoration in the fourteenth century to be considered (excavations taking placed under the supervision of Ronald Messier and Abdallah Fili).

[27] V. Porter, Islamic Tiles (London: British Museum Press, 1995), 19, fig. 6; 62–69. The technique continued in Iran for many centuries, cf. 75–81.

[28] V. Porter, Islamic Tiles, 20, 96, 99ff. Certain researchers put forward that the technique was imported into Turkey by potters from Iran. The conditions of the blossoming of the technique in Ifriqiya and the Middle East are not, however, well understood.

[29] See Y. Porter, “Décors émaillés dans l’architecture de pierre de l’Inde centrale. Les monuments islamiques de Mandu 15e-16e siècle”, Archéologie islamique 7 (1997). See also V. Porter, Islamic Tiles, 87–88.

[30] Wall tiles with cuerda seca decoration attributed in the fifteenth century are visible in the Sidi Qasim al-Zelliji Zawiya. More extensive research remains to be carried out better to understand the conditions of the development of this technique in the Maghreb and Ifriqiya.

[31]See, for example, G. Degeorge and Y. Porter, L’art de la céramique dans l’architecture musulmane (Paris: Flammarion, 2001), 22, 64–65.

[32]See, for example, G. Degeorge and Y. Porter, L’art de la céramique dans l’architecture musulmane, 24, 142–43; Istanbul, Isfahan, Delhi: Three Capitals of Islamic Art, exh. cat. (Istanbul: Sakip Sabanci Museum, 2008), 248–250, nos. 119 and 120. Certain decorations were sometimes wrongly called cuerda seca whereas they were executed using the black-line technique. The date and the conditions of the passage of one to another are still unknown, as are the regions and the periods in which the two techniques coexisted.

[33] C. Déléry, Dynamiques économiques, sociales et culturelles d’al-Andalus, chapter 3. Unpublished analyses of the cuerda seca tiles of Yeshil Turbe (Bursa, Turkey) and Spain have, moreover, been carried out by the Research Laboratory for Archaeology and the History of Art, University of Oxford.

[34] J. Peiffer, Longwy, faïences et émaux, 1798-1998 (Metz: Serpenoise, 1998), 100–02.

[35] See, for example, B. Martínez Caviro, Catálogo de cerámica española (Madrid: Ibero-americanas, 1968).

[36] J. Peiffer, Longwy, faïences et émaux, 1798-1998, 101–04.

[37] J. Gestoso y Pérez, Ensayo de un diccionario de los artífices que florecieron en Sevilla desde el siglo XIII al XVIII.

[38] R. Velázquez Bosco, Medina Azzahra y Alamiriya (Madrid: Junta para Ampliación de Estudios e Investigaciones Científicas, 1912).

[39] See, for example, J. Zozaya, “Essai de chronologie pour certains types de céramique califale andalouse” and “Aperçu général sur la céramique espagnole” in La céramique médievale en méditerranée occidentale, X-XVe siècles (Paris: CNRS, 1980).

[40] C. Déléry and S. Gómez Martínez, “Algunas piezas orientales y el problema del origen de la técnica de cuerda seca”, in Al-Ândalus, espaço de mudança (Mértola: Campo Arqueológico de Mértola, 2006).