Chapter One: Court Arts of Islamic Spain


Panel. 10th–early 11th century. Spain, probably Córdoba

After reading this chapter, you will be able to:

  • identify how the court art of Islamic Spain reflects a convergence of cultures
  • understand the ways in which royal patronage of the arts reflected the visual identity and opulence of two dynasties in Islamic Spain

For eight centuries, between 711 and 1492, Southern Spain was part of the Muslim world.

In 750, the Umayyad dynasty in Syria fell to the Abbasids. The one surviving member, 'Abd al-Rahman I (reigned 756–88), escaped to Spain and established autonomous rule there.

A period of cultural, political, and artistic unity in North Africa and southern Spain is evident in the shared visual vocabulary of the architecture and decorative arts.


By the thirteenth century, only one Islamic kingdom remained in Spain, the Nasrids of Granada (1232–1492).

Read in-depth information about featured works of art related to this unit.

A list of resources for additional reading, with grade levels indicated

A list of sources used to compile the information in this unit

Unit Five: Chapter One Lesson Plan

Lesson Plan: Court Arts of Islamic Spain

Students will be able to identify shared visual characteristics among several works of art from Islamic Spain; recognize ways designs are adapted across a range of media; and cite strengths and limitations of various materials.

Textile fragment

The lesson plan related to Court Arts of Islamic Spain features a fourteenth-century silk textile fragment.