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After the Moors had conquered Spain, Christians known as "Mozarabs" were allowed to practice their religion under the predominantly tolerant rule of the new masters. They also built churches in Mozarabic style, characterised by the typical horseshoe arch. On the whole, however, Mozarabic influence on Spanish architecture was insignificant. The opposite is true of the Mudejar style, which influenced architecture world-wide.

Primarily designating Moors living in Spain under Christian domination after the reconquista, the word Mudejar is derived from the Arabic muddajan (i.e. those who are 'permitted' to stay), a deprecating term used by North-African Arabs for those moors who did not emigrate and thus suffered the highly intolerant Spanish yoke. Although converted by force to Catholicism, the many gifted albaniles (the Arabic-derived Spanish word for 'mason') now built churches and other buildings for their new masters, although using the artistic patterns and arabesques of mosques. This included muquarnas, the splendid honeycomb work decorating vaults in Granada's Alhambra and Sevilla's Alcazar. Another Mudejar speciality are the glazed tiles known in Spanish as azulejos (from Arabic az-zulaich), a decorative element characteristic of most Islamic architecture.

Paradoxically, the Spanish conquistadores--though conquering the Americas in the name of Christ--actually exported to these countries many elements of Mohammed's architecture and thus celebrating the glory of Allah. The city of Puebla in Mexico is known as the city of azulejos, and the nearby church of San Franciso Acatepec presents a sparkling facade resplendent in multicolored glazed tiles. The hispanic architecture of Latin America thus included many Moorish elements, and that's why movie moguls in California often used to reside in pompous Moorish palaces rivalling the fairy palaces of Thousand and One Nights.

Why should a film producer be called mogul? A magnificent emperor of the Mogul Dynasty ruling India from 1626 until the 19th century used to be idolised as the Great Mogul. The Islamic Moguls, as foreign invaders from Central Asia, purposely intended their splendid architecture to legitimise them in the eyes of the Indian peoples as rulers of Hindustan by the grace of God. The most famous Mogul masterpiece of architecture is the Taj Mahal. But the misnomer Mogul is derived from the Persian mugul, meaning "Mongol." Although the Moguls based their claim as rulers on their descent from Genghis Khan and Tamerlane, they were more Turkish than Mongolian when they invaded India. Later on, they became true Indians through intermarriage with local princes. It is therefore wrong to interpret the Moguls as Mongolians ruling India, since the true Mongolians never built anything remotely as splendid as the Taj Mahal but lived in modest yurts, decidedly not a place to live in for a movie mogul infatuated with the magnifice nce of the real moguls.
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Title Annotation:Moor architecture in Spain
Publication:Swiss News
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:4EUSP
Date:Oct 1, 2001

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