Muslim music

Ungüentario andalusí Pulse para ampliar Ungüentario andalusí. Sala 23, vitrina 23.16

Unguent jar. Al-Andalus

This glass paste unguent jar with a gilded neck is a luxury item, dating back to the first centuries of Islam, and may have originated from Egypt. It most likely arrived in Al-Andalus through the import trade. This item was used within a courtly setting as a woman´s personal ornament. Sophisticated Muslim culture, naturally, did not disregard music, which on occasion, was associated with women. In fact, a good number of images depict women playing the oud (that is, the lute), which played a fundamental role in Christian Europe. There are documents that allow us to reconstruct the evolution of this instrument, in which a multifaceted figure from the eastern Mediterranean would play a key role. Ziryab, raised in Bagdad and a connoisseur of fashion, customs, and refined tastes, settled down in 9th century Umayyad Cordoba and laid the foundation for the teaching of music in Al-Andalus. Moreover, according to the legend, he added a fifth string to this instrument. He thus transferred eastern musical expertise to Al-Andalus.

Understanding ancient Muslim music is made difficult by its essentially oral, unwritten nature, which was based on traditional improvised methods. It is organized in a completely different manner from western music; nevertheless it left a lasting impression on those places where both cultures lived alongside one another.