Architecture and Poetry in Muslim Spain

Here are some notes on sources for talks on the architecture and poetry of Muslim Spain, given at the Great Mother Conference in May 2002.

Audio CDs
Poemas de la Alhambra. Eduardo Paniagua and El Arabi Serghini. Pneuma PN-230. Released in 2000 by Pneuma, Almanzora 49, 28023 Madrid, Spain.  Distributed by Karonte, Alfonso XIII 141, 28016 Madrid, Spain; telephone 34-91-3458626, fax 34-91-3503358; email: This album contains the poems of Ibn Zamrak (1333-1393), vizier of Granada, including the verses inscribed on the 12-sided fountain in Alhambra (Nos. 6, 7, 11), accompanied by the actual sound of the fountains. The musicians, from Spain and Morocco, perform in the Andalusian Arabic style. The booklet contains introductory notes and comments on the poems in both Spanish and English, with the printed Arabic text of the poems accompanied by the Spanish translation of Emilio Garcia Gomez. English translations of some of these poems may be found in Oleg Grabar, The Alhambra (Harvard University Press, 1978): No. 6 on page 124, No. 7 on page 124, No. 11 on pages 124-5, No. 13 on pages 144-6, and No. 17 on pages 126-7. The Spanish translations are much better, however, and the English translations are in serious need of improvement.
Pneuma online catalog with links to US distributor

Ritual Sufi-Andalusi: al-Shushtari (1212-1269). Omar Metioui and Mohamed Mehdi Temsamani. Sony Classical SK 62999, Hispanica series, 1997. Distributed by Sony Music Entertainment (Spain).This contains 35 selections, primarily from the poetry of al-Shushtari, an Andalusian Sufi disciple of the great philosopher Ibn Sab`in, in a nonclassical dialectal form of Arabic; the accompanying booklet contains the Arabic text handwritten in a Maghribi hand together with Spanish translations by Federico Corriente and Pablo Beneito, plus extensive notes in Spanish on the poet, Islamic music, and Sufi practice.  The recitation of these verses, which are still sung by the Sufi brotherhoods of North Africa, includes the call to prayer (No. 1) in a remarkable choral intertwining of voices, plus three passages from the Qur'an (Nos. 2-3, 35).  The recording  in the Andalusian style was made by Moroccan musicians under the direction of a Sufi shaykh.
Ordering link from Gong discos

De lo Humano y lo Divino: Poemas de Ibn al-'Arabi adaptados a cante flamenco. Curro Piñana. RTVE 62056. Released in 1998 by Radiotelevisión Española, Prado del Rey, 28223 Madrid, Spain.  This album has translations of nine poems from the Tarjuman al-ashwaq (Interpreter of Longings) by the great Andalusian Sufi Master Ibn al-`Arabi (d. 1240), sung by an outstanding flamenco performer. The Spanish version is by Antonio Parra, based on the translations of Vicente Cantarino (Qasidas de amor, profano y mistico: Ibn Zaidun, Ibn Arabi [1977]) and Mohamed Reda.
For new English translations, see Stations of Desire: Love Elegies From Ibn 'Arabi and New Poems, translated by Michael A. Sells (Ibis Editions, 2000). These are far superior to the Victorian translations found in The Tarjuman Al-Ashwaq: A Collection of Mystical Odes, translated by R. A. Nicholson (reprinted by Theosophical Publishing House, 1978), but that edition does offer a parallel Arabic text.
Ordering link from FlamencoWorld

Books on Architecture
D. Fairchild Ruggles, Gardens, Landscape, and Vision in the Palaces of Islamic Spain (Pennsylvania State University Press, 2000). This is an outstanding and innovative interpretation of the architecture of al-Andalus.

Ciclo Internacional de Exposiciones Museo Sin Fronteras, El Arte Mudéjar: La estética islámica en el arte cristiano (Vienna: Electa, 2000). Apparently an English translation is in the works: Spain: Mudejar Art -- Islamic Aesthetics in Christian Art (London: Art Book International Ltd, 2002). This is an absorbing survey of Islamic architectural and design styles in Christian Spain.  The book is one of a series of excellently produced catalogs on Islamic art in the Mediterranean region, supported by the European Union as a pilot project for cooperation between Spain, Portugal, and Morocco. These are produced in the form of guides to itineraries in different countries that travelers may follow, and there are also discreet markers placed in the actual sites that are described in the books.

Brigitte Hintzen-Bohlen, Art and Architecture: Andalusia (Cologne: Könemann, 1999).  A conveniently sized and modestly priced guidebook with lots of great illustrations.

Gonzalo M. Borrás Gualis, El Islam, de Córdoba al Mudéjar (Madrid: Silex, 1999). A good survey of Islamic architecture in Spain.

More suggestions for reading on Sufism in Andalusia will be forthcoming.