Saturday, April 07, 2007

Mudejar Style in Mexico

If I were building a house in San Miguel, we'd have one or more carved canterra interior windows similar to this one. The style is called Mudejar.

The Mudéjar style, a symbiosis of techniques and ways of understanding architecture resulting from Muslim, Christian and Jewish cultures living side by side, emerged as an architectural style in the 12th century on the Iberian peninsula. It is characterised by the use of brick as the main material. Mudéjar did not involve the creation of new shapes or structures (unlike Gothic or Romanesque), but reinterpreting Western cultural styles through Islamic influences. The dominant geometrical character, distinctly Islamic, emerged conspicuously in the accessory crafts using cheap materials elaborately worked—-tilework, brickwork, wood carving, plaster carving, and ornamental metals. To enliven planar surfaces of wall and floor, Mudéjar style developed complicated tiling patterns that have never been surpassed in sophistication.

This style was common in the 12th to 16th century in Spain and of course you see the influence in Mexican architecture as well. But I don't think I've seen as intriguing an example of this architectural influence as this carved window of bold, stylized floral motifs. The window is in La Guatapera or House of the Virgins in the purepecha language. La Guatapera was completed about 1555 and faces the main plaza in Uruapan. It is next door to the San Francisco church but the original church burned down and was rebuilt in the 19th century. Richard D. Perry writes about this window as well as one similar to it in Zacan in his book, Blue Lakes and Silver Cities.

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