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The wall paintings of El Partal
Alhambra, 14th Century
Also known as the Torre de las Damas
Click on a section of the image for a larger detail.
These paintings found in 1908 in a small house of the small palace called El Partal, representing a huge army.
According to David Nicolle, they were made by Muslim artists and date to the first half of the 14th century.
According to Leopoldo Torres Balbas, however, they are of the second half of the 14th century.
Centre (including Granadine mounted crossbowmen). The wall paintings of El Partal, Alhambra, Spain, 14th Century
Centre, lower. The wall paintings of El Partal, Alhambra, Spain, 14th Century
Right. The wall paintings of El Partal, Alhambra, Spain, 14th Century
Far right. The wall paintings of El Partal, Alhambra, Spain, 14th Century
Referenced on p44, The Moors - The Islamic West - 7th-15th Centuries AD by David Nicolle
Some military figures from an early 14th-century wall-painting in the Torre de las Damas, in the Alhambra palace of Granada.
These drawings show the figures as they were when first uncovered almost a hundred years ago; today most have faded almost beyond recognition.
The main subject appears to be an army approaching some rich tents where a ruler sits with four advisers.
Two of these advisers or guards carry swords with glided pommels and drooping quillons (bottom left).
Outside, most of the soldiers are mounted and are armed with crossbows or spears, though a few have swords and one carries an ordinary composite bow.
The crossbowmen wear white tunics and only the standard bearer has a mail coat, plus a pointed blue and gold helmet with mail down the back.
One of the cavalrymen has a shield with a broad white band on a red field, in what appears to be an unusual example of Western European heraldic influence.
Elsewhere (top left) one man wears a cuirass with gold rivet heads, perhaps indicating a coat-of plates or brigandine.
Referenced as figure 661 in The military technology of classical Islam by D Nicolle
661. Frescos 1325-1350 AD, Andalusian, in situ, Torre de las Damas, Alhambra, Granada (Gom).
An unsurpassed illustration of this distinctively Andalusian early 14th century army of Granada can be seen on a fresco in the Alhambra.
Here the majority of troops seem to be mounted crossbowmen with quivers for quarrels fixed to their saddles.
Hence they must almost invariably have shot while mounted.
Others are equipped as light cavalry with spears and kidney-shaped leather daragah shields.
One true horse-archer also appears, perhaps a stray mercenary from among those thousand or so Ghuzz Turks serving the Sultan of Morocco51 (Fig. 661).
51. Al ʿUmarī, loc. cit.
Other Spanish and North African Illustrations of Costume and Soldiers
Other 14th Century Illustrations of Costume and Soldiers