Arabic Art Forms in Spanish Book Production

Distinctive features of Arabic books, including their non-figurative illuminations, are manifest in Hebrew manuscripts produced under Muslim domination in medieval Spain. Biblical manuscripts in particular were inspired by the decorations found in manuscripts of the Qur’an, as well as by geometric or floral patterns typical of Islamic architecture. Islamic decorative patterns continued to be used by Jewish illuminators in Christian Spain after Muslim rule had ended there.

Carpet pages – full-page, abstract decorations recalling the design of carpets – and micrography – patterns made using lines of minute script – were frequently included in fourteenth- and fifteenth-century Bibles. This type of decoration is not found in Italian or northern European Hebrew books.

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