Book: Archaeology, Politics and Islamicate Cultural Heritage in Europe
Chapter: 6. Rethinking the Borders of Islamic Art: Paterna Ceramics from the 14th Century to Today
Recent scholarship in Islamic art and architecture has seen a growing interest in art from the borderlands – including the borders of empires, peoples, religions and practices. In this context, the art made by Muslim populations in medieval, post-Islamic Spain should be front and centre, as prime examples of Islamic art from the borders. Instead, the art of Muslims from medieval Christian Spain has remained in relative obscurity, languishing under the antiquated classifications of 'Hispano-Moresque' and mudéjar. This paper will examine the art of one of these border communities – the ceramics made in Paterna near Valencia in the 14th century – in a focused study of their production, distribution, excavation and display. It will consider how encounters with the material culture of these border communities have been inflected by the politics of excavation, museum display and academic scholarship and question whether the porous borders implicit in the term Islamicate might offer a more fitting classification than mudéjar or ‘Hispano-Moresque’.