Ataifor with horse

901 - 1000 AD.

Museo Arqueológico de Granada

Museo Arqueológico de Granada
Granada, Spain

Large glazed ceramic dish with decoration painted in green and black (copper and manganese), called "green and manganese" in scientific language. The decoration consists of a horse tackled and saddled, with a long flowing mane, and the tail gathered from the beginning and tied to the end in three sections. There is a bird on the saddle with its wings outspread, holding the reins in its beak. The figure of the horse, common in Eastern Islamic art, is not as common is Hispanic Islamic art, with few known examples from this period. The figure of the horse as a support to a warrior or knight is relatively common in Eastern art, although this strange image a bird riding a horse is unknown, with the exception of some pieces produced in the 10th century in Nishapur (Iran) in which, in addition to the warrior, there is a bird on the horses` hindquarters. It so happens that the bird from the Elvira piece has a clear parallelism with another bird from Nishapur. The naturalism of the horse is surprising. Its Mongolian aspect has been mentioned, and in fact, it appears to be more of a Mongolian or Chinese horse, of little height, with strong flanks and rounded hooves, than the abstractions of horses normally found in Eastern Islamic art. This piece clearly originates from Granada, however both Persian and Egyptian influences can be seen in it, although it has a strong naturalism which has traditionally been attributed to a classical influence on the Iberian peninsula.


  • Title: Ataifor with horse
  • Date Created: 901 - 1000 AD.
  • Location: Atarfe. Granada
  • Type: Artefact
  • Medium: Faience

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