Iconic books are texts revered as objects of power rather than just as words of instruction, information, or insight. In religious and secular rituals around the globe, people carry, show, wave, touch and kiss books and other texts, as well as read them. This blog chronicles such events and activities. (For more about iconic books, see the links to the Iconic Books Project at left.)

Monday, April 13, 2009

The Alhambra's Inscriptions

The AP, along with many other media sources, reports on an effort to translate and catalog all the inscriptions on the walls of the Alhambra, in Grenada, Spain. Caligraphic carvings, estimated to number around 10,000, cover walls, columns, and fountains.

Through the centuries, the popular belief was that most of the writings were verses from the Quran or poetry. But on the basis of the Alhambra building that has been studied so far, the Comares Palace, those amount to less than 10 percent of the total, Castilla said.

In fact, the phrase repeated most often — hundreds upon hundreds of times — is a sentence considered the slogan of the Nazrid dynasty, one of the successions of rulers that passed through the Alhambra. It says: "There is no victor but God."

... "As you walk along, it seems as if you are opening a book of poetry and turning the pages," he said

The presumption that all the incriptions are Qur'anic shows the power that the convention of monumentalizing iconic scriptures exerts on popular expectations of any monumentally inscribed Arabic text.

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