December’s Museum Piece of the Month is a glass perfume bottle and the role of perfume in Nasrid Granada. Every Saturday in November, from noon onwards, art historian Montserrat Morillas will analyse the subject in Room VII of the Museum of the Alhambra, as part of a free programme offered by Patronato de la Alhambra y Generalife (PAG).
Pieces like this glass perfume bottle reveal the great importance of ointments, oils and perfumes in Muslim society in Spain. Both for everyday and for special occasions, a huge range of scents and aromas perfumed all public, private and religious spaces. Perfumes were used by both men and women and among all social classes.
Perfumes were made mainly from lemon, rose, violet, amber and musk, among other ingredients, and varied depending on the time of year, mood or the occasion for which they were worn. The importance of scents was such that they were discussed in treatises on nutrition, hygiene and medicine.
Moreover, the Koran mentions Mohammed’s love of perfumes several times, such as when he promises believers a “scented garden under which rivers flow, with trees and gardens, and beautiful houris, with black eyes of purest musk".
The search for new perfumes opened routes to the furthest corners of the world, to bring scents from the East to the Mediterranean. Some, such as cinnamon, ginger, sandalwood and other perfumed woods attained great importance in Muslim society in Spain.
Because of this importance, a range of small glass bottles or ampoules began to be produced, which, depending on whom they were for, could be decorated with geometric or plant motifs or set with precious stones or metals.
Opening hours: Saturdays (December), noon.Location: Room VII, Museum of the Alhambra, Palace of Carlos V.
Source: Patronato de la Alhambra
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