A Nasrid ampoule. Perfume in Moorish society of al-Andalus
Opening hours: Saturdays at 12:00, September
Venue: Room VII, Museum of the Alhambra, Palace of Charles V.
Pieces like this ampoule for essences show us the importance of the use of ointments, perfumes or oils in Moorish society of al-Andalus. Every weekday, the same as on holydays, a broad variety of fragrances was entering in every public, private or religious space.
Furthermore, the use of perfumes was extending to both men and women of any social class. The most used essences were those extracted from lemon, rose, violet, amber, musk… and the use of one or another could depend on the season, mood or the event to attend. This topic gained such importance that frequently it would be included in treatises about feeding, hygiene and medicine.
On the other hand, in the Koran is clearly described Mohammed’s love for perfumes and this topic recurs many times in the Book, as when it is promised to the believers “a perfumed paradise with big rivers, trees and gardens, and beautiful huris (maiden) with black eyes, made of purest musk”.
The eagerness to discover and take delight in new perfumes leaded to an intense quest in the most remote countries, creating a real “Spice Route” from the East to the Mediterranean, bringing over to the Moorish society in al-Andalus such valued sorts like cinnamon, ginger, Indian sandalwood or perfumed wood. Due to the importance that the society granted to perfumes, small receptacles began arising: essence receptacles, ampoules, perfume sprinkler, etc., made of glass and – depending on the owner – they could be more or less elaborated, even carved with geometric or floral motives and with inlay of other materials.