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Piece of the Month

The upper hinges

The upper hinges

The Patronato de la Alhambra and Generalife presents the gorroneras (upper hinges) of the Patronato de la Alhambra and Generalife, decorated with the mocárabe technique (stalactite work). Those interested in participating in this free activity, to be held every Saturday in October from 12:00 on, are invited to come to Room V of the Museum of the Alhambra. The art historian Gaspar Aranda will reveal the specialties of this significant architectural element.
The two pieces are made of wood, like hollow boxes. Originally they served as the decorated cover of two simple wooden plugs, shaped like rectangular prisms, which were partly built in the wall. On the bottom side they present an open hole.
This hole originally held the pivot (a cylindrical metallic pin) from the upper axis of the gate, by which the gate leaf could open and close, together with the floor hinges. These pieces are, therefore, fundamentally architectural elements, converted into fine artistic works due to the brilliant performance of a Nasrid artisan who decorated them by using the mocárabe technique and meticulous polychromy.
The decoration with the mocárabe technique presents the particular inverted pyramid shape. This solution found by the artist is the result of the 3D-projection of some different types of wooden adarajas  (essential prisms of a composition), which are repeated and combined, following a geometric logic, in horizontal lines and in different layers.
The pair of gorroneras entered in 1969 the Museum of the Alhambra. Before, they have been located at the portico of the Museum of the Alhambra, one on each side of the central arch. Their original function was allowing the upper part of the double-leaf gate to open and close to the courtyard. Probably they were installed there in times of Muhammad V, possibly right before 1370, which was the inauguration year of the Museum of the Alhambra, located right in front of the Golden Room and closely linked with it due to the official function within the fortress.
The use of gorroneras (Arabic nayran) in Spanish Islamic architecture was not invented by Nasrid artists, since it was already used by the Umayyads of Córdoba, but they reached their highest artistic expression in the Alhambra, especially when decorated with mocárabe work. This artistic development can be observed in situ in two elements of this type located at the entrance to the north-eastern majlis or hall of Dar al-Mamlaka al-Sa‘ida in the Generalife and also in the ones of the gate of the Sala de la Barca, which are more impressive for the detailed manufacture.
Opening hours: Every Saturday in October, at 12:00 noon.
Location: Room V, Museum of the Alhambra, Palace of Charles V.

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