Exhibition ‘The signs of everyday life – gestures, marks and symbols in the Al-Ândalus’
The exhibition ‘The signs of everyday life – gestures, marks and symbols in the Al-Ândalus’, developed by the Mértola Archaeological Site, with the collaboration of the Mértola Museum, will be on display at the Arraiolos Carpet Interpretation Centre, in Arraiolos, from 11 March to 22 May 2022.
In the catalogue, Susana Gómez Martinez and Cláudio Torres state, about this exhibition, that ‘the objects we have from the Islamic period show signs that need to be deciphered and interpreted. Symbols, gestures, messages, signs and marks appear engraved on everyday utensils and reveal the experiences and imagination of the people who used them. This exhibition presents some examples of objects found in excavations from the Islamic period in the west of the Iberian Peninsula, the Gharb al-Ândalus, clarifying some of their less obvious meanings.
The exhibition is organised along three axes: Symbols – images that represent abstract ideas, Gestures – aspects of objects that illustrate customs and experiences of the people who used them, and Marks – signs left on objects through their use.
We live surrounded by symbols. From road signs to brand logos, drawings and colours convey messages that we interpret instantly and almost unconsciously. Ancient civilisations, lacking today’s means of communication, expressed themselves even more than now through symbols, yet their meaning may no longer be obvious. Some of the symbols that came to us from the medieval Islamic civilisation in the Iberian Peninsula can be deciphered, with some difficulty, using ancient texts. Many were already present in classical civilisations, but were adapted and reinterpreted in the light of Islam. We do not intend to exhaust the immense symbolic and ornamental wealth of the Islamic legacy in al-Ândalus, but we believe we have gathered some significant examples.
Equally endless is the repertoire of gestures engraved on everyday objects in the Gharb, but also more difficult to recognise and interpret, not least because, in many cases, it was not intended to be ‘read’ and recognised by others, as in the case of the symbol, but rather an effect, a consequence that the Almighty could undoubtedly provide.
There would be countless marks to point out, almost as many as there are objects, because in each of them time and people have left signs, often overlapping, that tell the story of life, of effort and work, the dominant components of people’s daily lives’.
Visit the beautiful Town of Arraiolos and the Carpet Interpretation Centre, and take also the opportunity to visit this Exhibition. Consider yourself invited!