Deer from the Archaeological Museum of Madrid

Deer from the Archaeological Museum of Madrid
Deer from the Archaeological Museum of Madrid

The Islamic invasion of the Iberian Peninsula was a clash between cultures, but it was precisely from this clash that a great diversity of artistic forms flourished that enriched peninsular art. The innovations brought by the Muslims and not only in terms of art, but also in other aspects of life such as medicine or agriculture, made Al Andalus become a rich and prosperous province.

In this sense we must point out that the work that we are analyzing here and that is currently exhibited in the Archaeological Museum of Madrid, belongs to this period, more specifically to the period of the Umayyad dynasty. Actually, there is not much reliable data we have about the composition and elaboration of this piece; the small deer-shaped statue was found in the sewers of the city of Córdoba when maintenance work was being carried out. On the piece there is no type of inscription or date so it is very difficult to know its origin.


Experts have determined based on comparisons with other similar pieces such as the deer found in the 16th century and that belonged to the palace complex of Medina Azahara, today one of these pieces is exhibited in the Doha Museum in Qatar and the other is exhibited in the Archaeological Museum of Córdoba. The three pieces were made in bronze and have the shape of a fawn, however theircomposition makes us think that, undoubtedly, they must have had another added purpose that was not merely decorative, in fact the experts have suggested that the works that we mention must serve as decorative pipes for the fountains of the palaces, as happens with the Fountain of the lions of the Alhambra in Granada.

The fawns found, and specifically the one we are analyzing here, have a hollow interior structure and a small hole in the belly of about four centimeters through which the pipe would enter, running through the interior of the body to the wide mouth thatwould serve as the supplier.

Technically we find ourselves before a zoomorphic figure made in bronze through the lost wax process and dating from the 10th century. In reality, the figure is not very naturalistic since the body of the animal is too large to be supported by such short and thin legs. During its journey, the piece has lost its horns and an ear, as well as the gilding that was originally supposed to completely cover the sculpture, but it still retains the exquisite decoration with plant motifs that covers its entire surface up to reach the belly area.

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