Granada Workshop XIVth Century – Jamuga Nazarí

In the Spanish-Muslim house, it was habitual to sit in a kneeling position with crossed legs on the floor on top of soft carpets and cushions. Also to be found in these social domestic spaces were some elements of furniture, though only a few, like the Jamuga chair.

The Jamuga is a chair which characterizes the Spanish-Muslim court atmosphere. In reality, it is a folding, wooden hip-joint chair with a seat and back of embossed leather or cloth. The wood is worked with silver, ivory or an inlay of fine woods, always with geometric or plant motives styled thus due to the prohibition of figurative representations imposed by Islam. The technique of inlaying of wood and metal is known as ‘taracea’ which comes from the word ‘Tarsi’ (incrustation) in Arabic and appears to have begun to develop in Spain from the time of the Almoravide invasion in the 12th century. During the 14th and 15th centuries, these workshops in Granada were famous and returned to the form of the Roman curule seat, enriching it with magnificent decorative woodwork. After the expulsion of the Muslims from the Iberian Peninsula, Jamuga chairs continued to be made, but of considerably poorer quality as the years passed because of the increasing loss of knowledge of the Arab craft of inlaying. During the Christian period, it was a chair for authorities, dignitaries and nobles and so it appears in many portraits of Church and civilian authorities from the Renaissance. Today it is a type of chair which is still crafted in Egypt and Syria.

Author: Ana María Fernández García

Photo: Metropolitan Museum of Art