Most of my travel journals are now at Daveno Travels where I am reissuing them as Director’s Cuts, with full text and previously unpublished photos. This is an excerpt from my trip to Cordoba in 2012, highlighting my textile finds in the Jewish Quarter.
I leave the Mezquita and admire the palms, as they filter shade onto the hard-packed clay that paves the public spaces here. I am off to the Jewish Quarter, one of the best preserved and largest urban Jewrys in Europe. There are two homes of note here, across the street from each other, as well as the Synagogue.
The first home is Casa de Sefarad. The first room of this house is filled with absolutely stunning metalworked textiles as well as jewelry and household objects.
Sephardic Jews introduced the production of Golden Thread from North Africa to Europe via Morocco, Turkey and the Mediterranean. Gold and silver were smelted in specialized furnaces to produce this thread, which was then spun with silk to make it pliable. Golden Thread production contributed to the social structure of single and widowed Jewish women, who were the chief creators of both the thread and the textiles it embellished. Sephardic Jews had a leading role in the production of this thread up to the 20th century.
The jacket below was worked in what looked like both gold and silver. It was interesting to note the difference between the men’s shoes (with the upturned toes) and the women’s shoes (that were flat).
I admire cases of jewelry, including a pair of silver cloak brooches, and a metal wedding cap similar to those I saw in Bursa.
I am stunned to find a full size painting of Lubna, a 10th century Cordoban woman with extensive knowledge of calculus, metrics, and math. She worked in the library of Caliph Al-Hakim II, considered the most important depository of knowledge at the time. She is also a doppelgänger for a friend of mine, Kate O’Guinn.
Across the street is Andalucia House, whose claim to fame is a scale model of one of the first paper making factories in the Western world. Paper was invented to China, and carried by Muslims during the 10th century to Europe via Bagdad, Sicily and Spain. I have boarded the papermaking process on Pinterest.