Sacred geometry in a mudéjar-style ceiling

A conversation with Dr. Lauren Kilroy-Ewbank and Dr. Steven Zucker below a mudéjar-style ceiling, 16th century, carved, painted, and gilded wood, 28 x 33 ft., Spain (The Metropolitan Museum of Art)

Important terms to know:

  • mudéjar
  • artesonado
  • “Reconquest”
  • lath
  • transculturalism
  • muqarnas
  • Iberian Peninsula

*1492 marked the fall of the last Muslim stronghold in Granada. It was also the year that Jews were expelled from the Iberian Peninsula. The video notes that this was also the year that Muslims were expelled, but this is incorrect. What did begin to occur after 1492 was the outlawing of Islam, and with it there were forced conversions of Muslims. In 1609, moriscos (former Muslims and their descendants) were expelled.


Additional resources

Read about this ceiling on The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s website

Learn more about the expanding the renaissance initiative

Learn more about mudéjar architecture in Aragon, Spain from UNESCO, and here on Google Arts and Culture

Learn more about the legacy of the Reconquest and the term mudéjar in Latin America from Unsettling Journeys

Borrás Gualis, Gonzalo M. 2006. Mudejar: An alternative architectural system in the castilian urban repopulation model. Medieval Encounters 12 (3): 329-40.

Shtrum, Batyah, Melanie Brussat, Miguel Garcia, Timothy Hayes, and Stephanie Massaux, “The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s ‘Spanish Ceiling’ Project: Interpretation and Conservation,” Journal of Architectural Conservation 16, no. 3 (2010). pp. 29–50.

Sheren, Ila Nicole, “Transcultured architecture: Mudéjar’s epic journey reinterpreted,” Contemporaneity: Historical Presence in Visual Culture 1 (2011): 137.


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Cite this page as: Dr. Lauren Kilroy-Ewbank and Dr. Steven Zucker, "Sacred geometry in a mudéjar-style ceiling," in Smarthistory, November 9, 2020, accessed March 3, 2024,