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The history of two Christian counts of the Middle Ages is hidden in chess pieces

MEDIEVAL ART

A CSIC researcher pursues the connections between the noble Ilduara Eiriz and Ermesinda de Carcasona through personal objects of Muslim origin that have survived in Ecléstic Treasures

Silvia R. PontevedraSantiago -

He acknowledges that his work could feed thick novels loaded with historical milestones and prohibited romances among Christian nobles and caliphs dressed in silk.But his, emphasizes, "is not literary fiction, but research", in which the analysis of metals with x -ray fluorescence plays. Therese Martin (Institute of History, Higher Council for Scientific Research) leads aInternational team that tracks in things the story that has not transcended because it was never written in old scrolls.His project (the Hispanic medieval treasure in its context: collections, connections and representations in the Peninsula and beyond) has led these researchers to study objects preserved in ecclesiastical collections (for the moment, in the Basilica of San Isidoro, in León, in León, inToledo and in the Cathedral of Ourense), because they suppose a whole reef of intimate stories thanks to the donated heritage they retain.

The group was clear two years ago where it was going to start, but it was the investigated pieces and others like four “magical” rings, which crossed the road in an unsuspected way, which marked the course. This is how Martin discovered the golden trail that linked to the Countess Ilduara Eiriz (last quarter of the IX-958 century), mother of Bishop San Rosendo, with Ermesinda de Carcasona (Condesa consort and regent of Barcelona, ​​972-1058). They were, at the time, the richest and most powerful women of their territories, and both could owe two exquisite rock glass chess games, parts from remote lands to which only the ruling elites had access. Of which some authors believe that Ilduara (or aldara) bequeathed to her son and only eight figures are preserved in the Museum of the Cathedral of Ourense (tower, alfil, horse and five pawns). What is known that Ermesinda enjoyed there is no trace, but a stamp was stored in the cathedral of Girona with the name of her.

And Therese Martin sees on this seal two fascinating things: the first, which inside the letters persists the same golden brightness as in several of the ouledz oudrez pieces.The second, which under her name in Latin also appears written Ermesnda in Arabic.Palpita, in the Galician and Catalan cases, the hypothesis that the ladies had received those assets as exotic as gifts of diplomatic or personal nature, which would reveal their links with very distant land leaders."The Girona Cathedral is now very interested in analyzing the alloy" that covers the letters of the seal, explains the team director.The purpose is to know more about its origins and check if it is similar to the one that shines to the chess of Ourense (called chess of San Rosendo), a torque that for decades was confused with the patina and the wear and tear that until now, according to Martin,It had not been studied.

La historia de dos condesas cristianas de la Edad Media se esconde en unas piezas de ajedrez

The person in charge of making ancient metals speak is Xosé-Lois Armada, a member of the multidisciplinary team and linked to the Institute of Heritage Sciences in Santiago de Compostela.He travels everywhere with the X -ray fluorescence spectrometer, an apparatus that reveals the materials that make up the objects.A year ago, for example, the silver analysis of the legendary jewels that were discovered in the late 2020s during some restoration works was entrusted.The so -called "miraculous" rings, attributed to several "saints" bishops of the 10th century, were hidden with human bones in a reliquary of the Church of Santo Estevo de Ribas de Sil (Ourense).They were inside a woven sac in golden thread, with a handwritten note that warned of their healing powers.And the repercussion of the finding completely changed the plans of The Reex Martin, who coincidentally already worked in Ourense with objects such as chess.

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To know the true origin of these mysterious rings (which by the legend they dragged had already inspired literary works before being found), researchers need to analyze many other silver jewels of the time.Simultaneously, they look for parallels with the golden bathroom of the chess game attributed to Ilduara or the Latin and Arab seal of Ermesinda.In its latest article, published in Spanish Art Archive (Glimpses of Gold: Material Evidence of Cross-Cultural Connections in A Rock Crystal Chess Set and a Countless Seal, Divise the Dorado: Material evidence of intercultural connections in a glass chess of glassRoca and the seal of a Countess), Martin claims this other way of investigating the human history that no one considered that it should be embodied in manuscripts."The texts are very important, but we have to detach them from them as if they were the only truth," defends the author.

The CSIC researcher explains that most of the medieval rock glass pieces are considered of Fatimí origin (Cairo), but also quotes new theories that suggest an abasi origin (Baghdad) for collections such as the one preserved in Ourense.Until now, the golden brightness, which in the analysis has resulted in a compound of lead, copper and zinc (more resistant than gold for utensils exposed to fingertips), did not attract the attention of chess scholars.The eight pieces arrived at the Ourensana Cathedral from the Celanova monastery, enriched with the legacy of Ilduara and his son Rosendo, and are considered one of the most unique treasures of the basilica.So much, that they already have their chocolate -shaped version for tourists.

According to Therese Martin, "no full rock crystal chess" and the collections that are concentrated in Germany (Osnabrück) and Spain (the grain group in Lleida, the three pieces of San Millán de la Cogolla from Yuso in La Rioja, and those of Ourense). In contrast to this shortage of carved figures, there are more and more collectors eager for "any loose piece" that goes out to auction, "especially in Kuwait." Both the chess and Khol's bottles and bottles cars were carved from the remains that were dejusting when elaborating larger objects destined for the caliphs. Among these, the greatest exponents are those that experts know as "seven magnificent", luxurious jaros carved from Fatimí origin, medieval Egypt. One of these jugs went to auction in 2008 in the United Kingdom. The owner believed it was a French vase from the 19th century and aspired to win 300 euros, but the pulse between two stosers who knew more than he raised the departure price to 300,000. A few days later, the object was appraised at 7.5 million.

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