We’ve discovered a shop in Granada called Tauriq. It’s near the cathedral on Calle San Jerénimo and sells old stuff: tiles, ceramic bowls from cities such as Seville and Granada, marble slabs, clay vases which once stored olive oil or wine, clocks and more (a shop that has several clocks ticking simultaneously always has the effect of making one go instantly silent).
There are brass fountain spouts and iron keys which may unlock 800-year-old doors in La Alpujarra. It’s said that there are Moorish descendants alive today in north Africa, among other places, who still own keys to doors in houses their ancestors lived in before being expelled from Spain in the 16th century.
Fernando, who owns Tauriq, showed us around his gorgeous shop and nearby storage warehouse. A three-metre long chestnut trunk stood out – he made it after sawing the wood, by hand, in Capileira many years ago; a skill that is dying, he told us. There was a handmade children’s theatre complete with tiny puppets he was restoring for his young son. He demonstrated how the ingenious, secret compartments on a writing desk ‘worked’ – dovetail joints that were, in fact, hinges that opened tiny boxes. Some people care about beautiful things and don’t want to see them disappear.
Upstairs he had traditional Alpujarran furniture and old kitchen utensils that once stirred patatas a la pobre around a pan over an open fire. ‘Price is not the same as value‘ he lamented, making reference to the recent crisis in Spain when people stopped buying non-essential items like carved window frames from Córdoba. But we shall return to his little shop of wonders – cracked and bent pieces of Spain’s past.
A few weeks earlier, from a place not far from Fernando’s, we bought a solitary tile. It was made around 1550 in Toledo – the same time as Elizabeth 1 planted her warm buttocks on the throne of England, and before the Spanish Armada. It’s strangely odd, but also thrilling, holding something so old.
We wish we knew where the tile came from exactly, but that’s a mystery that can never be solved. The technique for making it is called ‘arista’. Its design would have been cut into a plaster mould which was then used to create the ‘positive’ pattern of ridges – the arista – on the tile. This left compartments which were then filled with coloured lead glazes.
A staff member at London’s fabulous V&A museum gave us a little more information: ‘It’s a type of tile known collectively as ‘olambrillas’ which were small tiles used to fill in the spaces in a larger geometric pattern – on a wall.’
They also recommended this book: Anthony Ray, Spanish Pottery 1248-1898, V&A publication, 2000.
The tile is a simple thing, but a treasure all the same.
© con jamón spain