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The Fountain of the Lions

“(…) To such a diaphanous bowl,
pearl carved,
by borders the alladfar pond,
and it goes between “margaritas” the argento,
fluid and also made white and pure.
So close is the hard and the flowing
that it is difficult to know which of them flows (…) “*

These verses are found on the perimeter of the cup that is part of the fountain that we find in the “Patio de Los Leones” in the Alhambra, Granada. Through these verses, the poet Ibn Zamrak describes the central fountain that is undoubtedly the most emblematic of the Patio.

The “Patio de Los Leones” was built by Mohamed V, with a rectangular floor plan and surrounded by a gallery of 124 white marble columns. Its decoration is finely carved, as is customarily in Muslim art. From each hall that surrounds the Patio,  flows four fine streams that go towards the center of the “Patio de los Leones”, are the so-called four rivers of paradise. It is there when he arrives at the Fountain of “Los Leones”, joining the water, symbol of purification and life, with the image of the lion, guardian of power. In addition, the entire floor of the patio is practically all marble. Originally, the center of the patio was a low garden, suffering many modifications throughout the years. At present, in order to avoid moisture that has accumulated from other eras, it was decided to practically eliminate it.

The fountain of Los Leones, is composed of a central cup supported by twelve lions spouts of water made of white marble. If we look closely at each one of the lions, we will observe that although the twelve are in alert posture, with their tails folded, ears raised, teeth clenched, that is, very pending at the least gesture or order of the sultan to go out to attack, even so, each one, maintains individual traits. It is said that the twelve lions represent the twelve tribes of Israel or to the twelve sons that Jacob had. Two of the lions have a small triangle on their foreheads that indicates the two chosen tribes: Judah and Levi. On the other hand, it is pointed out that the twelve lions have a clear astrological symbolization, since, in addition, each lion refers to a symbol of the zodiac. Whether one thing or the other, these lions are a marvel both in art and in history.

 

* Literal translation

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