Islamic green used to stigmatise Spanish convict labour?

Joseph Townsend, A Journey Through Spain in the Years 1786 and 1787 (1791):

When we drew near to Barcelona, we had to cross a river [ie the Besòs], in which we counted fifty felons, clothed in green, and employed in clearing the channel, whilst sentinels stationed at convenient distances prevented their escape.

It is curious to observe this mark of contempt for the Moors, in clothing their vilest criminals, and even their hangman, in green, the sacred colour of Mahometans, more especially in Africa.

I wonder if Townsend is correct in his supposition. Francisco de Holanda (De la pintura antigua, 1548) and Diego López (Declaración magistral sobre las emblemas de Andrés Alciato, 1615) both clothe the virtue Hope in green, and López explains why:

Preguntale a la Esperança. (Cur palla tibi viridis, scilicet est) porque tienes la [Anterior]ropa verde[Siguiente]. Responde la esperança. (Quod omnia vernent) porque todas las cosas están verdes. (Me duce) siendo yo la guia, y capitán. Cosa muy antigua es pintar la Esperança de verde, porque siempre le ha sido dedicado, tomando la metafora de las sembradas, las quales quando están verdes, esperamos que han de madurar. Esto tocó Persio en la Satira 6. Occa, et seges altera in herba est. Y assí en la Emblema de los colores, dize Alciato, que el color verde nos manda esperar.

I wonder then whether dressing prisoners in green was not an ironic take on Zechariah 9:12:

Turn you to the stronghold, ye prisoners of hope

Similar posts


Comments

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *