The word cordobán refers to the leather worked in Córdoba, so it was known during the Middle Ages in the Western World. The word guadamecí (embossed leather), though original from Ghadames, an ancient city between Algeria and Libya, is distinctively Spanish.
A Cordovan was a goat leather tanned in Córdoba in the early stages of the Emirate, its formidable quality made it famous; demand was so big that this technique expanded to the rest of country and the final product exported to Europe.
The Guadamcí results from the tanning of the ram skin, gilded and then polychromed. Coming from Ghadames, soon gained Spanish character and became a favorite in Europe.
The decorative value of one and the other is quite different. The cordovan is famous for its durability and flexibility and it is linked to a more functional use. Shoes in the medieval ages would not reach a maximum price if they were not made with this kind of leather; also furniture during the Spanish Renaissance, which is particularly sober and resilient.
The guadamecí, on the contrary, offers in its decorations the bright and splendid side of our temperament. Its ornamental disposition follows an evolution based on our historical fashions. Tapestry of the walls, curtains and rugs were made of guadamecí. Furniture wass coated with it, even in churches, the altarpieces and canopies were made with this material.
Even though it was considered a lost craft at the beginning of the twentieth century, as of today there are some workshops in Córdoba where the traditional way of working the cordovan and the guadamecí is preserved. Founded by the craftsman and restorer of this ancient profession Ángel López Obrero, the Meryan Workshop is located near the Mezquita and his shop is always a center of attention.
There are also some smaller workshops that work directly with the public. Very close to the Mezquita, Ghadames is specially interesting for his guadamecíes.
The gallery of the Leathers in De Viana Palace is the most interesting private collection in the city. More than 30 cordovan andguadamecíes dated from the XV to the XIX century form the display.
The House of Ramón García Romero is a beautiful private museum where you can enjoy the magnificent work of this craftsman and, furthermore, it acts as a center for the interpretation of this fine craft from Córdoba.