THE HISTORY OF MOROCCAN ZELLIGE TILES: Lost Art of Morocco!
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A brief history of Moroccan Zellige Tiles
The history of Moroccan Zellige tiles is fascinating and here is why: The word “Zellige” in Arabic means “polished stone” or “tile”. This craft was originated in Morocco in the 10th century and quickly spread across the world thanks to the Spanish invasion.
Moroccan Zellige tiles’ origins are not very clear, however, Islam used to forbid the representation of animals and people in art, therefore geometrical shapes and complicated patterns became the only way to decorate and express artistic freedom. Furthermore, it was a way to imitate Roman mosaics.
In the 10th century, these tiles used to be mainly white and brown, as the practice became more popular the color palette expanded. In the 14th century blue, green, and yellow were added, and only years later red became commonly used.
Today there are endless combinations of Moroccan tile patterns (squares, triangles, diamonds, and many more…). They represent the perfect union between mathematical and artistic design.
A true art!
The technique of making Zellige tiles is very complicated, the masters of this craft undergo a long training process in order to build up their experience, patient, and precision.
Natural clay from the region of Fez (Morocco) is mixed with water, hand-shaped, and dried in square or rectangular shapes. Glazing is then applied on one side of the tile.
Finally, Moroccan zellige tiles get manually cut in the correct form (depending on the final design) by using a sharp hammer.
Due to the handmade long process, Zellige tiles are all different and unique!
From Small Villages to Luxury Interior Design
Zellige tiles remain a staple of Moroccan culture and art decoration. Since their invention, they have been a symbol of sophistication, wealth, and power for royal and religious establishments.
Of course, it was only a matter of time before the rest of the world started implementing and researching Zellige tiles for luxury homes.
Today they are known as the “prince of tiles” and they are highly requested for bathrooms and kitchens with jaw-dropping geometrical designs.
Moroccan tile making is an ancient art, people have dedicated their lives to master this craft, therefore buying Zellige tiles is not a budget-friendly option.
Nevertheless, there are many cheaper imitations available but, unfortunately, that lack authenticity and tradition.
Moroccan Zellige Tiles Essential Tips and FAQS
- Are Moroccan Zellige tiles hard to clean?
The nature of zellige tiles results in imperfect and uneven shapes, therefore they can be tricky to clean at times. Moreover, the most difficult part to keep clean is the grout in between tiles, of course, there are plenty of available products to help you maintain your design at its best, including grout restorers! If you are interested in Moroccan Zellige tiles don’t let this stop you.
- Can you use Moroccan Zellige tiles on the floor?
Yes, Zellige tiles can be used on the floor as well as walls, especially in low-traffic areas.
- Can Moroccan Zellige tiles be used outside?
Moroccan Zellige tiles are regularly used outdoors, especially in areas with mild temperatures. Like other ceramic tiles, they are not affected by the sun or UV exposure, the correct kind of grout will help with thermal shocks.
- How to install Moroccan Zellige Tile correctly?
Tiling walls and floors is a long and precise job. Generally speaking, it doesn’t require any advanced skill and can be done by anyone happy to spend some time learning the basics and giving it a go. Nevertheless, as Moroccan Zellige tiles often come with very intricate and complicated designs you might want to hire a specialist to help you.
Looking for Inspiration?
Don’t know where to start? Use these Moroccan Zellige Tiles ideas and inspiration to get started:
In this fast-moving world, the art of traditional handmade Zellige is slowly disappearing and being replaced with machine-made tiles. Acknowledging the history of Moroccan Zellige tiles will help keep the traditions alive and support its masters. Morocco takes a lot of pride in this old artisan skill!