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Moroccan Tile: The Fascinating History of Zellige

05 / 01 / 2020

 

 

To stay sane during the pandemic, we’ve been dreaming about all the places we want to go once we can explore the world again. If anything positive has come out of this, it’s the fact that we’ll never take the ability to sightsee for granted. One of our favorite places in the world is Morocco, and not just because its where we discovered the magic of zellige tiles.

 

If you’ve never been to Morocco, you need to make it a top travel goal ASAP. It’s impossible not to scroll through Instagram without coming across photos of the stunning mosaics in Marrakesh. From intricate mosques to ornate gardens, elaborate design has been an integral part of Morocco’s architectural appeal for centuries. If taking a trip to marvel at the vibrant interiors and exteriors of North Africa isn’t on your bucket list yet, it should be.

 

 

 

Mediterranean Marvels

 

 

Spain and Morocco share the credit for popularizing handcrafted zellige, but the Moroccan cities of Fes and Meknes are known as the center for zellige. The creation of zellige is a Moorish art, meaning it was created by the Muslim inhabitants of North Africa and the Mediterranean. If you’ve ever been to Spain, Malta, or Sicily, you’ve probably seen the iconic Islamic art and architecture.

 

 

 

Spanish Flair

 

 

There’s a reason why southern Spain looks drastically different than the north, and that’s because of the Moroccan Moorish influence. What does this mean for zellige? Well, it really got popular in an era called the Hispano-Moresque period between 711 and 1492. Wait a minute…does that mean the tile we sell today has been around since the FIRST century? That’s right! Part of the reason we fell in love with zellige tiles is because of their rich history.

 

 

 

Fancy Schmancy

 

 

When it first became popular, Moroccan tile work wasn’t available to just anybody. Zellige mosaics were commissioned by wealthy families during the Nasrid dynasty, Merinid dynasty and Zayyanid dynasty. The good news is, zellige tile is much more accessible today for the average homeowner. You don’t have to wear a crown to order custom zellige tiles (although if you do wear a crown on a regular basis, we won’t judge you).

 

 

 

Shades of Cool

 

 

Looking at the stunning zellige designs from the past makes us wish we were alive to see them in their original glory, but the good news is, zellige tiles are so hardy, they look pretty much the same as they did back then! Plus, another benefit to being a contemporary admirer is that Moroccan zellige tiles come in wayyyyy more colors than they used to. They were totally plain until the 14th century when blue, yellow, and green glazes became popular. The iconic Moroccan red wasn’t even introduced until the 17th century. Today, we offer Moroccan tiles 38+ vivid shades. So, you get the cultural history of the past, and the variety of the present. It’s the best of both worlds!

 

 

 

Vivid AND Versatile

 

 

Moroccan tiles are typically pretty small, and that’s because they were originally used to create insanely intricate mosaics and designs. Today, you can use them pretty much anywhere! Cover your kitchen floor with an ombré of blue shades from Moroccan Blue to Glacier. Make your backsplash the focus of the room with a Cadmium yellow or Cayenne red.  Although Moroccan zellige tiles are traditional, your interior doesn’t have to be. There are endless ways to make these handmade materials work for you. Allow yourself to really get creative, and let us take care of bringing your dream to life.

 

 

 

Art for All!

 

 

The method of creating Moroccan zellige tiles is recognized as a national art form, and each artist must attend a special school for artisans in order to perfect the craft. When you choose Moroccan zellige, you’re supporting an extremely disciplinary art form. The tile-makers take pride in their work, and they are passionate about making only the highest quality tiles. No two tiles are exactly alike, and we think that’s what makes them special. So, what are you waiting for? Scroll through our extensive catalog and order some free samples! If you don’t see your ideal Moroccan zellige tile, we also offer color-matching and custom design services. No matter the nature of your project, you won’t be disappointed with zellige’s colorful backstory and equally colorful appearance. Give us a call at 310-870-5192 or send us an email at info@ziatile.com. We ship worldwide!

 

 

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