first 5 samples are free!
first 5 samples are free!

Zellige and The Truth About Terracotta Tiles

04 / 26 / 2020



Terracotta has become a catch-all for clay-based tile and ceramics. The art of Terracotta dates back to Ancient Mesopotamia, thousands of years before common era. Throughout history, countless cultures have created their own variation of the fired earthenware. Can you guess the name of its Moroccan variation? If you guessed our favorite handmade zellige tiles, then you’re correct! While zellige tiles were popularized in the Hispano-Moresque period, the craft of terracotta clay-making was their artsy predecessor. Have a taste of terracotta when you install zellige tiles in your home.




Clay for Every Day



While the name terracotta is Italian for “baked earth,” the brownish orange clay is not only found in the Mediterranean. Terracotta can be harvested pretty much anywhere clay is naturally available. Zellige, however, has a more specific source. In order for a clay tile to be considered zellige, the clay must come from the Fez region of Morocco. Master craftsmen known as “maâlems” learn the art of Zellige as apprentices, and the skill has been passed down for generations. Molded by hand and dried in the hot, Moroccaan sun, zellige tiles are truly a labor of love. Put simply, if it’s not from Morocco, it’s not zellige!




What Makes Zellige, Zellige



While essentially the terracotta of North Africa, zellige tile does vary slightly in appearance from the typical terracotta style. While the word “terracotta” conjures up imagery of natural oranges, reds, and browns, unadulterated zellige is more of a creamy tan color. The term “zellige” is also reserved strictly for tilework, while terracotta covers everything from flooring to sculptures to vases. Terracotta is typically fired and glazed just like zellige, but zellige is fired in a traditional olive-pit kiln. They are also heated unevenly to give the tiles natural visual variation. In our opinion, there’s no material with quite as much character as zellige.




Terracotta or Terra Rosa?



If you’ve fallen in love with the warm terracotta aesthetic, we offer several zellige tiles that fit the bill! Our Terra Rosa shade was developed specifically for those who love earthy pinks. Terra Rosa has a brown base with a hint of color, which is ideal for designers who love neutrals with a little spice. Another option in the orangey-brown family is our golden Amber shade. This tile is equal parts natural and vibrant. Add a little yellow orange to your traditional tan and you’ll get the eye-catching Amber. Still looking for your perfect terracotta tint? We also offer custom options for our visionary customers.




Uncover Natural Beauty



There’s something unarguably special about clay in its purest form. If you’re incorporating zellige into your home, you might as well show its natural beauty! That’s why we offer our zellige tiles in both Glazed Earth and Unglazed Natural options. The Glazed Earth shade takes the original zellige color and adds a glossy finish. These tiles look authentic and still have a bit of the distinguishing shine. Our Unglazed Natural tiles are for those who really want a down-to-earth interior. You wanted neutral, so we gave you neutral! Let the pure, untainted beauty of zellige steal the show.




Zellige at Zia Tile



Here at Zia Tile, we understand the obsession with clay décor. We started this business because we fell head over heels for the clay-based tiles that adorned buildings throughout the Mediterranean. If you’re looking for a terracotta tile with a rich history and even richer color options, look no further. Our zellige tiles can be used for pretty much any design project. Whether you are adding a kitchen backsplash or covering and entire accent wall, zellige tiles can do it all. Both pretty and practical, let your imagination run wild with the possibilities of zellige. Ready to place and order or just want to chat clay? Contact our friendly customer service team today: 310-844-1170

Leave Comment

Leave a Reply

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


for new arrivals, exclusive sales, event invites and more.