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Zellige

Hand-made zellige on request.

The Paris-based Almaviva tile studio offers custom-made Moroccan Zelliges.

You can see examples of zellige in our showroom in the centre of Paris, in the Montparnasse district.

The zellige: a Moroccan ceramic art

 

Just as the word azulejo, the word zellige is of Arabic origin and means “small polished stone”; these 2 words share the same etymology.

Zellige designates an ornamental technique that was developed in the Maghreb since the 10 th century to imitate Roman mosaics. This art has become indissociable with the Moroccan architecture and it provides its finest examples. This art reached its apogee under the Merinid dynasty in the 14 th century and extended even to Spain and Portugal. Its manufacturing process is reminiscent of both the mosaic and marqueterie. The Alhambra in Granada still preserves some beautiful zelliges of this time, sometimes called alicatados in Spain.

carreau Maroc

The zellige: a cutting technique

Terracotta tiles are glazed with a single colour and then cut with a sharp tool in various geometric shapes: square, diamond, triangle, star, cross, and other polygons. They are then combined to form a pattern, usually geometrically complex. The edges of the sherds are beveled so that when assembled, grouting can be as thin as possible.

Alhambra zellige

A second method involves scraping the enamel so that only the pattern appears in colour, as the rest of the tile remains in bare fired clay. With this technique, one can avoid the rigour of geometry and obtain curves.

zellige Alhambra