Mosaic is a form of decorative art in which fragmments of tile are used to create a pattern or a picture. It was used in ancient times for domestic interior decoration. Mosaic is now associated with Roman and Mediterranean dwellings.
The art of mosaic flourished with the Moors. The intricate geomatric designs used to decorate buildings in the Islamic world are often produced as mosaics. The process is known as “zellij” in North Africa. Some of the best examples of Islamic Mosaics were produced in Moorish Spain and are still visible at the ancient Alhambra palace in Cordoba and throughout Southern Spain.
HOW THE ART IS PRACTICED IN MOROCCO
All of the Zellij in Morocco is produced in the ancient city of Fez. Starting with the clay of Fez, the impurities are extracted first, then the clay is mixed until homogenous, cast into small squares, and left to dry slowly in the sun. Once dry, the tiles are rendered flat and dipped in colored enamel. The enamel is made of natural minerals such as zinc, tin, and copper. The tiles are then baked at high temperatures and left to cool.
The mosaic artisan begins by cutting the 4″ x 4″ mosaic tile into the desired shape. Then, just like a puzzle, each piece of tile is inlaid next to the other to form the desired pattern.