Moroccan Zellige Tile
The art of zellige flourished at the Hispano-Moresque period (Azulejo) of the Maghreb region. The art remained very limited in use until the Merinid dynasty who gave it more importance around the 14th century and introduced blue, green and yellow colors. Red was added in the 17th century. When referring to Moroccan Zellige Tile, the old enamels with the natural colors were used until the beginning of the 20th century and the colors had probably not evolved much since the period of Merinids. The cities of Fes and Meknes in Morocco remain the centers of this art.
Patrons of the art used Moroccan Zellige Tile historically to decorate their homes as a statement of luxury and the sophistication of the inhabitants. Zellige is typically a series of patterns utilizing colorful geometric patterns. This framework of expression arose from the need of Islamic artists to create spatial decorations that avoided depictions of living things, consistent with the teachings of Islamic law.
Moroccan Zellige Tile making is considered an art in itself. The art is transmitted from generation to generation by maâlems (master craftsmen). A long training starts at childhood to implant the required skills.
Assiduous attention to detail is needed when creating zellige. The small shaped (cut according to a precise radius gauge), painted and enamel covered pieces are then assembled in a geometrical structure as in a puzzle to form the completed mosaic. The process has not varied for a millennium, though conception and design has started using new technologies such as data processing.
Some people also spell it Moroccan Zellij Tile.