Zillij is an Islamic art that is based on learning, discipline, and faith. The geometric patterns reflect the Islamic belief that life is ordered by cosmic intelligence, even if people cannot always understand it. The abstract patterns reflect the Islamic desire to understand God’s creation through study rather than copy creation through representational art, which is shunned as a pathway to idolatry. Zillij patterns are constructed from archetypal shapes that have been refined by centuries of scientific study, artistic tradition, and religious belief.
Fundamentally, the purpose of zillij is decoration used to inspire the viewer into meditative reflection of the underlying laws governing the universe. Since Islamic tradition frowns on representational art, Muslims celebrate beauty through decorative arts, such as arabesques, textiles, architecture, tile work, and pottery design. The Prophet Mohammad is quoted as saying “God is beautiful and loves beauty.” The Prophet’s love of learning, appreciation of beauty, and directive to avoid representational art provided an ideal set of constraints for the creation and support of zillij art work. It is hard to imagine this art form arising from any other tradition.
The practice of zillij
dates back to the eleventh century. The practice was likely inspired by Roman mosaics, remnants of which can be seen in the ruins at Volubilis. It is certainly influenced by Islamic belief and tradition, which warns against representational art for fear of idol worship. Whereas representational art may, according to the Islamic perspective, disfigure reality in the observers’ mind and lead to misplaced study and misguided worship, zillij, through a disciplined approach to space, line, and color, encourages the observer to reflect on the perfection of God’s creation.
are unique in the Muslim world. The lines in Moroccan geometry are straight as opposed to the curved lines used in Middle Eastern art traditions. This straight line is thought to be an influence of pre-Islamic architecture, constructed by the Berber (Amazigh) populations before Islamic culture arrived in North Africa. The Moroccan line can be seen in both the hard edges of zillij tiles and the rectangular, not round, minaret of mosques.
mosaic tile also known as Zellidj, Zillij, Zellij, zellige is an important element Moorish and Moroccan architecture and decorating. The word tile is derived from the French word tuile, which is, in turn, derived from the Latin word tegula, meaning a roof tile composed of baked clay. The process of production begins by mixing clay and water and kneeling them by hands and feet until they reach a high level of flexibility and homogeneity. Then, the mixture is cut into squares of 1 cm thickness each. The squares get dried up under the sun before they are put in a special oven for their first phase baking. The tiles are placed in different levels according to the degree of temperature required to attain a particular color. The white tile is often placed in the bottom followed by the blue, yellow, and the green on the top. The second phase starts when we remove the tiles from the oven and separate them by their colors; once we are done with this process, we start drawing the patterns of the intended design directly on tiles; this is done by ‘rasham’ followed by the cutting process which is performed by ‘naqqash’ who carefully separate the drawn pattern by a sharpened hammer. Last but not least, ‘khallas’ or finisher finishes the work by cutting the tiles’ edges assuring that they meet all requirements for production. With the help of our design team, the zillij master draws the design layout on the ground and places each furmah or piece of tile in its exact place in the overall pattern. Interestingly enough, the placement of tiles is done upside down, which makes it even more difficult to absorb.
Zillij usually used to cover walls, floors and columns of kitchens, bathrooms, fireplace, patio, courtyard, fountain,living and dining rooms and many other spaces. These spaces do not only include residences, but also restaurants, hotels, resorts, spas, swimming pool, theatres, golf country clubs, and many other commercial projects. Zillij tiles takes different motifs (geometric, floral and chiseled) in a organic and traditionaly glazed colors. Each motif and color remains a symbol and has a special significance in the iconography of the Islamic/Moorish art. Zillij mosaic tiles goes well with either traditional mediteranean style or even modern contemporary style depending on the combination of colors and pattern that can be made in endless possibilities.
Apart from the floors and walls, zillij
can be used to produce beautiful tables and fountains with a wide variety of motifs and colors. The fountains can either be central or part of a wall. It is usually placed on the wall opposite the main entrance, immediately facing the visitor, as the focus of the zillij decoration. The fountain is a very important element of the Moorish house because water is an epitome of life in the ancient Moorish culture for so many centuries in Al Hambra, Spain. In hot weather, the water from courtyard pools and fountains cools down the surroundings and the running water works as relaxing and appealing visual elements. Water does not only reflect architecture and multiply decorative themes, but it can also serve as a means of emphasizing the visual axes.
Here you you will learn how Moroccan tiles are made. To view videos on Zillij tile , please click on the following :
- Benefits of Zillij (Tiles)
* Feature historic, cultural, artistic, and architectural themes.
* Create unique atmosphere by combining various designs, colors, shapes, and textures.
Economic and Technical benefits:
* Structurally, tile is one of the strongest mechanical finishes, interior and exterior.
* It is fire-resistant and it does not burn at any temperature or produce toxic fumes.
* Its colors are permanent, unaffected by UV rays or fading from sun exposure.
* It is non-conductive and it will not produce an electric shock. It is ideal in sensitive computer installations in corporate settings or home offices.
* It offers high insulation values; it acts as natural cooling element in the summer and retains ambient heat in cold weather.
* Organic and natural color pigments
* Zillij tiles
are green and enviremental friendly
Environmental & Health benefits:
* Slip resistance for improved safety on interior and exterior surfaces.
* It is made from a 100% plentiful and natural raw material that, when removed from a site, is not harmful to the landfills.
* It reduces allergies and improves indoor air quality
Saint Tropez Boutique one of the largest manufacturer of fine zillij mosaic tiles and Moroccan tiles in Morocco, just lunched a new line of zillij tiles that is pre-assembled and front mounted zillij mosaic tiles into 12″ x 12″ sheets or 12″ x 6″ zillij borders using adhesive glue that holds the mosaic tiles well and allow anyone to intall the zillij tiles without the need to any special experience r skills. The Pre-assembled zillij tiles by Saint Tropez Boutique are DIY and are very easy to install same way if you are installting marble or glass mosaics by using ceramic tiles thin-set and grout.
eventhough the zillij tiles comes pre-assembled, they are still handmade, hand-cut, hand-mounted.The art of mosaic in Morocco, called “Zillij,” dates back many centuries. Handmade, hand-glazed and hand-cut terra cotta tile and mosaics are crafted using traditional and regional clays and glaze pigments. Zillij tile is timeless and works beautifully in traditional and contemporary interiors.
For more information on Zillij tiles and Moroccan mosaic tiles feel free to contact:
by Saint Tropez Boutique
25 Evelyn way
San Francisco, California 94127
Phone: (415) 513-5920