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Decoration of Riads

Decoration follows very specific lines that have changed little over the course of the centuries.
Let’s look first of all at how the patio is decorated :
- The Fountain is an essential element here, cooling the air, its murmur restful to the ear, and a source of domestic water in days gone by. It symbolises comfort in a climate where water represents abundance. In wealthier households It was fashioned from marble and occupied a central position, while in more modest abodes it might be no more than a humble little pool or set against the wall.
- Flooring is made up of bejmat briquettes, often decorated with multicoloured zellij friezes (see below). Here again, marble was a preferred material among the wealthy.
- The bhou (or menzeh) is a sort of summerhouse forming an alcove on one side of the patio. Walls are in tadellakt, decorated with zellij, and ceilings are adorned with carved cedar wood.
- Archways may be finely worked and adorned with sculpted plaster, or replaced by austere upright columns – all depending on era.
- The doors into the lounges, often monumental in size and sometimes “zouaked” (painted), usually provide for two means of entry, with smaller doors built into both main wings, which latter were only opened for the master of the house or for important guests. 















A finely sculpted bhou, in the Riad Farnatchi patio.
A fountain in one of Riad Enija’s patios.
Rooms:
- Tadellakt is of primordial importance in mural decor – a lime-based mixture spread over cement or raw earth, glazed with polished pebbles dipped in liquid soap, and then shined. It is coloured using natural pigments and has an extraordinarily sensuous feel to it.
- Zellij mosaics, with their wealth of geometrical patterns, provide for an infinite range of tonal harmonies. Each piece is positioned individually, following a plan meticulously drawn up by the maalem (master craftsman), who is regarded as a true artist.
Patio de Riad - Marrakech
Patio de Riad - Marrakech
Zellij mural fountain at Riad Esprit du Maroc.
Fountain and monumental door in Riad Talaa 12.
Ceilings are supported by cedar beams, which are often carved or “zouaked” (painted) and sometimes adorned with coffering. Another style, “tataoui”, originated with the Berber peoples of the Atlas Mountains, and consists of painted or unpainted intertwined oleander branches.
Daniel Smith
 Comptoir Darna - Restaurant lounge Paris Marrakech
 
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