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Zillije - Zellij - Zellige Tiles

The stunning intricate ornamental tiling patterns that cover, with exuberant richness, walls, columns, floors and fountains commonly seen throughout the Imperial cities of Morocco and North Africa, are known as Mosaics. Mosaics are made from polychrome cut tiles, little parts of earthenware, called zillige.
The city of Fez was first in embracing this art, with artisans decorating the walls of mosques, schools and the beautiful villas of the wealthy. The practice then spread throughout Moorish Spain a North Africa.    
Zellije is a local clay mixed with water and then kneaded into clay. Moulded into small rectangular slabs they are dried in the sun, coated with different colored glazes and fired.
Motifs and patterns are then drawn on a large sheet of paper. The individual colors are carefully numbered and cut out. The patterns are then laid on tiles of the same color and they are cut out. The edges are smoothed and the tiles sorted out. The Maallem, master craftsman, lays out the patterns on a soft plaster surface, the outlines are retraced with the point of a knife and the original tiles inserted. The block is then covered with wooden boards and worked into the structure once it's perfectly dry.

The end results is a montage of tiles in an endless array of colors and shapes with intricate effects that dazzle the eye with the complexity of its abstract patterns.
Zillihe is also known in the Moorish kingdoms of Spain, where it flourished, as azuléjos. It takes a Maallem,  years to learn this complex beautiful craft.
The Moroccan government has helped preserve this tradition by actively commissioning zillige makers to decorate public buildings, mosques and ministerial and royal buildings.

viewed in : http://www.e-mosaik.com
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