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Zellij is the use of hand-cut tiles to produce complex geometric mosaics.It is based on symmetry, tessellations and repetitive geometric patterns. Zellij appeared in Morocco in the 10th century, gaining popularity in the Merinid dynasty. Today it is used to decorate fountains, walls, stairs and floors. With the increase in traditionally decorated riads, there is today a thriving industry in zellij.
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1. A wall adorned with ealligraphy and zellij. The Saadien Tombs in Marrakesh are very elaborately decorated including zellij or tiled mosaics.
2. Cat in front of a mosaic tiled wall. Zellij or tile work is a feature of the craftmanship throughout Morocco. Here a cat basks in the sunshine in front of a zellij-adorned wall.
3. Detailled mosaic tile work. Zellij or tile work is a feature of the craftmanship at the Mohammed V Mausoleum in Rabat, Morocco. This example is a fountain but zellij can also be found on walls and floors.
4. Alhambra zellij or mosaic tiling. Known as the best example of Moorish architecture to be seen today, the Alhambra was home to the Moorish rulers of southern Spain in the 14th and 15th centuries. It is a vast palace and fort complex strategically located on a hill-top promontory overlooking the Darro River and present day Granada, that was declared a national monument in 1870.
5. Moroccan courtyard fountain. A courtyard fountain at Riad Tafilalet in Fes, Morocco. Note the zellij or mosaic of tiles on the floor.
6. Alhambra zellij or mosaic tiling. Known as the best example of Moorish architecture to be seen today, the Alhambra was home to the Moorish rulers of southern Spain in the 14th and 15th centuries. This vast palace features zellij or mosaic tiling as a wall decoration.
7. Mosaic tiling or Zellij. Originally a Moorish fort built by the Almohades, the Alcazar of Seville continues to be a palace for the monarchs up until the present time. It contains a mixture of architectural styles including Moorish, Italian Renaissance and mudejar. Salon de Embajadores or Ambassadors Room is one of the most spectacular sections.
8. Saadien Tombs, Marrakesh. In Morocco, the Saadien Tombs lay forgotten behind a mosque in Marrakesh for nearly 500 years and we only rediscovered in 1917.
9. Moroccan fountain and tiling. Moroccan fountain with surrounding zellij (mosaic tiling) at the Batha Museum, Fes.
10. Tiled mosaic stars. Zellij or a mosaic of small tile pieces in an intricate star design at the Ensemble Artisanal in Marrakesh.
11. A Moroccan woman getting water from a fountain. Here a woman is getting water from a traditional Moroccan fountain, adorned with zellij or tiled mosaics and stucco, carved plasterwork.
12. The mosaic of fountain tiling in close up. Morocco is well known for its use of hand-cut small tiles to produce complex geometrical mosaics called zellij. This example is part of a fountain in Morocco's capital, Rabat.
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