The ceramic tiles of the East: The Azujelo tiles in different countries
The ceramic tiles, which we now associate with the Central European flair, came to Europe from the Arabs. Her story goes back much further into the past. The name Azulejo, which is widespread in Spain and Portugal, is a derivative of the Arabic “zuleija”. Translated, this name means “little stones”.
From the Arabs the technique became the application of non-transparent glaze. Based on this technique, a specific white color was created, which made the execution of the complicated ornaments possible. The surface of these tiles shows a strong relief. The inequalities form entanglements, which make the flow of water practically impossible. Furthermore, a very thin top layer of metal oxide has been applied. This gave the ceramic tiles a very noble, shiny surface.
To make such tiles, some strict religious rules have been bypassed. In the Arab world, it was forbidden to use gold or silver serving dishes.
In the Arabian canon, it was also forbidden to depict animals and humans alive. For this reason intricate ornaments and arabesques were represented.
The glazed ceramic tiles are probably one of the reasons why the arabesques are so common outside of the Arab world. They represent compositions of stylized plant motifs. Each composition was always distributed evenly and symmetrically on the tile.
Azulejos ceramic tiles in Spain
At the beginning of the 18th century, Spain was subjected to Arab attacks. Not only danger, but also a great culture came to Europe. At this time begins the history of ceramic tiles with opaque glazed surface and delicate paintings on the old continent.
Derived from the Arabic word “zuleija”, this type of tile was called “azujelo”. The Spaniards were based on Arabic technology, but have also developed their own techniques on this basis.
We have a tradition that uniquely combines Arabian technology and European tradition.
At the end of the 15th century, fine Arabic writing on pottery changed its meaning. It was developed for decoration with a religious and applied character.
The Spanish tiles differed from their Arab models also in terms of colors. The Spanish Azulejo tiles are dominated mainly by the blue color, while the Arabic ones are executed in bold ornaments.
The development of the Italian technique of Azulejo tiles has been further developed on this basis in Italy.
The Azulejo ceramic tiles in Portugal
After Portugal came the ceramic tiles of the Azulejos type in the 15th century. Joao II has commissioned the import of role models from Arab countries to his country. It was an expensive treat, but that does not seem to bother the ruler. Because his fascination with this art was really great.
In the 16th century, decorating facades with this kind of ceramic tiles has already become a tradition. Four colors were used at that time: white, yellow, light blue and green.
In the 17th century, white-blue tiles were already imported. They come from Holland, and even more specifically from the city of Delft. At that time, the colorful ceramic tiles dominated, and the white-and-blue variation remained.
The golden era of Azulejo tiles in Portugal can be described as the 18th century. In 1755 there was a very strong earthquake in Lisbon. The larger part of the city was destroyed. In the restoration of the city many ceramic tiles were used. At that time, their own production started and imports from Arab countries were no longer necessary.
Even today, the application of these ceramic tiles is in great demand
The arabesques are compositions of stylized plant motifs
The Spaniards started from Arab technology
A modern idea with a touch of the Orient
A great accent for the kitchen
In Spain, this kind of tile was called “azujelo”
Artful and modern bathroom
How to live in the palace!
Each composition was always evenly and symmetrically distributed on the tile
The Portuguese tiles were executed in four colors
The Arabic tiles are executed in bold ornaments
The Spanish tiles differed in color
In Portugal, the fascination for this art was really great