Weaving in clay – square tile Zillij

Tile decoration of mosques always looks like a carpet for me.  Painted with biomorphic design tiles symbolise Paradise. Square tile pieces, usually small, when put toghether form a patterm that remind me of rugs, or kilims.  Being fasinated with the decoration of Darb-e-Imam Shrine in Isfahan (Iran) build in 15th century I made a copy of it.

Usage of carpets and rugs in everyday life and for decoration goes back to pre-historical times. Rich tile decoration of mosques is the reflection of the same tradition. Putting carpets on walls of buildings is very unpractical so people invented the splendid architectural substitute for textiles – tilework. It is interesting that even the motifs of kilims and tilework decorations are similar – a square made of squares. The rhomb or square is very often used in weaving and tile patterns. Rhomb or square is basically the symbol of profane, which is opposite to circle, representing Divine. The Square as a figure has two equivalents – the number of four and the cross. Number four was always a symbol of the four parts of the world – North, South, West and East, and of the four elements – Fire, Water, Earth and Air. A number of nations saw the cross as the symbol of life and at the same time, death.

Traditionally, natural dyes from plants, fruits, vegetables and insects were used for colouring textiles. I made some experiments dying pre-fired clay with natural dyes. I also soaked tile pieces in a strong tea solution to make them look ‘raw’ and to contrast with shiny glazes. As a result my tile carpet looks like a piece of jewellery.

Another brown-white zillij piece is my experiment with shades. Insriration comes from the rich brick decoration of Hakkim mosque (Isfahan, Iran). Brown tile pieces are painted with wainut ink. There is no grout, gaps between tiles are dyed with walnut ink as well.

P.S. If you want to use materials from this post, acknowledge use, please. Thanks!

Zillij piece. Copy of Darb-e-Imam Shrine, (Isfahan, Iran) wall panel. Marina Alin

Zillij piece. Copy of Darb-e-Imam Shrine, (Isfahan, Iran) wall panel. Marina Alin

 

Darb-e-Imam Shrine, Isfahan, Iran

Darb-e-Imam Shrine, Isfahan, Iran

Darb-e-Imam Shrine, Isfahan, Iran

Darb-e-Imam Shrine, Isfahan, Iran

zillij piece

Zillij shapes and moulds
Zillij shapes and moulds
Painting pre-fired clay and filling gaps with walnut ink

Painting pre-fired clay and filling gaps with walnut ink

 

Madar-i-Shah Madrasa, Isfahan, Iran
Madar-i-Shah Madrasa, Isfahan, Iran
Hakim mosque, Isfahan, Iran

Hakim mosque, Isfahan, Iran

 

Iranian rug, photo from the book “Persian Kilims” by A.Hull, N.Barnard
Iranian rug, photo from the book “Persian Kilims” by A.Hull, N.Barnard
Iranian rug, photo from the book “Persian Kilims” by A.Hull, N.Barnard

Iranian rug, photo from the book “Persian Kilims” by A.Hull, N.Barnard

 

Natural dyes
Natural dyes
    Pre-fired tiles soaked in natural dyes

Pre-fired tiles soaked in natural dyes

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