The Beautifully Complex Art of Moroccan Mosaics

Moroccan Mosaic 1Photo: aworkpl

It’s an art form, a craft, a tradition, a discipline, a form of worship. Handed down from generation to generation, the beautiful and unique art of Islamic tile mosaics (or kellij) encompasses so many facets of both the practical and spiritual. Recently, scholars not just of art but such diverse fields as mathematics, engineering and computer science have begun to study the complicated patterns and designs of kellij.

“It’s absolutely stunning,” Harvard’s Peter Lu, a physicist, said in an interview. “They made tilings that reflect mathematics that were so sophisticated that we didn’t figure it out until the last 20 or 30 years,” he marveled.

Mosaic CeilingPhoto: aworkpl

Some of the world’s most amazing examples of kellij can be found in Morocco. Inspired by Roman mosaics, Moroccan artisans began creating their own versions of the tiled patterns as far back as the 11th century. They began simple, with earthy shades of brown and white, but over the centuries expanded their palette to include reds, yellows, greens, blues and now more modern colours like turquoise and rose. Their striking designs can be seen covering the water fountains, interior walls, mosques and tombs of Morocco where the craft is very much alive today.

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