The Ultimate Guide to Zellige Moroccan Tiles

The Ultimate Guide to Zellig Moroccan Tiles


The Islamic Golden Age was a period of cultural, economic, and scientific advancement that spanned from the 8th to the 13th century CE. During this time, the Islamic world experienced a significant cultural renaissance, marked by advances in various fields, including mathematics, astronomy, medicine, and art.

Morocco, in particular, was at the center of this cultural renaissance, and it was during this time that the art of zellige began to take shape. The Almoravid and Almohad dynasties, which ruled over Morocco during this period, were known for their patronage of the arts, and they played a significant role in the development of zellige.

Zellige is a type of Moroccan Mosaic tilework that is characterized by its intricate geometric patterns and vibrant colors. The tiles are made up of small, individually cut and glazed pieces that are arranged in specific patterns to create a larger image or design. The art form evolved over time, with new techniques and styles emerging.

By the 16th century, Moroccan zellige had become a sophisticated art form that was highly prized by collectors and connoisseurs. The tiles became more intricate, with the use of smaller and more finely cut pieces, as well as the introduction of new glazing techniques that allowed for a wider range of colors and patterns.

The popularity of Moroccan Tiles continued to grow throughout the centuries, and it remains an important part of Morocco's cultural heritage to this day. The art form has influenced many other styles of ceramic tilework around the world, and it continues to inspire contemporary artists and designers.

What is a Zellige tile anyway?!

Moroccan Tile


Moroccan tiles are made from natural clay and are handcrafted into the intricate designs that make them so recognizable. These tiles are often square or rectangular in shape, and they are made by shaping the clay into small pieces, firing it, and then glazing it. The final result is a beautiful and unique tile that adds character and charm to any room.

What Design Style is Moroccan?

Moroccan architecture is known for its unique blend of various design styles, including Islamic, Arabic, Andalusian, and Berber designs. The design elements in Moroccan architecture are a reflection of the country's diverse cultural influences.

One of the most prominent design elements in Moroccan architecture is zellige. Zellige is a form of elaborate tilework that is made up of small, hand-cut tiles. The tiles are arranged in intricate geometric patterns and come in a wide range of colors.

Another essential design element in Moroccan architecture is the use of stucco plasterwork. Stucco plasterwork is a type of decorative plasterwork that is used to cover walls, ceilings, and other surfaces. It is usually carved into intricate designs, such as floral and geometric patterns.

The horseshoe arch is another prominent design element in Moroccan architecture. The arch is a signature element of Islamic architecture and can be found in various structures, such as mosques, madrasas, and palaces.

The Origin and Meaning Behind Moroccan Tiles

The intricate geometric patterns found in Moroccan tiles have a rich symbolic meaning that is deeply rooted in Islamic culture and history. The most common pattern found in Moroccan tiles is the eight-pointed star, which represents the balance between heaven and earth. Other common patterns include the quatrefoil, which represents the four elements, and the interlocking diamond, which symbolizes the interconnectivity of all things.

Uncovering the Symbolism Behind Iconic Moroccan Tile Patterns and The Story behind making Tile as anti boring homes

The symbolism of Moroccan tiles extends beyond their geometric patterns. These tiles are also prized for their vibrant colors, which are often inspired by the natural landscapes of Morocco. The use of bold and bright colors in Moroccan tilework is thought to reflect the joyful and lively nature of Moroccan culture.

In addition to their aesthetic beauty, Moroccan tiles also have a practical purpose. In Morocco, where the climate is hot and dry, tiles are used to keep homes and buildings cool by reflecting sunlight and reducing heat absorption. This practical use has led to a longstanding tradition of using tilework in Moroccan architecture and design.

Characteristics of Zellige Moroccan tiles:

Moroccan Tiles

Zellige tiles are known for their unique texture and natural variations in color. The handcrafted nature of these tiles means that no two are exactly alike, and this adds to their charm and character. Zellige tiles are also durable and long-lasting, making them a great choice for both interior and exterior use.

Where to see Moroccan tiles?

Moroccan Tiles

Moroccan Zellige tiles can be seen in a variety of different places, including traditional riads, palaces, and mosques. In Morocco, the city of Fez is known for its beautiful Zellige tile work, and it's a great place to see these tiles in person. However, Zellige tiles can also be found in other parts of Morocco, as well as in homes and buildings around the world.


  1. Ben Youssef Madrasa, Marrakech: This 14th-century Islamic college is known for its stunning architecture and intricate tilework. The courtyard is adorned with colorful zellige tiles, and the walls feature intricate stucco carvings.

  2. Hassan II Mosque, Casablanca: This mosque is one of the largest in the world and features an impressive array of traditional Moroccan tilework. The walls, floors, and ceilings are covered in intricate geometric designs and vibrant colors.

  3. Dar Si Said Museum, Marrakech: This museum is home to a collection of traditional Moroccan crafts, including pottery, textiles, and, of course, tilework. The building itself is a beautiful example of traditional Moroccan architecture, with a courtyard covered in zellige tiles.

  4. Bahia Palace, Marrakech: This 19th-century palace is a masterpiece of Moroccan architecture, with stunning gardens and ornate tilework throughout. The main courtyard is covered in colorful zellige tiles, and the walls feature intricate stucco carvings.

  5. Riads : are also known for their intricate and beautiful Moroccan tilework. Riads are traditional Moroccan houses built around a central courtyard or garden, and they often feature stunning examples of zellige tilework.

    Many riads in Morocco have been restored and converted into guesthouses or boutique hotels, offering visitors the opportunity to stay in a beautiful and authentic Moroccan setting. These riads often showcase the best of Moroccan design and architecture, including stunning examples of zellige tilework.


Production method of Moroccan Tile


is a highly specialized and intricate process that has been handed down through generations of Moroccan craftsmen. The process is a mix of science and art, requiring knowledge of geometry, chemistry, and color theory, as well as skill and creativity.

The first step in the production of Moroccan tiles is the selection of the raw materials. The two main components of zellige are clay and glaze, and the quality of these materials is critical to the quality of the final product. The clay must be finely ground and free of impurities, and the glaze must be able to withstand the high temperatures of the firing process.

Once the materials have been selected, the clay is molded into small, square tiles by hand or using a wooden press. The tiles are then left to dry in the sun for several days.

Next, the tiles are arranged into the desired pattern on a wooden board. The pattern is drawn on the board using a compass and straightedge, and each tile is carefully placed according to the design.

Once the pattern has been assembled, the tiles are coated with a layer of glaze. The glaze is made from a mixture of silica, feldspar, and metal oxides, which create the vibrant colors and glossy finish of zellige. The glaze is applied using a brush or spray gun, and the tiles are left to dry for several days.

After the glaze has dried, the tiles are fired in a kiln at a temperature of around 900 degrees Celsius. The firing process is essential to the production of Moroccan tiles, as it fuses the glaze to the clay, creating a durable and long-lasting product. The firing process also affects the final color of the tiles, with different temperatures producing different shades of the same color.

Once the tiles have been fired, they are carefully removed from the kiln and inspected for quality. Any tiles with cracks or defects are discarded, while the remaining tiles are ready to be installed.

The production of Moroccan tiles is a labor-intensive and time-consuming process, but the result is a unique and beautiful product that has been prized for centuries. Today, the traditional methods of production are still used by many Moroccan craftsmen, while modern techniques and technologies are also being employed to create new and innovative designs.

Colors of MoroccanTile Zellige

Moroccal Tiles

The color options for Zellige tiles are truly diverse and offer a wide range of choices. From classic white, to bold black, striking red, serene green, and calming blue, you are bound to find a color that perfectly complements your style and design aesthetic. The reason for this vast array of color options is due to the natural variations in the clay and the unique glazing process that each tile undergoes. These variations result in a range of different colors and textures, making each tile one-of-a-kind and truly unique. With the use of Moroccan tile, you can add depth and character to your home, creating a warm and inviting atmosphere. Whether you prefer classic, neutral shades or bold and vibrant hues, the choice is yours.

What sizes and finishes do Zellige tiles come in?

Moroccan Tiles Production

Zellige tiles typically come in square or rectangular shapes, and they can be found in a variety of different sizes. The tiles can be finished in a glossy or matte finish, depending on your personal preference. Some people prefer the glossy finish because it makes the tiles more slip-resistant, while others prefer the matte finish because it gives the tiles a more traditional look.

Types of Moroccan TIle Zellige:

Type of Moroccan Tile Zellij

Zellige tiles come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and finishes, but the most traditional and iconic shape is the square. Square zellige can range from small, 1 inch mosaics to large, 12 inch tiles. Each size of zellige tile creates a different visual effect and can be used in various design applications.

From Clay to Mosaics – How Moroccan Mosaics are Made:

The process of creating zellige tiles starts with sourcing the right type of clay. This clay is then molded and shaped into the desired size and shape of the tile. The raw tile is then dried and baked in a kiln to harden it. Once the tile is cooled, it is then glazed and fired a second time to give it its smooth and glossy finish.


How Modern Designers are Reimagining Traditional Moroccan Tilework

Moroccan tiles, with their intricate geometric patterns and vibrant colors, have been an important part of the country's cultural heritage for centuries. Today, designers around the world are reimagining this traditional art form in new and innovative ways, blending traditional techniques and styles with modern design principles.

One way that modern designers are reimagining Moroccan tilework is by incorporating it into contemporary architectural and interior design projects. Moroccan tiles can add a sense of vibrancy and depth to modern spaces, creating a sense of history and culture while still feeling fresh and contemporary.

Another way that designers are reimagining Moroccan tilework is by experimenting with new techniques and materials. For example, some designers are using 3D printing technology to create intricate tile designs that would be difficult or impossible to achieve using traditional techniques. Others are experimenting with new materials, such as recycled glass or reclaimed wood, to create unique and sustainable tile designs.

Where to Buy Authentic Vintage & Antique Moroccan Tiles?

For those looking to incorporate authentic Moroccan tiles into their design projects, there are a number of options available. One option is to purchase vintage or antique tiles from Moroccan dealers or antique shops. These tiles can add a sense of history and character to a space, and they are often one-of-a-kind.

Another option is to purchase new tiles from Moroccan manufacturers or retailers. Many of these companies specialize in traditional Moroccan tilework, and they offer a wide range of colors, patterns, and styles to choose from.

Finally, for those who are unable to travel to Morocco, there are many online retailers that offer authentic Moroccan tiles. It's important to do your research and choose a reputable retailer to ensure that you are getting a high-quality product.

Can I Put Moroccan Tile in Every Style of Home?

Zellige tiles can complement many different styles of home décor, from modern to traditional. The beauty of zellige is its versatility and ability to adapt to any design style. Whether you want a bold, colorful statement or a more muted, understated look, Moroccan tiles can fit the bill. Whether you want to create a classic Moroccan-style bathroom, a modern kitchen backsplash, or an accent wall in your living room, Moroccan zellige tile can help you achieve the look you want.


In conclusion, Moroccan zellige tiles offer a unique, timeless beauty that can be a great addition to any home. From their rich history to the wide range of colors and sizes available, zellige tiles are a versatile and timeless choice that can complement many different design styles. Whether you're starting a new home renovation project or simply looking for a way to add some character and charm to your home, consider incorporating zellige tiles into your design plan.