Posts Tagged ‘Zelij’

Quick drawing

April 2, 2009

Copied out of Jean Marie Castera’s ‘Arabesques’:


Could do it better if I was using a ruler and not half watching the Apprentice.

The point is – if you are at all interested in the construction and art of zelij, you have to have this book:


Arabesques: Decorative Art in Morocco, by Jean-Marie Castera.

It’s a quite pricey, but worth every single penny.


A Zelij Applet

March 23, 2009

A fellow has created an applet to generate zelij patterns automatically:

I have to say, despite the knowledgeable sounding intro, the patterns generated are not very authentic (at least I couldn’t get anything to look very authentic)

The failing seems to be in the construction of the patterns – I have a book which describes a much better system which if implemented would generate much better patterns (but would this be a bit of a soulless process? Part of the attraction is the effort required and the artistry of the original craftsmen)

Progression of centre star complexity

December 17, 2008

Came across some more photos I took in Marrakesh & Fez.

Column with repeating 8-point star
Am especially impressed with the way the column face is exactly the right width for the design.


Three interwoven 8-point stars in the ‘wicker-work’ style


16 point star
Slightly more elaborate…


64-point star ceiling
Normally the centre star in designs have 8 points; 16 if the designer was in an extravagant mood (see above). However one particular palace had many 32 and 64 point stars. Complexity nearly to the point of absurdity, and actually not as aesthetically pleasing as the simpler designs, in my humble opinion.


Making the tiles

December 12, 2008

Youtube footage of a tile worker laying a tile flooring.
It has a happy ending.

The 17 types of plane symmetry

December 12, 2008

There are 17 types of symmetry which can used to cover a 2 dimensional surface.

Here are some websites that discuss this.

Detailed discussion of computer generated Zelij patterns:

The basic table of symmetries:

From the same website – an example of a pattern from the Al Hambra with p6m symmetry:

The Wikipedia page on rotational symmetry

82 Zelij pics on Flickr. I must add mine…

Dutch artist MC Escher was a master of tiling symmetries
Douglas Hofstadter, ‘Visions of Symmetry’

Tile Generator (design your own replicating tile structure):

Dr Heinrich Heesch identified 28 types of repeating structure

Zelij Extrapolated

December 12, 2008

On the train journey from Marrakesh to Fez, I played around with one particular pattern, adding a layer at each iteration





Drawings made of Zelij tilework

December 12, 2008

 A simple  interlocking open cross.


A slightly more complicated version. Features the 8 point star in the centre, though somewhat distorted.


Repeating 8 point star design.


A very typical zelij pattern


Zelij photographs

December 12, 2008