Museum of Mediterranean and Near Eastern Antiquities (Medelhavsmuseet)
Hegira end of 9th–beginning of 10th century / AD end of 15th–beginning of 16th century
Ceramic, polychrome glaze; Cuenca o arista.
Height 15.0 cm, width 15.0 cm, depth approx. 1.9 cm
Spain, possibly Toledo.
This moulded square tile of a hard yellowish paste shows a geometrical polychrome decoration of pinkish white interlacing bands forming green or pale blue glazed stars and dark brown or tan polygons in cuenca o arista technique. The central motif of the tile is a green eight-pointed star set in the middle of a cross composed of four opaque brown polygons. The latter divides the surface of the tile into four square compartments representing stellar and polygonal shapes. As the four green half-stars and brown half-polygons on the edges show, this tile was part of a repetitive design used in wall decorations.
The cuenca o arista technique imitates tile mosaic. While the pattern of tile mosaic is made by cutting and assembling polychrome glazed tiles, the design of tiles worked in cuenca o arista technique is made by filling small pattern fields formed by thin strips of clay with different glazes. Where the glaze flowed over the frame, the design does not stand out clearly.
The star and cross motif is one of the most common Islamic geometric decorative patterns continued in Mudéjar art.
Moulded square tile with a geometrical polychrome decoration. Interlacing bands form green and pale blue glazed stars and brown polygons. Coloured glazes fill small pattern fields formed by thin strips of clay. This technique is called cuenca o arista and imitates tile mosaic.
Tiles similar in technique and design have been documented in buildings in Toledo dating from the end of the 9th / 15th century and the beginning of the 10th / 16th century, for example, in the monastery of San Clemente.
The tile was purchased by the Museum of Cultural History in Lund, Sweden, from the Forrer collection in Frankfurt am Main, Germany, in 1922.
Tiles similar in technique and design have been documented in buildings in Toledo, for example, in the monastery of San Clemente.
Martínez Caviró, B., Cerámica Hispanomusulmana Andalusi y Mudéjar, Madrid, 1991, 305–25.
Ray, A., Spanish Pottery, 1248–1898, London, 2000.
Terrasse, H., L'Art Hispano-Mauresque, Paris, 1932.
Friederike Voigt "Tile" in Discover Islamic Art, Museum With No Frontiers, 2017. http://www.discoverislamicart.org/database_item.php?id=object;ISL;se;Mus01;15;en
Prepared by: Friederike VoigtFriederike Voigt
Friederike Voigt has an MA in Iranian studies, history of art and social science and is currently working on her doctoral thesis on wall tiles in architectural decoration of Qajar Iran. Since 2004 she has been a project-related curator at the Museum for Mediterranean and Near Eastern Antiquities in Stockholm for Museum With No Frontiers. She studied at Humboldt University in Berlin, at the University of Tehran and archaeology at the University of Halle-Wittenberg. She taught Persian language at several universities in Germany. She was an assistant curator at the Department of Near and Middle Eastern Cultures at the Museum of Ethnology, State Museums of Berlin. Her main fields of interest are the material culture of Iran, especially of the Qajar period, and contemporary Iranian art.
Copyedited by: Monica Allen
MWNF Working Number: SE 16
Islamic Dynasties / Period
On display in
Discover Islamic Art Exhibition(s)Geometric Decoration | Geometric Decoration in Architecture Mudéjar Art | Mudéjar Professions
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