Name of Object:

Zellij panel


Fez, Morocco

Holding Museum:

Batha Museum

Date of Object:

Hegira 13th / AD 19th century

Museum Inventory Number:

C 66

Material(s) / Technique(s):

Small glazed earthenware tiles.


Height 72.7 cm, length 72.7 cm

Period / Dynasty:





This panel of earthenware wall-facing is square shaped. Like all zellij mosaics, it consists of shapes cut into the tiles and assembled. It is decorated exclusively with geometric figures, testir.
The star shape obtained by dividing a circle into equal parts is the dominating form in its design. The repetitive motif that constitutes the basic element of its decoration is made up of polychrome knotwork whose dominant colours are black and turquoise blue on an ivory white base. Starting from the centre and a twelve-pointed star, black-line knotwork forms a rosette surrounded with irregular five-pointed stars by overlapping with other turquoise-blue knotwork. Combining with the second black line, it develops around this rosette to form a square whose corners are marked with eight-pointed stars. Inside the square, a yellow ochre ribbon with serrated edges circumscribes the rosette, while two black and almond green concentric octagons surround the figures in the corners of the square. This complex arrangement, strikingly harmonious both in terms of the geometric motifs and their range of colours, would have required a profound knowledge of geometric figures and their combinations. This extremely fine work is testimony to the invention and technical mastery in the art of zellij-making inherited from Marinid craftsmen.

View Short Description

This panel of wall facing, evidence of the mastery in the art of zellij inherited from the Marinids, consists of an arrangement of shapes cut in the tiles. It is decorated exclusively with geometric figures, with a star shape dominating the pattern.

How date and origin were established:

The inventory register dates the house it came from to the AH 13th / AD 19th century.

How Object was obtained:

Salvaged by the Department of Historical Monuments and deposited with museum in 1945.

How provenance was established:

It was originally from a house in Fez, according to the inventory.

Selected bibliography:

Hedgecoe, J. and Samar Damluji, S., Zillig, L'Art de la céramique marocaine, London, 1993.
Marçais, G., L'architecture musulmane d'Occident, Paris, 1954.
Paccard, A., Le Maroc et l'artisanat traditionnel islamique dans l'architecture, Vol. 1, Paris, 1979.
Terrasse, H. and Hainaut, J., Les arts décoratifs au Maroc, Paris, 1925.
Andalusian Morocco: A Discovery in Living Art, p.232.

Citation of this web page:

Naima El Khatib-Boujibar "Zellij panel" in Discover Islamic Art, Museum With No Frontiers, 2020.;ISL;ma;Mus01_C;31;en

Prepared by: Naima El Khatib-BoujibarNaima El Khatib-Boujibar

Archéologue et historienne de l'art, titulaire d'une licence en lettres (française), N. Elkhatib-Boujibar a également étudié l'archéologie et l'histoire de l'art à l'Institut d'art et d'archéologie de Paris, l'art islamique et la muséologie à l'École du Louvre (Paris), et suivi des cours à l'Institut d'ethnographie de l'Université de Neuchâtel (Suisse). Elle a occupé plusieurs postes de responsabilité, parmi lesquels directrice des Musées et de l'Archéologie, inspectrice générale des Musées et de l'Archéologie, déléguée régionale du ministère de la Culture.
Elle a dirigé un chantier de fouille durant 20 ans et enseigné à l'Institut national marocain des sciences de l'archéologie et du patrimoine (INSAP). Elle a organisé différentes expositions sur le patrimoine marocain, au Maroc comme à l'étranger, et animé des cycles de conférence, dont celui sur l'art islamique à la “Villa des Arts” à Casablanca.
N. El Khatib-Boujibar a publié différents articles sur le patrimoine archéologique, artistique et architectural marocain, mais aussi sur d'autres sites islamiques et sur les arts mobiliers. Elle a également participé à la rédaction du catalogue Musée Sans Frontières Le Maroc andalou, à la rencontre d'un art de vivre.

Copyedited by: Margot Cortez
Translation by: Laurence Nunny
Translation copyedited by: Monica Allen

MWNF Working Number: MO 42


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Islamic Dynasties / Period


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