Name of Object:

Wall tile


Glasgow, Scotland, United Kingdom

Holding Museum:

Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, Glasgow Museums

About Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, Glasgow Museums, Glasgow

Date of Object:

Hegira 9th century / AD 15th century

Museum Inventory Number:


Material(s) / Technique(s):

Glazed fritware with cuerda seca decoration.


10.5 cm x 10.5 cm

Period / Dynasty:

Mudéjar / Nasrid


Toledo, Spain.


A colourful wall tile decorated with a geometric interlace pattern in white, honey-brown, dark-brown, and light copper-green glazes that are separated by unglazed well-defined borders, using a technique known as cuerda seca, meaning 'dry cord' in Spanish; the 'cord' referring to the unglazed borders separating the masses of coloured shapes making up the pattern. The cuerda seca technique involves pressing a patterned mould gently onto the surface of the clay; the outlines and boarders of the pattern are then coated with a mixture of manganese-oxide and grease to prevent the different coloured glazes from running into each other. After completing the application of the greasy substance and the coloured lead-based glazes, the tile is fired. While the coloured glazes fuse themselves to the body of the tile and harden, the greasy mixture burns away leaving a clearly defined unglazed outline, 'cord', round all the compartments that make up the design.

Toledo was re-conquered by the Christians in AH 477 / AD 1085, but Mudéjar geometric designs remained popular, and continued to be made and used decoratively in a number of contexts in both secular and religious architecture right up to the beginning of the 10th century / 16th century.

View Short Description

This colourful wall tile from Toledo is decorated using a technique known as cuerda seca, where the outlines of the embossed pattern are coated in a greasy substance to stop the paints of the different shapes from flowing over each other while being fired in the potter’s kiln.

How date and origin were established:

Artistic analysis: the reddish earthenware body of this tile and its thick multicolour glazing indicate that it was made in the 9th century / 15th century in Toledo, where some similar examples still survive in historical buildings.

How Object was obtained:

Purchased by Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum in 1883.

How provenance was established:

The reddish earthenware body of this tile and its thick multicolour glazing suggest it was produced in Toledo, where some similar examples still survive in historical buildings.

Selected bibliography:

Ray, A., Spanish Pottery 1248–1898, with a catalogue of the collection in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, 2000.

Citation of this web page:

Noorah Al-Gailani "Wall tile" in Discover Islamic Art, Museum With No Frontiers, 2020.;ISL;uk;Mus04;50;en

Prepared by: Noorah Al-GailaniNoorah Al-Gailani

Noorah Al-Gailani is Curator for Islamic Civilisations at Glasgow Museums, Scotland. With a BA in Interior Design from the College of Fine Arts, Baghdad University and three years' experience in design and folk art preservation, she moved to the UK in 1992. On completing her MA in Museum Studies at the Institute of Archaeology, University College London in 1994, she worked as Project Officer at the Grange Museum of Community History documenting the presence of Muslim communities in the London Borough of Brent. In 1995 she was Assistant Curator, Ancient Monuments Laboratory, English Heritage, and in 1996 became Curator for John Wesley's House and the Museum of Methodism in London. She co-authored The Islamic Year: Surahs, Stories and Celebrations (Stroud: Hawthorn Press, 2002) for non-Muslim children. Since 2003 she has been based at The Burrell Collection in Glasgow, working across the city's museums to interpret Islamic art and culture, ancient and modern, through research, exhibitions and educational activities.

Copyedited by: Mandi Gomez

MWNF Working Number: UK4 67


 Artistic Introduction

 Timeline for this item

Islamic Dynasties / Period

Mudejar Art


On display in

Discover Islamic Art Exhibition(s)

Mudéjar Art | Mudéjar Professions

MWNF Galleries


See also


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