Hand-painted terra cotta pottery
Date of entry at UNESCO
Country of origin Morocco
Donating country Morocco
Donation made to UNESCO by Morocco
© Photo: UNESCO/N. Burke
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Although they have different motifs, these three dishes correspond to a specific North African ceramic style. The decoration of these objects generally does not have a naturalistic origins, but is rather based on geometrical models of the Middle East, already used on the majolica dishes during the Renaissance and Hispano-Moresque lustered ceramics during the fifteenth century. This adorns various everyday objects in Morocco, such as plates, bowls, jugs, and oil jars.

A dominance of blue characterizes the pieces during the eighteenth century, later supplanted by emerald green in the following century. The decor of the circular surfaces follows a composition which radiates from a central star-shaped motif, and combines geometrical and plant-like elements. In the central ceramic, architectural details are also taken from oriental arcades (Diour). The floral interlacing and the tulip and carnation motifs reflect a probable Turkish, Chinese or Indian influence. The blue color is due to the use of cobalt, many deposits of which were found around the city of Fez as well as Meknes, Salé and Safi.

We here have clay ceramics made on the wheel in workshops placed under the authority of a master craftsman. The shapes would undergo an initial firing at low temperatures before being immersed in a glaze which made them watertight. After drying, the designs were drawn with a brush usually made of mulehair, and then the color added and fixed thanks to a second firing.

The development of ceramic with a blue monochrome or polychrome decoration applied to an opaque white glaze consisting of an aqueous mixture of tin oxide, lead and sand is currently attributed to the seventeenth century.

Such pieces, most of which were used for food, are, with a few exceptions, neither signed nor dated. Such dishes, whether large or small, are cone-shaped with a small base (Mokhfia), a flat bottom and concave (Tobsil) or hollow edge (gohtar).

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