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  • July 29, 2021

History of tiles

Architecture is proof of human’s extraordinary minds. Colossal buildings and monuments built in the different epochs have captivated the beauty of different eras in their magnificent facades, beautiful surfaces, and carvings till present.

Humans, since always left their mark of intelligence, as the history of surface tuile has roots in the soils of the ancient middle east, which later covered walls, roofs, and surfaces of nations and beyond.

Tiles didn’t lose their significance throughout the ages and to date, we walk on the path with the tile surface or feel their touch on the walls. Be it an office, home, or a shrine, we decorate the walls, floors, and tabletops with tiles by keeping the legacy alive and thriving.

Storytelling through Tiles
The word ‘Tile’ is derived from the French word tuile, meaning a roof tile composed of fired clay.

By definition, a tile is a manufactured piece of materials such as ceramic, stone, metal, baked clay, or glass, used for covering roofs, floors, walls, or other objects such as tabletops.

The geometric decorations of glazed bricks on the walls of ancient monuments and palaces have myriad stories to unravel of different epochs.

The ancient Middle East

The oldest record of glazed tile can be found in the Elamite Temple at Chogha Zanbil, which dates from the 13th century BC.

In Mesopotamia, sun-dried bricks were used as the main method of building homes because the river mud was in abundance along the Tigris and Euphrates. The scarcity of stones led to the development of kiln-fired bricks to strengthen the walls of important buildings, such as temples and palaces, made of sun-dried bricks.

Islamic Mosaic

Even though tiles didn’t originate in Islam, they became a quintessential part of the Islamic culture. Such is the beauty of Islamic tile decoration that it didn’t lose its essence in modern architecture.

The patterns and designs on the tiles were a medium of self-expression in the Islamic culture. As a result, Islamic tiles feature motifs and various interlacing patterns on them. Some of the most distinguished designs were geometric patterns, arabseques, calligraphy, and combinations of all the designs.

Interestingly, the different patterns on tiles having certain meanings connotated to them.
For instance, the arabesque is considered the epitome of Islamic art and repetitive geometric patterns signify the infinity of God.

Some of the magnificent architecture that Islam gave the world is Seyyed Mosque in Isfahan, the Dome of Maraqeh, and one of the wonders of the world- Taj Mahal.

Tiles of Europe

Encaustic and painted tiles were popular in Europe, however, as the tiles were expensive they were used by the rich, especially royalty and churches.

In church, tiles were painted to depict scenes from Bible and other religious stories. The 14th century ‘Tring tiles’ in the British Museum is painted with childhood scenes of Life of Christ.

The Industrial Revolution

The industrial revolution bought a new technological transition in the manufacturing of tiles, its focus shifted from producing handmade and hand-painted tiles to mass-produce ceramic tiles.

During this period, tiles became cheaper and even the middle class was able to afford and make use of tiles in their domestic use. In the home, tiles became a part of hallways, washrooms, and even kitchens.

The journey of tiles in the 21st century

Starting the journey in 13th century BC, tiles have successfully reached our homes without breaking in the middle.

In today’s time, decorative ceramic tiles add beauty to our homes, workplaces, swimming pools, and tabletops.

So if you’re planning to build your humble abode under the lofty sky and wish to lay the foundation on such rich history of tiles, you should explore the tiles in the Klay World, which has pioneered the surface industry for the past 40 years and continue to do so.

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