Corda-seca tiles with a “cock’s foot” motif

Unknown15th-16th century -

National Palace of Sintra

National Palace of Sintra
Sintra, Portugal

Wall covering of the Central Courtyard at the National Palace of Sintra, from where there is an impressive view over the monumental chimneys of the mediaeval kitchen. The corda-seca technique consisted of isolating the areas to be painted by cutting out grooves of varying depths that were then filled with a fatty substance – including linseed oil, manganese and fat. This prevented the colours from becoming mixed together during their application and firing.


  • Title: Corda-seca tiles with a “cock’s foot” motif
  • Creator: Unknown
  • Date: 15th-16th century -
  • Location: Iberian Peninsula
  • Rights Information: National Palace of Sintra
  • Photo: Escola Profissional de Imagem (EPI)-Curso de Fotografia/Joana Rodrigues/Marina Ramos, 2009.
  • Original Title (portuguese): Azulejos corda-seca com motivo de “pé de galo”
  • Material(s) / Technique(s): Glazed clay / Corda-seca with enamels
  • Image Rights: © Palácio Nacional de Sintra / PSML
  • Hispano-Moresque Tiles: The interior walls of the National Palace of Sintra are lined with Europe’s largest set of Mudejar tiles still in place today, most of which originate from Seville, although one should not exclude the (as yet still unconfirmed) possibility that many of the tiles were produced locally with the use of imported labour. Mudejar tiles were brought to Portugal with the arrival of Arab culture in the Iberian Peninsula, incorporating new ceramic techniques and decorative styles. This influence continued even after the Christian reconquest of the territory in the 12th century, later giving rise, in the 15th and 16th centuries, to the appearance of various types of tiles and the use of different techniques that reflected the evolution of decorative styles – alicatado, corda-seca, aresta, esgrafitado (sgraffito) and relevado (relief work). Visitors to the palace can therefore enjoy a unique experience, since they are afforded an overall view of this heritage in Portugal – a specific form of decorative coverings for walls and floors, involving the use of exclusive patterns, such as the motif of the armillary sphere or relief tiles.
  • Type: Ceramics, Tiles

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