Tile panel with fantastical animals


Museo de Artes y Costumbres Populares de Sevilla

Museo de Artes y Costumbres Populares de Sevilla

Panel of four tiles of flat dry cord that form lacework patterns leaving octagonal central frames holding fantastic animals. The colours used are white for the bows, green, blue, black and honey for the backgrounds and figurative motifs.

The cuerda seca (dry cord) technique has its roots in the Islamic period and apparently in the caliphal period partial dry cord was already being used to decorate pieces made on the potter's wheel. In Seville, the application of this technique may be linked with the appearance of the first glazed tiles, in the modern sense, which replaced traditional Islamic tiling (of cutting and arranging previously coloured tiles), which because of gradual shortage of builders made their price overly expensive. The decline of this technique occurred in the mid-16th century with the definitive establishment of Renaissance, the innovations brought by Francisco Niculoso Pisano, and, especially, the skill of the arista technique, which is an evolution of grooved dry cord. In the 19th century, as a result of the revivalist movement this technique was recovered.

The process consists of decorating the ceramic with a drawing that can be applied on the surface with the imprint from a mould and then consolidated with a brush or directly outlined with a brush. This drawing is made with a greasy substance mixed with manganese oxide and creates delimited surfaces that are filled with other oxides to produce the colour decoration.

Two techniques can be distinguished: partial dry cord and total dry cord depending on whether all the surface of the piece is decorated or just part of it. Total dry cord is the most usual method for tiles and it consists of different technical procedures: flat dry cord, grooved dry cord and reinforced dry cord.

Flat or brushed dry cord was used to decorate this tile which is the first to appear, given that it was already used for hand-moulded pieces and gives creative freedom making it one with the greatest possibilities for painting. Coinciding with the consolidation of figurative art produced in the early 16th century, this fact made it easier for tiles to be influenced by late medieval Gothic repertories and by heraldic themes, as occurs here with the representation of fantastical animals from classical tradition which were commonly used in Gothic imaginary. Thanks to this technique, this tile perfectly exemplifies the eclectic mudéjar spirit, since the figurative representation of Christian art merges with the lacework typical of Islamic culture.

Show lessRead more


  • Title: Tile panel with fantastical animals
  • Date Created: 1476/1525
  • Location: Seville
  • Physical Dimensions: 32,2 x 32,2 x 2,5 cm
  • Type: Plinth decoration
  • Medium: Hand-painted flat tile, fired and glazed


Translate with Google