About a Certain Zellij Pattern

There’s a Moroccan zellij pattern that I get drawn to over and over. Whenever it pops up on a website or Pinterest, little pattern antennae in my brain start quivering around happily. Why? Who knows. Is there a test that will tell you something about yourself if you like one pattern more than another? Like the visual pattern equivalent of Myers-Briggs? If there isn’t such a test, maybe I should create one? The Zellij Test.

Zellij (also spelled zellige) is a type of tile pattern in Morocco and it comes in lots of geometric patterns. Some circular. Some starry looking. Some striped. Some are squares and rectangles. If you’ve seen photos of colorful geometric ceramic tile patterns in Morocco, you’ve seen zellij. It takes both a patient artist and a precise mathematical genius to create these patterns.

The pattern I most appreciate for some mysterious reason is this one, with the squares and eight-point stars:

Moroccan Zellij Pattern

Those are often-photographed ceramic tiles in Fez, Morocco.

Here it’s on the lower half of a wall in a post about Moroccan zellij tiles on Sandra Espinet’s blog about well-traveled style:

Moroccan Zellij Tile via Sandra Espinet Blog

Here’s a very similar pattern in the Phulkari Embroidered Mini Shift Dress from Free People:

Free People Phulkari Embroidered Mini Shift Dress

That dress is great inspiration for colors to use with this zellij pattern too.

A similar pattern with squares instead of the eight-point star is in the background of this image from Marie Claire:

Marie Claire

If you like this zellij pattern too, you can paint it on things yourself! It’s available in the Star Diamonds Moroccan stencil from Royal Design Studio:

Star Diamonds Stencil

It’s available in two sizes and I own both, as I purchased them a few years ago for a wall in the master bedroom of our apartment in Chennai, India. This is the inspiration photo (from Vogue Living in Australia) and while I will take this inspiration and make it unique, I love it down to the tall columns flanking a low bed. Every time I see chippy painted wood columns with cement capitals in India, I see them in a scene like this in our apartment there:

Vogue Living Inspiration Photo

If this has piqued your interest in zellij, here’s a good article from Ceramics Today about zellij tile in Morocco.

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