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“Echoing the history of Portugal, they decorate everything from walls of churches and monasteries to palaces, fountains, railway stations and even ordinary houses. The famous azulejos may not be a Portuguese invention, but in no other country has their use or importance been quite so prominent.
Named after the Arabic word az-zulayj, loosely translated as “polished stone”, the azulejo describes the beautiful glazed tiles (usually in blue and white) that can be seen all across the country, portraying historical events, Christian legends, iconic sites or simply used for street signs and house names and numbers. However, they are not only an ornamental art form; these pretty azulejos also help insulate buildings and protect them from damp, heat and noise, as well as being easy to clean.
It is said that the portuguese were quick to adopt the Moorish tradition of horror vacui (fear of empty spaces) and covered entire walls – inside and out – with azulejos. While the portuguese continued to rely on foreign imports, mostly from Spain but also Antwerp, until the mid-16th century, portuguese tile masters soon began to appear. Drawing inspiration from Renaissance and Mannerist paintings, they began to move away from ornamental decoration and employed human or animal figures in their designs, with blue, yellow, green and white the dominant colours. It was only in the 17th century that the azulejotook on the iconic blue and white as we know it today, a reflection of the period of the Great Discoveries that was influenced by the Ming Dynasty porcelain from China.
Between the 16th and 18th centuries, azulejos were used to make antependia (altar pieces) in churches, with yellow motifs on the border tiles imitating the golden fringe on oriental fabrics, examples of which can be found at the Santa Maria Hospital in Lisbon and Buçaco Palace in central Portugal. Churches, monasteries, palaces and even houses began to be covered inside and out, often with exuberant Baroque designs. Also with large exports to Brazil, the late 17th and early 18th century can be considered the golden age of the portuguese azulejo. Tile painters regained their status as bonafide artists who began signing their works, bringing on the emergence of the so-called Ciclo dos Mestres (Cycle of the Masters). It was also around this time that a new type of azulejo composition emerged and became very much in vogue: the aves e ramagens (birds and branches), influenced by the representations on printed textiles imported from India: animals, birds, flowers and hindu symbols. There was also a shift towards more delicate pastoral themes in Rococo style, an example of which is the Corredor das Mangas at Queluz National Palace, while they later gained a more functional role in the reconstruction of Lisbon following the Great Earthquake of 1755.” www.tasteportugal.com
Characteristics: Microfiber cloths are ideal for cleaning glasses, screens, tablets and mirrored surfaces. 19 x 19cm
Each item of Terra Lusa collections is a reference and a real tribute to Portugal’s cultural and emotional heritage. History, Culture, Art and Heritage, beat timelessly, discovering one again the memories of a country that, without wasting time, sails towards the future.