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Floor tile

Floor tile

  • Place of origin:

    Seville (made)

  • Date:

    ca.1542-1590 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Earthenware, moulded in relief, with honey-brown, blue and white glazes

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

This tile came from the Alhambra, the fortified palatine city of the Nasrid kingdom, built on a hill overlooking Granada in the south of Spain. Such tiles were used to decorate the palace floors, though today few remain in place. Made in the 16th century, this tile was probably produced to replace earlier similarly decorated tiles during repairs carried out under the Emperor Charles V.

Physical description

Earthenware floor tile, decorated using the cuenca (or arista) technique, with honey-brown, blue and white glazes. The pattern forms an interlace design around a central shield, containing the legend in Arabic, 'There is no conqueror but God'. The form of the tile is that of a square, the corners of which are replaced by a quarter-circular space, allowing for the laying of a smaller circular tile between each four large tiles.

Place of Origin

Seville (made)


ca.1542-1590 (made)



Materials and Techniques

Earthenware, moulded in relief, with honey-brown, blue and white glazes

Marks and inscriptions

'There is no conqueror but God'


Width: 20.2 cm maximum, Depth: 3.8 cm, Height: 21.0 cm maximum

Object history note

From the Alhambra, Granada. Apparently such tiles were widely used there, though only a small area now survives. The armorial shields represent an interesting use of a European device by the Nasrid Sultans. These bear the legend in Arabic, 'There is no conqueror but God', a motto adopted by Muhammed ben-el Ahmar ca. 1250. The original tiles of this type date from the 14th century, and are decorated in blue and lustre on a tin glaze. This tile is decorated in the cuenca technique, and dates from the 16th century. It was likely produced as a replacement for earlier tiles, during palace repairs. According to Ray (2000), payments for tiles for the Alhmabra were made to Juan Pulido between 1542-44, and in 1590, Gaspar Hernández was commissioned to make tiles with the Nasrid inscription. This tile may relate to one or other of these commissions.

Descriptive line

Tin-glazed earthenware, replacement, in the cuenca technique, with arms of the Nasrid rulers of Granada, for painted tiles in the Hall of Justice, the Alhambra, Granada. Spanish (probably Seville), first half of 16th century

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Ray, Anthony. Spanish Pottery 1248-1898. London: V&A Publications, 2000, no.906, p367.
Graves, Alun. Tiles and Tilework of Europe. London: Victoria and Albert Museum, 2002, pp44-45.
M. Rosser-Owen. Islamic Arts from Spain (London: V&A Publishing, 2010) p. 102

Subjects depicted



Ceramics; Earthenware; Tiles; Floor coverings


Ceramics Collection

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