Polychrome ceramics, artistic diagnosis and resulting ambiances in a Marinid Mosque, Algeria

Meriem Benkhedda, Kheira Tabet Aoul


The study and research described in this paper aims to reveal the unexplored aesthetical role of colors used for the ceramics in a mosque from the Marinid dynasty in Tlemcen, Algeria. The methodological approach consists firstly, of a formal analysis of the mosque’s artwork by describing its elements and composition and related principles.

Secondly, the patterns and geometries are analyzed in-depth using artistic color concepts and laws of color contrast. The analysis demonstrates that the contrasts between bright, pure and dynamic colors provide luminosity, dynamism, rhythm, brightness and an optical mix. The color contrasts are also found to provide visual illusions of mass, volume or movement, as well as depth and relief that ultimately result in influencing the overall ambience of the mosque. The study thus enables the chromatic authenticity of this architectural heritage to be preserved by providing the necessary data for potential conservation, as well as providing a basis for innovative principles in expressing contemporary architecture.


Ambiance; ceramic; color; Marinid heritage

Full Text:

PDF (English)


Dragana, V. and Igor, M. (2011). Colour in the City: principles of nature-climate, Characteristics, Architecture and Civil Engineering. Facta Universitatis, 9 (2), pp. 315-323.

Oulebsir, N. (1994). La découverte des monuments de l’Algérie, les missions d’Amable Ravoisié et d’Edmond Duthoit (1840-1880). Figures de l’orientalisme en architecture. Revue des mondes musulmans et de la Méditerranée: 73-74), pp. 57-76.

Oulebsir, N. (2004). Les usages du patrimoine, monuments, musées et politique coloniale en Algérie (1830, 1930). Paris: Maison des Sciences et de l’Honneur.

Kouma, A. and Nafa, C. (2003). L’Algérie et son patrimoine. Paris: Editions du patrimoine.

Marçais, G. and Marçais, W. (1903). Les monuments arabes de Tlemcen. Paris: Albert Fontemoing.

Marçais, G. (2003). Les villes d’art célèbres. (R. d. 1950, Éd.) Blida: Editions du tell.

Bourouiba, R. (1981). L’art religieux musulman en Algérie. 2nd ed. Alger: SNED.

Guichard, P. (1991). Les Etats musulmans du Maghreb. In : Maghreb Médiéval. Aix en Province: Edisud, pp. 79-225.

Degeorges, G. and Porter, I. (2001). L’art de la Céramique dans l’architecture musulmane. Paris: Flammarion.

Delius, P. and Hattstein, M. (2004). L’Islam Arts et Civilisations. Paris: Ullmann.

Renan, A. (1892). Les Arts arabes dans le Maghreb, Tlemcen. Gazette des Beaux-Arts, pp. 383-401.

Barges, J. J. (1887). Complément de l’Histoire des Beni-Zaiyan Rois de Tlemcen. Paris: Ernest Leroux.

Blair, S., and Bloom, J. (2011). And Diverse Are Their Hues: Color in Islamic art and culture. New Haven and London: Yale University Press.

Leger, F. (1997). Fonctions de la peinture. Paris: Editions Gallimard.

Burckhardt, T. (1985). L’art de l’Islam, langage et signification. Paris: Editions Sindbad.

Clevenot, D. and Degeorge, G. (2000). Décor d’Islam. Paris: Citadelle et Mazenod.

Stierlin, H. (2005). L’art de l’Islam en Méditerranée, d’Istanbul à Cordoue. Paris: Gründ.

Paccard, A. (1981). Le Maroc et l’artisanat traditionnel islamique dans l’architecture. Vol. 1. Annecy: Atelier 74.

Barnet, S. (2008). A Short Guide to Writing about Art. 9th ed. New Jersey: Pearson, Prentice Hall.

Itten, J. (1961). The Art of Color. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold Company.

Goethe, J. W. (1840). Theory of Colors. London: John Murray.

Banks, A. and Fraser, T. (2004). Designer’s Color Manuel: The Complete Guide to Color Theory and Application. Chicago: Chronicle Books.

Chalavous, R. (1997). Le nouvel outil des couleurs. Paris: Désiris.

Barges, J. J. L (1859). Souvenir d’un voyage à Tlemcen. Paris: Benjamin Duprat & Challamel Ainé.

Bendaoud, T. (2011). Tlemcen, Ville d’Art et d’histoire. Alger: Atoucha.

Katz, D. (1935). The World of Colour. London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner & Co Ltd.

Servantie, M.P. (2007). Chromo-Architecture, l’art de construire en couleurs. Paris: Alternatives.

Hornung, D. (2005). Colour: A Workshop for Artists ans Designers. London: Laurence King Publishing Ltd.

Albers, J. (1963). Interaction of color. New Haven: Yale University press.

Portillo, M. (2009). Color Planning for Interiors: an Integrated Approach to Color In Designed Spaces. New Jersey: Hoboken John Wiley & Sons.

Martínez de Castilla, N. (2010). Documentos y manuscritos árabes del occidente musulmán medieval, Coleccion QVCTVS. Vol. 2. Madrid: Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Cientificas CSIC.

Bloom, J. (1989). Minaret: Symbol of Islam (Oxford Studies in Islamic Art VII). Oxford: Oxford University Press .

Ringgenberg, P. (2009). L’univers symbolique des arts islamiques. Paris: L’Harmattan.

DOI: 10.6092/issn.1973-9494/7937


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Copyright (c) 2017 Meriem Benkhedda, Kheira Tabet Aoul

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.