Post 331 –by Gautam Shah



Al-Hidaya Mosque, Seville, Spain


Mosaic is a surface assemblage of small pieces flat materials. The assemblage could be unintentional or natural, or a designed product. The designed product may reflect a pattern or a form. The image in mosaic emerges through the variations of textures, a tonal gradation within a colour range, multiplicity of colours and their boundaries, differences of surface reflectivity of the material pieces and most importantly through the flow of joints. The image also comes forth from the composition formed by the joints or spaces between the material pieces. The width, depth (or contour) and colour of the joint spaces could be uniform or varied.



Sumerian Cone Mosaic Pergamonmuseum0116

Historically mosaics have been opaque, translucent or transparent ones, but modern technologies provide vivid mosaics. Vivid mosaics have variable transparencies and adjustable light emanating facilities. The light emanating mosaics have controllable intensities and tonal gradations. The cathode tubes, LCD and LED are examples of mosaic forming screens, but the same could be through a projected image on plain or crystal-activated screens.


Traditional mosaics were patterns and forms created from pieces of stones, ceramics, wood, glass, metals, leather and fabrics. The pieces were fixed to the base surface through a binding or cementing agent. Fabric and leather mosaics are created by stitching together the edges (patch work), whereas metal pieces were joined mechanically or fuse-welded at the edge, or with the base. Mosaic joints expose the base surface, the joining material or additional fill-in material. Mosaics are created by inlaying pieces of materials into a base through chasing, engraving, etc. For inlaying rare materials such as sea shells, precious stones, jewels, pearls, gold and silver etc. are used.




Romans have used bricks and stone masonry patterns as mosaics. Stone mosaics of Roman and later in Romanesque period exploited the marble debris of old buildings. Wood mosaics are used in floors and as marquetry in furniture and panelings. Ceramic mosaics have been popular everywhere, as the colour range vivid, glossy, permanent (non-fading) and different from any other material finishes. Glass mosaics were technologically closer to ceramics. Glass offered various levels of transparencies. Glass mosaics were created by joining specifically shaped pieces with lead cams. The pieces were coloured during glass manufacturing. The mosaic like effect is now created by painting with stained varnishes, often within marked areas. Mosaics’ patterns are also created by composite formation where fillers like stones, plastics, wood, etc. go into a matrix of a resin. Metal mosaics are created through alloying with a non miscible materials.






Post 285 – by Gautam Shah



Architectonic elements over openings are mainly of carved, sculpted or formed nature, and occasionally drawn objects. The first set are exploited on the exterior face, whereas the second types are more preferred on interior surfaces.

Church of the sacred heart and St Catherine of Alexandria

Exterior elements get the advantage of strong and directional sun light and natural colour-textures of the materials. The interior elements have very subdued illumination and often rendered over plastered surfaces.

Art Buddhism China Monastery LijiangInterior elements of drawn objects like paintings, mosaics, and other surface renderings must use colour to convey the depth by contrast and delineation of outlines. Patterns and subject themes are also used for reinforcing the architectonic nature of the elements.

Yeni Valide Mosque Uskudar interior


Drawn elements were not possible on exterior faces. Fresco, Tempera or Encaustic techniques of painting used materials that did not weather well. Mosaic work with variegated colour stones, ceramic or glass pieces, were fixed with lime or such cementing materials that gave uncertain results over ageing. Interior renderings, however, in many instances have surpassed the sculpted work.



Roman Interior Space

San Miniato al Monte, Florence, (1013–1090) decoration of poly-chrome marble and mosaic.

Tomar Convento de Cristo Charola (1)


freddy mamani

Interior renderings in post middle ages began to draw shadows of thematic presentations, and these had to match the directions of natural shades within the interior space. For the directional illumination and shadows, contrasting colours and tonal variations were used but sense of perspective was not fully matured.


At other end in Middle East buildings were being converted to Islamic faith. Here instead of drawn stories plain bands of stones were over painted with decorative motif, calligraphic writings, or clad with metal sheets of bronze or gold. In many instance such treatments did not match with the original architecture but were of appliqué nature.

Sheikh Lutfollah Mosque Iran

Patterns and themes were used to supplement the functional and decorative character of the opening. The openings, for structural reasons have been narrower in width, then their measures in height. Openings’ treatments were articulated to enhance the perceived width.



‘The Greeks, consciously or unconsciously, practiced extreme simplicity in art, and the fine-grained marble that they worked also encouraged the tendency to leave purity of an outline to speak for itself. Thus, whether on the grand scale of a temple building like the Parthenon or in the single human figure as the Hermes of Olympia, they were content with beauty unadorned by distracting ornament’.


‘The Romans never seem to have been satisfied till they had loaded their monumental buildings with every possible ornamental addition. Here too again the influence of material is apparent; for concrete demanded a disguise, and coarse limestone did not permit of delicate purity of line and thus called for extraneous ornament, so the Romans completed the magnificence of their monuments by a wealth of decoration’. –From: History of Architecture by Sir Banister Fletcher