Cultural diversity is one of the things that make life more beautiful. Ethnic art and, in particular, ethnic mosaic reflect the charm of each ethnicity and culture. Ethnic mosaic was created by different civilizations and ethnic groups using other materials, shapes, and methods to explain their philosophy and tell stories through their handcraft.
The Ethnic mosaic took place in many places in the world, and each place had its own method and signature; let's discover some of the Ethnic mosaics around the world.
The Mayan Mosaics
The creativity of Native Americans is boundless and sacred. Within their culture, art is a way to express their worshipping of the gods. Their ethnic mosaics manifest the holy belief that every living creature and animal obtains a place in the universe.
The Mayan civilization is one of the few ones represented by its artists, artworks, and unique designs. It's one of the richest due to the incredible complexity of its creative ethnic mosaic patterns and various art mediums. The Mayans were influenced by consciousness and spirituality, and many of their designs and figures were made into astonishing mosaic designs. The Mayans had their colour meaning that was related to their worshipping. For example:
Red - is the colour of blood and the sun, and it represents life.
Yellow – is the colour of maize and death. Mayans believed that maize was made by Gods and was the staple food of life.
Green - is a royal colour and represents eternity and fertility.
Black - the colour of obsidian represents war.
Blue - is the colour of the sky, representing the two great masses on Earth: water and sky. It symbolizes the great rivers, lakes, and seas.
The colours also represented the four cardinal points: white for the north, yellow for the south, red for the east, and black for the west.
The Mayan mosaic was not fully described as mosaics by definition, but the inlaying techniques can definitely place them in the ethnic mosaic category. Pieces of serpentine, malachite, turquoise, and shell were used to make their mosaic art embellishments since the Olmec times. The materials were never cut into tesserae, as is the tradition in ancient European cultures, but fragments of these stones came in different shapes and sizes.
Their mosaic art represented their expression of secular and religious views using images to communicate their beliefs and world views. Since the culture did not have alphabets, they created images of different spirits either by natural mosaic pieces or by natural pigments. Their art was practical and decorative, serving different ritualistic or symbolic purposes.
Before the Europeans came to the American land, and even after, artists of pre-Hispanic cultures had already created a great variety of artefacts, employing different media and materials.
The Persian Mosaics
Persian art emerges from different elements of beauty and extreme luxury and exalts royalty and divinity. Since the early times, Persian mosaics were meant to project authenticity and very arabesque detailing, the ethnic mosaics have always incorporated geometrical patterns using bright and vibrating colours.
Throughout its history, Persia, or what's known as modern-day Iran, has remained one of the most important centres for the development of tile work. The use of tile embellishments in Persian architecture has progressed to the point that they are now an integral component and distinguishing feature. Persians have played an important role in shaping some of the most widely used tile work techniques.
From early age, tiles were used to decorate monuments in Iran. When we hear Persian mosaic, the first thing that comes to mind is the mosaic murals exhibited in big monuments such as mosques.
The ethnic Mosaic patterns were the first step in the evolution of tile decoration. Imaginative and creative artisans put together mosaic patterns using bits of coloured stone and brick and created triangles, semi-circles, and circles in harmony with the structures they were placed on. These patterns evolved later on into designs of natural subjects, such as plants, animals, as well as bodies of human beings.
When Persian tile work reached its full potential during the 15 – 16 centuries, artists began exploring various ways, methods, and designs to elevate this art to its apex. The artists modified both the shapes and motifs used to decorate them while maintaining the ancient practices of the pre-Islamic era. The tiles became relatively thinner. Following a series of steps, the mosaic faience was made by first designing a pattern to the exact scale, specifying and firing the colours separately, then cutting the tiles into small units that were placed in accordance with the shape of patterns or designs, and finally covering the mosaic piece with a layer of plaster to hold the mosaic piece together.
The history of mosaic art in Iran can be traced back to the country's prehistorical roots. Mosaic art held a special place in the heart of Iranian culture, more so than other forms of decorative art and it is now highly associated with mural work and complex tile patterns.
The Turkish Mosaics
Çini (Turkish mosaic tile) is a highly-decorated mosaic tile that was used in lots of palaces and public spaces in ancient times in Turkey. The usage of çini became much more popular during the Seljuqs and Ottomans, which were Turkish Islamic empires. Compared to the Seljuqs, the Ottomans used Turkish mosaic tiles (çini) more and mosaic tiles in Topkapı Palace and other mosques and palaces that were built in the mid-fifteenth century. Seljuk architecture became widely used and comprised the traditional building used by the Seljuk dynasty when it ruled most of the Middle East and Anatolia during the 11th to 13th centuries.
Mosaics have been used in Middle Eastern and Mediterranean palaces, baths, temples, mosques, and churches as a decorative component. The Romans and the Byzantines first mastered this craft and demonstrated examples of sophisticated and refined mosaic patterns and their construction work. Samples of the mosaic art in the choirs of Hagia Sophia in Turkey, for example, are still fascinating with their art featuring the Turkish mosaic lamps for full decoration.
Although, when we speak about Turkish mosaic, the first thing that comes to a head is the picture of mosaic lamps. The Turkish mosaic is heavily associated with glass mosaic tiles globally with its variety of patterns, shapes colours that shine its light and brighten palaces for hundreds of years.
The history of mosaic lamps is lengthy. It originated in Turkey in the fourth millennium BC and has historically featured Ottoman colours and patterns. Since ancient times, Turkish artisans have painstakingly created hundreds, if not thousands, of lamps, and the craft of mosaic table lamps is still practised today in a wide range of styles.
A combination of crystal glass tiles and beads on the lamp is used to create various colourful designs. It has been more than 6000 years since this art first appeared in Anatolia. Turkish mosaic has been strongly associated with mosaic lamps as a result of thousands of homes in Turkey and elsewhere being illuminated by mosaic lamps for generations.
The construction of this handcraft mosaic has mostly stayed the same: beads, tinted, and non-tinted glass are still used except for the application methods and the products used for it. Metal parts made of copper and filigree. Almost everything is still made by hand; even the patterns are usually more or less similar but range in different colour pallets and shapes.
The most adaptable and powerful method of surface decoration is mosaic. With the use of this design style, you can unexpectedly create a colourful accent from the most unassuming home accent, demonstrating the owner's inventiveness. This powerful extension is what makes Turkish mosaic lamps so widely known and used, and it will continue and be vividly shining its light in different homes.
You can read our previous article from https://artmasterclassmosaic.myshopify.com/blogs/news/travels-effect-on-art.