The Art Of Goa's Azulejo Tiles

These exquisite glazed ceramic tiles can be seen across many Goan structures that were built in the Portuguese era
Azulejos in a balcony in Panaji, Goa. Credit Wikimedia Commons / Sailko
Azulejos in a balcony in Panaji, Goa. Credit Wikimedia Commons / Sailko

Exclusive to Goa, the art of azulejo, or hand-painted ceramic tiles, came to Goa with the Portuguese. Birthed in Arabia and named azulejo, smooth and blue, or small polished tile, nowadays made with traditional and modern techniques, the art and craft of azulejos were brought back to Goa by Orlando de Noronha. He went to Lisbon, Portugal, to study the Portuguese guitar, and returned with a bagful of tiles and a book about azulejos. He is single-handedly responsible for the revival and popularity of Goan azulejos. These blue tiles, which narrate tales, new and old, have become an integral part of Goan identity.

Deal On Designs  

From the Arabic designs comprising geometric and floral patterns, to the curvy ones of Spain and Portugal, the azulejo developed through the ages before coming into Goa and becoming part of the artistic repertoire of the state. Goa made azulejo painting its very own, and now the more popular motifs are rural and urban Goan life, the fisherwoman, boats, churches, and the kunbi&nbspdance, etc. When in Goa, you will notice that the interior and exterior of churches, homes, schools, and restaurants have azulejos depicting Goan life in caricatures similar to those of legendary artist Mario Miranda.

Goa's Own

The easiest way to get hold of a sample of azulejos tiles is a nameplate. Most Goan homes will have one, and some may even sport a mural or two on the exterior walls. Traditionally, blue and yellow colours were favoured for the painting now, all colours are used. You can spot the traditional Portuguese tiles at the Menezes Braganza Hall in Panjim, painted by Jorge Colaco, and the Old Goa church at Chinchinim and other similar ancient heritage spots. The modern versions are visible all over Goa. 

Just like the making of the tiles, which are fired twice at 1,200 degrees centigrade first when the clay tiles are baked and then again to fuse the colours and the glaze to the tile, the azulejos have been made Goan twice now, and this time it is for keeps.  

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