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Tadelakt and Zellij

Who is in riads in Morocco, will quickly stumble across the term Tadelakt. The Tadelakt is an ancient Moroccan lime plaster, the name comes from the Arabic word "dlek" what means "to knead, massage". This very special technique of plaster has developed in the region of Marrakech, because there is a geological peculiarity prepared under a very own lime. Tadelakt is used for centuries for baths (hammam), kitchens, as coatings for furnaces, and - in the mild, dry climate possible - also used for water basins in the open.

The Tadelakt consists mainly of limestone and is processed a water resistant, but not waterproof plaster, which is mainly characterized by its shiny appearance. This type of plaster is used because of its particular resistance to water as an alternative to tiles in wet areas, in which omitted the negative characteristics of the joints (eg, mold). In addition, the material is very easy to clean. Spray only with water and use a window rubber since on the extremely smooth surface no dirt adheres. Tadelakt is indeed waterproof, but still breathable, ie it does not close to humidity and therefore acts in connection with an underground limestone as a balancing effect on the climate.

The matrix, which is a light gray powder, can be dyed with any color pigments that are stirred into the wet ground before application. The Tadelakt is applied in two 2 mm thick layers on a mineral surface. The first layer serves as a primer and remains colourless and rough. The second layer is smoothed, and then, once the material has reached the consistency of dough, rubbed in small circular motions. This has two effects: the pores are closed, whereby the water resistance and results in the plaster begins after several polish to shine with the stone. While the plaster is still wet, a soap with a brush applied to the plaster, which reacts chemically with the lime to a protective layer, the smallest pore closes and gives extra shine.

In Morocco Tadelakt is used primarily in bathrooms (walls, sink), but is also used for plates, or vases or tables. The colour of Tadelakt is not uniform, but depends on the processing. Places where the material is compressed more, creating a darker, deeper colour. Newly renovated riads, but also new in the traditional style constructed hotels often use Tadelakt plaster for the bathrooms.


Also Zellij is typical of the decoration of houses in traditional Morocco. The "Zellij" are small ceramic stones, which are assembled into beautiful mosaics represent the geometric pattern. The mosaic walls serve as decoration both in the royal palaces and in the riads and traditional style homes. According to the traditional production process the clay is soaked in water for a day, cleaned and then filled in wooden or iron molds. The stones are then dried in the sun and burned in an oven. They are then painted and burned again for a short time. The furnace is heated with the pressed residues of olive and reaches a temperature of 900 ° C. Once the stones have been burned and cooled again, the "Maalem" (artist) select from those stones what he wants to use for its mosaics, and works them with a very fine tool. The final puzzle is put together on the cement, on which the mosaic is glued to distribute the stones. With these mosaic panels tables, floors and walls are decorated.