Azulejos: Hidden Gem of Goa

Azulejo—pronounced as ah-zoo-le-zhoo in Portuguese, are hand-painted ceramic tiles. These alluring and scintillating tiles are a result of extreme dedication and passion. A hidden gem of Goa that is due for its fame and spotlight.

While Goa is famously known for its beaches, it’s time that Azulejos are equally credited for adding to the unprecedented beauty of the state. As it remains an intricate part of the culture, architecture and home décor.

Charming the boulevards of Goa, Azulejos is one of its kind. It sees a more ubiquitous application of religious and cartoony caricature themed tiles in the state.

Mario Miranda inspired Azulejos, by Velha Goa for Marriots
Picture 1: Mario Miranda inspired Azulejos, by Velha Goa for Marriots

What is it?

As commonly mistaken, Azulejos are not painted ceramic, they’re hand painted ceramic tiles.

These incredibly mesmerizing tiles are a fruit of immense labour. To make these tiles, first clay and water are mixed into a dough, spread on a tray, cut to size, dried and fired in a kiln. It is, then, glazed with powdered glass.

When the tile is set and ready, the drawings are transferred through tracing paper by sprinkling the perforations with powdered charcoal. While, some just draw straight on the tile and paint it. The paint used in Azulejos is made of glass powder and oxides that prevents it from fading with time. Once the painting is completed, it is fired again at 1,050 ºC to fuse the glaze, setting the painting. And, voila! beautiful Azulejos is ready.

Picture 2: Workshop conducted by Velha Goa

The History:

The Portuguese during their reign introduced Goa to various products like chillies, potatoes, pineapples, cashew, rubber etc. They also left behind some of our architectural history’s most magnificent buildings that still stand tall even to this day. Azulejos however, remains one of the best contribution to our artistic society.

The art of Azulejos was allegedly born in Arab around 15th CE. There on it travelled to the Spanish city of Seville. The earliest art had interlocking curvilinear, geometric or floral motifs (influenced by the ideology of Islam).

Later, when it spread to Spain and Portugal, the designs underwent massive changes. However, it is safe to say the industry bloomed from the influence of these countries, and Portuguese further spread it into its colonies.

In India, Azulejos is exclusive only to Goa. For the longest there was a lack of Azulejos artists in Goa, that almost led to its extinction, until some prominent hidden figures restored the art back into the state.

Mario Miranda’s caricatures have a huge influence on modern day Azuljeo designs, but it is not confined to that. The popular motifs include Goan fisherwoman, toddy tappers, ferries, boats, kunbi dance, bhatkar, churches, taverns, rural life, among others.

Picture 3: Panjim Chapel

Once an almost forgotten art, is now an intimate part of the state’s landscape. Artists have embraced the art and buyers/patrons are loosening their purse-strings. In Goa, Azulejos are found on the interior and exterior of churches, ordinary houses, schools, restaurants, bars and even railway station.

The most prominent are the murals and name plates. Azulejos name plaques are distinguished characteristic of Goan houses. They blend in with any design and setting due its versatile nature. They’re custom made and easily available at Azulejos stores like Velha Goa.

Picture 4: Name Plaque by Velha Goa

Goa is incomplete without Azulejos. Next time you visit the state spot these hidden gems at places like Agaccaim Church, Bishops House, Candolim Church, Galgibaga Church, Pilar Reconciliation chapel and many more.

The beautiful Azulejos work in all the above places is done by Velha Goa. Their gallery displays an array of ceramic products that you can take home with you for yourself or your friends. So, add Velha Goa to your must-visit place when in Goa.


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