1902 Encyclopedia > Tiles


TILES (Saxon tigel, connected with Lat. tegula) are used for a great variety of architectural purposes, such as covering roofs, floors, and walls, and are made of many different materials.
1. Roofing Tiles. —In the most important temples of ancient Greece the roof was covered with tiles of white marble, fitted together in the most perfect way so as to exclude the rain. In most cases, as in the Athenian Parthenon and the existing temple at iEgina, the tiles were large slabs of marble, with a flange along each side, over which joint-tiles (ap/xol) were accurately fitted (see A in fig. 1). In the temple of Apollo at Bassas, though the main building was of limestone, the roof was covered with very beautiful tiles of Parian marble, which are specially mentioned by Pausanias as being one of the chief beauties of the temple. Some of these were found by Mr Cockerell during his excavations at Bassse early in the 19th century. In design they resemble the other examples mentioned

above, but are peculiar in having the joint-piece worked
out of the same slab of marble as the adjacent tiles (see B
in fig. 1), at a great additional cost of both material and
labour, in order to secure a more perfect fit. Big. 2
at the lower edge, so as to fit in to the upper edge of the next tile, and the joints were covered with a semicircular joint-tile (imbrex). Bows of terra-cotta antefixaa were set along the eaves of the roof, and were often moulded with very beautiful reliefs. In localities which supplied laminated stone, such as Gloucestershire and Hampshire in
shows the way in which they were set on the roof. Great splendour of effect must have been gained by continuing the gleaming white of the columns and walls on to the roof. All along the eaves each end of a row of joint-tiles was usually covered by an antefixa, an oval-topped piece

FIG. 2.—Perspective sketch showing the arrangement of tiles B in fig. 1, at Bassae. B, B, Dowels to fix the joint-tiles. C, tilting piece, a, a, flat surface of tiles.
of marble with honeysuckle or some other conventional pattern carved in relief. In most cases the Greeks used terra-cotta roofing tiles, shaped like the marble ones of fig. 1, A. Others were without a flange, being 'formed with a concave upper surface to prevent the rain getting under the joint-tiles. The lower edge of the tile, whether of marble or of clay, was usually half-lapped and fitted into a corresponding rebate in the upper edge of the next tile (see D in fig. 1). The ap/xot also were half-lapped at the joints (see E in fig. 1). All these were usually fastened with bronze nails to the rafters of the roof. In some cases each joint-tile had a projecting peg to fix it to the next ap/xos, as shown at F. In the temples of imperial Bome marble roofing tiles were used like those shown at fig. 1. These were copied from the Greeks along with most other architectural features. For domestic and other less important work clay tiles (tegulx) were em-ployed, of the form shown in A, fig. 3. These are narrower
FIG. 3.—A, section and elevation of the clay tiles commonly used in ancient Rome. B, Bom an stone tiles, each fixed with one iron nail at the top angle. C, pan-tiles used in mediaeval and modern times.
Britain, the Bomans often roofed their buildings with stone tiles, fastened with iron nails. Fig. 3, B, shows an example from a Boman villa at Fifehead Neville in Dorset, England. Each slab had a lap of about 2 inches over the row of tiles below it; many large iron nails were found with these stone tiles. In a few cases, in the most magni-ficent temples of ancient Bome, as in those of Capitoline Jupiter and of Venus and Bome, and also the small circular temple of Vesta, tiles of

thickly gilded bronze were used, which must have had the most magnificent effect. Those of the last-named building are specially mentioned by Bliny (H.N., xxxiv. 7) as having been made of Syracusan bronze,* —an alloy in great repute among the Bomans. The bronze tiles from the temples of Jupiter Capitolinus and of Venus and Bome were taken by Pope Honorius I. (625-638) to cover the basilica of St Peter, whence they were stolen by the Saracens during their invasion of the Leonine city in 846.*
In mediaeval times lead or copper in large sheets was used for the chief churches and palaces of Europe; but in more ordinary work clay tiles of very simple form were employed. One variety, still very common in Italy, is shown in C, fig. 3. In this form of so-called " pan-tile " each tile has a double curve, forming a tegula and imbrex both in one. Stone tiles were also very common through-out the Middle Ages. Another kind of roofing tile, largely used in pre-Norman times and for some centuries later for certain purposes, was made of thin pieces of split wood, generally oak ; these are called " shingles." They stand the weather fairly well, and many old examples still exist, especially on the wooden towers and spires of East Anglia. At the present day, when slate is not used, tiles of burnt clay are the ordinary roofing material, and many compli-cated forms have been invented to exclude rain. Most of these are, however, costly and do not answer better than a plain rectangular tile about 9 by 6 inches, fastened with two copper or even stout zinc nails, and well bedded on mortar mixed with hair. For additional security clay tiles are usually made with two small projections at the

upper edge, which hook on to the battens to which they are nailed. Broseley (Shropshire) is one of the chief places in England for the manufacture of roofing tiles of the better sort. The common kinds are made wherever good clay exists. In some places pan-tiles are still used and have a very picturesque effect; but they are liable to let in the rain, as they cannot be securely nailed or well bedded in mortar. In Gloucestershire, Yorkshire, and other counties of England, stone tiles are still employed, but are rapidly going out of use, as they require very strong roof-timbers to support them, and the great extension of railways has made the common purple slates cheap in nearly every district.
Some of the mosques and palaces of Persia are roofed with the most magnificent enamelled lustred tiles, decorated with elaborate painting, so that they shine like gold in the sun. They were specially used from the 13th to the 15th century. In style and method of manufacture the finest of them resemble the frieze shown in fig. 5.
2. Wall Tiles.—These have been partly described under MURAL DECORATION (vol. xvii. p. 35). In most Oriental countries tiles were used in the most mag-nificent way through-out the Middle Ages, especially in Damas-cus,. Cairo, Moorish Spain, and in the chief towns of Persia. Fig. 4 shows a fine example from a mosque in Damas-cus. From the 12 th to the 16th century a special kind of lustred tile was largely employed for dadoes, friezes, and other wall surfaces, being frequently made in large slabs and modelled boldly in relief, with sen-tences from sacred books or the names and dates of reign-ing caliphs. The whole was picked out in colour, usually dark or turquoise blue, on a ground of cream-white enamel, and in the last firing minute ornaments in copper lustre were added over the whole design, giving the utmost splendour of effect (see fig. 5). Great skill and taste are shown by the way in which the delicate painted enrich-ments are made to contrast with the bold decoration in relief. These lustred tiles sometimes line the prayer-niche in houses and mosques ; in such cases the slabs usually have a conventional representation of the kaaba at Mecca, with a lamp hanging in front of it and a border of sentences from the Koran. The mosques of Persia are specially rich in this method of decoration, magnificent examples existing at Natenz, Seljuk, Tabriz, Ispahan, and other places. In the 16th and 17th centuries tiles of a coarse kind of majolica were used for wall decoration in southern Spain; some rich examples still exist in Seville. These appear to be the work of Italian potters who had settled in Spain. The azidejos (wall tiles) in the Alhambra and
FIG. 5.—Persian lustred tiles of the 13th century, forming part of a frieze. (South Kensington Museum.) 14th and 15th centuries, have designs taken from mosaic patterns, with complicated lines of geometrical interfacings. 3. Floor Tiles.—From the 12th to the 16th century floor tiles in most northern countries of Europe were made by filling up with clay of a different colour patterns sunk in slabs of clay (see ENCAUSTIC TILES). In Italy,'- during the latter part of the 15th and the first half of the 16th century, majolica tiles, rich both in pattern and in colour, were used for pavements in many places. Comparatively few examples now exist; the majolica enamel was too soft to stand the wear of feet. One of the small south chapels in the church of S. Maria del Popolo in Bome has a very fine pavement of these tiles, executed, probably at Forli, about 1480 for Cardinal della Bovere (Julius II.), whoso arms—an oak tree—are repeated

other buildings in Spain are among the most beautiful productions of Hispano-Moorish art.4 In technique they resemble majolica ; but the finest kinds, dating from the

frequently among the rich decorations. A still more magnificent tile floor in the uppermost of Raphael's Vatican loggie is mentioned under BOBBIA (vol. xx. p. 591). The same article (p. 589) describes the exquisite majolica tiles which Luca della

Bobbia made as a border for the tomb of Bishop Federighi at Florence. Fine examples of tile paving of 1487 exist in the basilica of S. Petronio at Bologna, and others oi

rather earlier date in S. Paolo at Parma. The chapel of
St Catherine at Siena and the church of S. Sebastiano at
Venice have majolica paving of about 1510. Fig. 6 shows
an example of about this date from the Petrucci Palace
in Siena, now in the South Kensington Museum. In
the early part of the 16th century majolica tiles from
Spain were occasionally imported into England. At the
south-east of the mayor's chapel at Bristol there exists,
though much worn, a fine pavement of Spanish tiles dating
from about 1520. Others have been found in London, at
Newington Butts, and in other places. At the present
time imitations of the unfortunately named " encaustic
tiles " are almost the only sort employed in England and
other northern countries. Very coarse and poorly designed
majolica tiles are still made and used for paving in Italy
and Spain. (j. H. M.)


In Egypt and Assyria temples and palaces were mostly roofed with stone, while inferior buildings had flat roofs covered with beaten'clay.
See Cockerell, Temples of AZgina and Bassse, London, 1860.

Marble tiles are said to have been first made by Byzes of Naxos about 620 B.C. ; see Pausanias, v. 10, 2.
The dome of the Pantheon was covered with tiles or plates of bronze thickly gilt, as were also the roofs of the forum of Trajan.

3 Bronze tiles for small buildings such as this were usually of a pointed oval form, something like the feathers of a bird. This kind of tiling is called pavonaeeum by Pliny, II.N., xxxvi. 22.
4 Part of the bronze tiles had been stripped from the temple of Jupiter by the Vandals in 455 ; see Proeopius, Bell. Van., i. 5.

For the enamelled Avail tiles of ancient Egypt, see POTTERY, vol. Six. p. 603.
The South Kensington Museum, London, contains many fine ex-amples, as well as of the later sorts, like those shown in fig. 4.
See Coste, Monuments tie la Perse, Paris, 1867.
For the decorative use of tiles, see Julien Foy, La Céramique des Constructions, Paris, 1883.

4 The method of manufacture employed by Moslem races for tiles is the same as that used for their pottery ; see vol. xix. p. 620, also MURAL DECORATION, vol. xvii. pp. 35-36.

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