Mosaic has been in existence for more than 4,000 years. Back then, the ancient people used terracotta cones with their points pushed to the background. Later on, pebbled pavements using colored stones were placed together to create a pattern but it was only in the 4th century BC when the Greeks made detailed geometric patterns from the pebbled stones to depict scenes of animals and people.
Manufactured tesserae pieces (A tessera is an individual tile, usually formed in the shape of a cube, used in creating a mosaic.) came into the scene (200 BC). These pieces were available in different colors and extra details. Some of the pieces are very small in size with which one can even imitate the appearance of paintings paintings.
As the Roman Empire expanded, mosaic became well known. However, the artistry and skill level was diluted. British mosaic art is much simpler than the Italian designs. Romans usually use subjects related to domestic themes, geometric designs, and gods. When the Byzantine Empire grew with power in the 5th century, mosaic was also influenced and new characteristics were introduced. Byzantium is now known as Istanbul, Turkey. The eastern influence introduced the use of Smalti (glass tesserae) which are manufactured in Italy.
Smalti pieces had rough surfaces and usually backed with gold leaf and reflective silver. The glass reflected because grouts were not used to cover the spaces between the glass pieces. As you scrutinize the mosaic, you will see the tessarae sparkle. You can find samples of art work in Istanbul, Sicily, Venice, and Ravenna.
Roman mosaics were mostly floor designs with typical Christian themes while the Byzantines concentrated on ceilings and walls. There are also times when the Romans incorporated the portraits of Empresses and Emperors.
Islamic mosaic was brought to Western Europe by the Moors in the 8th century. The Muslims also used glass, ceramic, and stone in their mosaic works. Islamic mosaics were mostly mathematical and geometric in design. You can see great works in Cordoba and Spain. The Arabs used the zillij style wherein ceramic shapes were made into tessellate to fit over a surface perfectly.
Mosaic has a rich history. It also reflects the great works of various empires. It tells a lot about the local culture and their spiritual inclinations. If you want to know more about mosaics, don’t pass the opportunity of seeing these works of art. When you have the chance, check them out. You can also search for mosaic arts in online resources. There you can find more information about the colorful and interesting history of this art.
Today, mosaic is not only used to decorate walls, ceilings, and floors. You can also see mosaic art in small items like vases, tabletops, etc. If you want, you can even hire a mosaic artist to create a piece inside your home or in your office. You can even negotiate the price to suit your budget and you can even take part in creating the design. But of course it is a great hobby you can start as well.