April 01, 2022

#BlogchatterA2Z: A for Azulejos - where art meets Goan identity.

Those who have visited Goa at least once in their lifetime will vouch for the beguiling beauty of the Portuguese influenced architecture. 

Houses built with red bricks of laterite stone with sloping tiled roofs and an elevated front step (colloquially called ‘Balcao’)  are a typical sight here. 

However, my first post of the #BlogchatterA2Z series, is about an aspect of Goa’s architecture that is not glaringly obvious and often underrated, a feature of Goan heritage you may not know much about, especially if you are a visiting tourist.

So for the uninitiated, let me tell you a little about Azulejos


The term Azulejos has a Spanish, Portuguese, and Arabic origin. So while a lot of people would argue over its pronounciation, most Goans would stick to the Portuguese manner of pronunciation and call it ‘Aa-zoo-le-zhoosh’ as opposed to the Spanish ‘ah-soo-le-haws'.


What are Azulejos? 

Azulejos are ceramic tiles that are hand painted and glazed. In Spanish, Azulejos mean ‘polished stone’ and that is what these essentially are.


Preparation: The creation of Azulejos is a long and tedious process. First, clay and water are mixed together to form a dough. This dough is then spread over a tray, cut to size, dried and fired at high temperature. It is glazed with powdered glass, after which the tiles are drawn over straight with a stick or powdered charcoal. They are then painted (with glass powder and oxides) and fired again at 1050 deg C to fuse the glaze. 


History: 

If you dig deep to find their roots, Azulejos have quite a travelling heritage, tracing back to 15th century Arabia. Apparently, they then traveled to Seville in Spain, and later in the 16th century to Portugal, who introduced them to Goa.

However, with Goa’s liberation in 1961, the popularity of Azulejos died down. Until much later, cut to 1998, when a young Goan Orlando Norhona, went to Lisbon to study music and literature, and through a serendipitous twist of fate, met a man who introduced him to Azulejos. Orlando was so fascinated with what he saw, that he learned the technique of creating Azulejos. He returned to Goa with a bag full of tiles and a mission…to revive Azulejo art in Goa. 

You can check his interview here.


Motifs: 

The earliest Azulejos had interlocking, curvilinear, geometrical or floral motifs influenced by Islamic (Arabia) ideology. Later, they underwent a massive influence of Spain, Portugal, and even extended to colonies in the US. 

Today, in Goa, you will find available Azulejos of different sizes and shapes, painted with a multitude of colours. 

However, if you look carefully, you will still discover the traditional blue and white pattern of Azulejos in old churches and places of historical importance. 


Popular motifs include remnants of a slowly disappearing culture…toddy tappers, fishermen, boats, ferries, taverns etc, 

Goan churches and temples are another common theme. Decorative panels and inlay designs have ethnic themes like religious symbols, peacock, lotus, flowers etc. 

Themes from the Bible can also be seen depicted…eg  in the famous St Anthony’s Church. 


Seen at: 

Azulejos are a common sight decorating walls of hotels, railway stations, cafes, guest houses, and even traditional Catholic homes and buildings. They are used to create wall murals, decorative panels, and name plates. 

A few glorious examples are found at: 

1) Menezes Braganza in Panjim - where there are magnificent 200 sq feet murals painted by Jorge Colaco of Vasco Da Gama’s sea route to Goa in 1948. 

2) Azulejos stores like Velha Goa , Goa ceramics, Orlando Noronha’s Galeria Azulejos De Goa etc. 

3) Condolim Church

4) Pilar reconciliation chapel 

5) Bishops house 

6) Orlando De Noronha’s gallery has a Mario Miranda collection in which he replicates Mario Miranda’s famous art characters on Azulejos. 


Purpose: 

1) Major feature of Goa’s architectural scene. 

2) Azulejos serve as good souvenir for tourists visiting Goa who want to take back home a slice of Goan heritage, it’s art and culture (commonly picked up are Azulejos with Mario Miranda caricatures—a tribute to the Goan artist). 

3) Azulejos are now used to decorate not just walls and create murals but also employed nowadays to make photo frames, jewellery, and exquisite pieces of crockery. 

However, nothing can take away from the fact that Azulejos were, are, and will hopefully always be a part of Goan culture and heritage.

You may see these glazed tiles only for its ornamental value, as a mere souvenir or gift item. 

But only a true Goan will know that Azulejos are much more than that. 

A testimony to the past. A legacy that deserves to be preserved and cherished. A story that needs to be regaled for generations to come. 

A story of who we are. A story of our roots.

And for all that Goa has endured, witnessed, and cherished over the ages, we have but one thing to say, ‘Obrigado, Goa!


If you are interested in knowing a little more about Goan life and culture, come back tomorrow to read about yet another riveting representation of our heritage. 


Until then, like we Goans say, 

Mog aasu di.

(Let there be love!)


————————

I’m participating in #BlogchatterA2Z

My theme for the challenge is ‘Obrigado, Goa!’, under which I’ll be writing 26 posts on Goa (April 1-30th, excluding Sundays), each post corresponding to the letters of the English alphabet. You can read more about it in my theme reveal post

18 comments:

sadvika annam said...

I saw them!! But I dint know the history. And as you said I have got a decorative piece with myself. I am glad that now I know the history of it

Suchita said...

I think I visited a church once in Goa that had these Azulejos tiles that were blue and white. Next time I visit Goa, I shall pay more attention to these :)

sam said...

Wow mesmerized with this blog! Loving this blog so much. I am a goan too but haven't lived there much but will definitely show this blog to dad I am sure he will love it too!!

Pri said...

Lovely!! I'm so glad you liked it enough to make it your own. These azulejos are more than just a souvenir. :)

Love from Goa! ❤

Pri said...

Ah yes. These are commonly spotted in churches here. And only add to their pristine beauty.
I'm sure you won't miss them the next time you are here. :)

Pri said...

Thank you, Sam. Means a lot. :)
Regards to your dad.

The Letters Connect said...

So lovely arts!! And how I forget to say that I learned a new word!! And what touched my heart most is the ending note. Let there be love ❤ How beautiful it sounds! Looking forward to read more. - Swarnali

Sandhya Bhattaram said...

Wow, the tiles are amazing. Nice post!

Anagha Yatin said...

Mog Assu di!
What a charming way to end the post with a loving tradition.
I am sure to look out for Azulejo souvenirs with Mario Miranda style drawings, next time I will visit Goa.
Happy A2Z to you Priyanka

Radhika Acharya said...

Lovely beginning to the A2Z on Goa Priyanka. I wasn't aware these decorative tiles were called Azulejos. They tell their own story don't they?

Harjeet Kaur said...

These tiles really look awesome and the history connected with them adds more allure. But I think its dwindling as most new constructions go for the latest tiles.

Pri said...

I'm so glad you liked it, Swarnali. Thank you.❤

Pri said...

Thank you, Sandhya. Do visit again for more. :)

Pri said...

Thank-you, Anagha.i'm glad you liked it. As for azulejos, I think you will appreciate more because you are an artist yourself. I recall the artistic nameplate you had designed once.❤

Happy A2Z to you too.

Pri said...

Absolutely, Radhika. Each Azulejo has a story to tell.
Looking forward to reading your post as well. Plan to do it over the weekend.

Cheers! :)

Pri said...

Yes. Azuejos is a fading art form. It needs saving!

Harshita Nanda said...

So have been wanting to read your posts on Goa for so long, but due to lack of time couldn't. Finally got the opportunity today and grabbed it. Your post was so informative, and yet entertaining. Looking forward to reading the full series soon.

Pri said...

Thanks for stopping by, Harshita. I can totally understand. I myself have so many series (yours included) left to read---I intend doing that the first chance I get. :)