ANCIENT RUSSIAN ORNAMENTAL TILES
Since prehistoric times and until now, the ordinary clay has served as a magnificent building material and provided a base for unlimited variety of ceramic wares. From eroded by rain clay the primitive man fashioned the first simple bowl. And this same ordinary clay enabled unknown masters of Ancient Egypt, Babylon, and Greece to create such masterpieces as pitchers, lamps, and other objects.
The invention of glaze – a hard and transparent coating of the clay surface – turned clay into a durable and beautiful building material. Decorative tiles embellished building facades, walls, fireplaces, and table tops. In the beginning, potters and builders used only monochromatic glazes: transparent, gray-green or yellow. Gradually, however, such a variety of colors developed that ceramics became increasingly ornamental and complex.
The use of ceramic tiles for exterior finishing came to an end at the beginning of the 18th century. Artisans then used tile to clad, or sheathe fireplaces, and high detail relief was no longer relevant. Gradually this evolved into the creation of tiles with no relief. At first, a small elevated oval portrayed a flower or another detail with a caption. Finally, the even oval disapeared, leaving only a flat colored pictures.