Thursday, October 4, 2018

If this is Thursday it must be postcards, 371

Cat in window, Lisbon, Portugal, 2004
[photo:  David de Arbreu]

The postcards this week come from Portugal and were shared by my son and his wife from their trip early this summer.  On the card above we see a cat sitting in a window, the outside of the building covered in tiles.  On the reverse of the card the photographer is identified as David de Abreu.

Painted tin-glazed ceramic tiles called Azulejos in Portuguese can be found on the exteriors, interiors, ceilings and floors of churches, palaces, houses, schools, restaurants, bars, railway and subway stations in both Portugal and Spain and some can be found in Italy as well where they are called Laggioni. The tiles are not only used for ornamentation but can also serve as temperature control in houses. 

While some tiles have images or pictures on them most do not but instead have designs in geometric shapes and patterns or floral motifs that reflect Moorish influence.  The Portuguese adopted a Moorish tradition and covered walls completely in azulejos.  The second card, seen below, has examples of several different tile designs.  This card was produced by Casa dos Postais.

Sample of tiles, Portugal

I noticed that many of the tiles have some blue and wondered if that might have a psychological cooling effect.  Yellow is also a color found on many of the tiles.  Following the great earthquake of 1755 the Marquis of Pombal was put in charge of the rebuilding efforts.  He chose to use tiles, many with small devotional panels, as protection against future disasters. 

Vandalism, theft and simple neglect of tiles have caused problems.  In an effort to preserve the cultural heritage it has been forbidden to demolish buildings with tile-covered façades in Lisbon since 2013.  Prior to that law, many tiles were removed or stolen from buildings and ended up being sold to unsuspecting tourists.  A new law was enacted in 2017 to prevent the demolition of tile-covered buildings not only in Lisbon but across Portugal.  In addition to these efforts the city of Lisbon has also developed a "Banco do Azulejo" or "tile bank" that stores and collects tiles from previously demolished buildings.

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