Thanks to its classical proportions and bold pattern, this oversized Moroccan ceramic jar stood out among the many on display at Morocco Star, my new favourite shop in Abu Dhabi. Simple, yet colourful and highly decorative, it is a lovely example of taqcheer, the name the artisans who make it give to the glazing technique they use. This is a traditional Andalusian decorative method that originated in Grenada before migrating back to Morocco with the Arabs.
Made by traditional potters in Fez - recognised as one of Morocco's most important pottery centres - it is made of a special, locally sourced clay, turned by hand on a foot-powered wheel and fired in traditional ovens. The saturated turquoise shade of the glaze, which is also mixed and applied by hand, comes from a blend of copper, lead and silica. After firing the glaze the craftsmen draw the decoration - sometimes calligraphy, sometimes figurative and sometimes a geometric design like this one - onto the surface before painstakingly cutting it out, to the depth of just a millimetre or so. The exposed clay is then sealed with a matt paint in a rich chocolate brown shade.
The turquoise-and-chocolate colour scheme and stylised design are traditional, yet look utterly contemporary - a great example of ethnic style that will look perfectly at home anywhere in the world, in an interior of any period. With every stage of the process done by hand, no two pieces are identical; each bears the subtly different mark of its maker. What's more, the glaze itself behaves in unpredictable ways: there is no way of knowing how it will settle after firing, thus adding to the individuality of each piece. Nevertheless, the two 75cm-tall examples that are sitting at Morocco Star (for how long, I wonder) would make a beautiful pair.
Dh2,700 (US$735) each at Morocco Star, Delma Street, Abu Dhabi; tel 02 445 5282