In patterns and refractions, the old city of Fez, Morocco, comes to life through the geometric tile works known as zillij. In 2001, AramcoWorld commissioned photographer Peter Sanders to tell the story of a family who for five generations has added new dimensions to art and architecture in the story "Zillij in Fez."

“I have always been fascinated by the widespread use of Morocco’s mosaic patterns of eight- to 24-point stars decorating otherwise blank walls, floors and fountains. So, when an opportunity arose to spend time with craftsmen of these running bands of zillij, I happily jumped at the opportunity,” Sanders said.

Sanders recalled how each piece of tile was individually chiseled by hand. Thousands of pieces were placed face down on the ground based on memory of geometric design, assembling a large panel of complex patterns of interspacing shapes and colors that could often extend 3 meters (10 feet) or more. Coated in plaster and dried, the panel would be gingerly lifted revealing the work of art.

“This experience deepened my appreciation for Morocco’s rich cultural heritage and timeless beauty of zillij art and craftsmen.”
—Peter Sanders