Tiles industry and tile-work crafts, that can be more found in ornaments of many architectures and specially shrines of Iran, has a very ancient history just like pottery. Based on the found artifacts, the beginning of tile-work is traced back to Achaemenid dynasty. But this kind of tile-work was not common until Seljuk dynasty.
The term “Haft Rang” (meaning seven-colored, also known specifically as Cuerda Seca OR Dry Cord) tiles was first used by a royal historian of Ilkhanate to describe the technic of painting on glaze, and is still used today. The number seven however does not refer to the exact number of colors, because in this technic it is the composition and relation of colors that matters the most. Today, Haft Rang tiles are made in 15×15 cm in seven colors: blue, turquoise, red, yellow, fawn, black and white. This technic prevents the colors to be mixed into each other because they are separated by lines of a special kind of ink with oil and magnesium components. Haft Rang tile reached its perfection in Shiraz. Haft Rang tiles of Shiraz differ from other cities in quality and chemical components of its glaze.
Another difference is that the motif of “Gol o Morgh” (flowers and birds) are more used in Shiraz. Colors such as light green, pink, yellow and white are more common in Shiraz, and among these colors pink is used more impressively. One of the best examples of using Haft Rang tiles is Nassir ol-Molk mosque that is also called the Pink Mosque. Other architectures of Shiraz that have benefited from Haft Rang tiles are Vakil mosque, Narenjestan mansion, and Afif Abad Garden.
It takes twelve steps to make Haft Rang tiles. 1. choosing the right soil 2. “Chagh Kardan”, where the clay is kneaded and prepared 3. making the adobes and partly drying the tiles 4. pressing the tiles 5. “Barshouyi” or cutting away the residue by water 6. first round of firing (firing adobe) 7. applying white glaze 8. second round of firing (firing white glaze) 9. Sketching the design on paper 10. applying the design on tiles 11. painting and coloring by glaze 12. final round of firing. After all, maybe that is why Hafiz has cited in his poem: “They say the stone becomes, in the stage of patience, the precious ruby/
Yes it becomes; but immersed in blood, the liver should be”.