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In my end is my beginning ~T.S. Eliot, Four Quartets
The first birds and foliage designs appeared as a set of four birds: a duck, a peacock, a bluebird, and an eagle. Although other versions of severa of these appear earlier, in cobalt (Fantastic Birds and Beasts) and red lustre (Lewis Carroll Red Lustre Fireplace Tiles), these may be the earlier precursors to what would be his "Persian color palette". The designs shown are from Martin Greenwood, The Designs of William De Morgan. The ouroboros dragon swallowing its tail, a symbol of the eternal cycle of renewal, does not appear with leaves in Designs, but was sold at auction in 2010 as part of a set of antique De Morgan tiles, all with encircling foliage. These are early tiles; De Morgan's mark impressed on the back of one of the tiles indicates it was made during his "Chelsea Period". (See my longer article, William De Morgan: From Arts & Crafts to Art Nouveau.
Later tiles made with De Morgan's Persian Color Palette show stronger colors.
There are 12 tiles in the Persian Garden set. Each tile shown in unique, with each tile in a pair showing differences from the other tile in the pair, just as in the antique tile set I took as my inspiration.
Designer: William De Morgan
Sizes: 4.25 inch, 6 inch square, and 8 inch.
Uses: Persian Garden Birds are suitable for all interior applications as accents, borders, or to form a backsplash.
4.25 inch square tiles: $48.
6 inch square tiles: $58.
8 inch square tiles: $76.
Why is there a dragon eating its own tail, an ouroboros, in De Morgn's tile set? He actually is a part of the original tile set. Symbols reveal themselves wherever one looks for them, but two in this tiles set are worthy of mention in their cultural context: the Peacock and the Ouroboros.
De Morgan and his wife, as well as Pre-RaphaelitesRossetti and Burne-Jones, had an interest in reincarnation and Spiritualism and even participated in Spiritualist seances. The peacock symbol was a De Morgan favorite. The peacock, arguably a cultural icon of the late 19th and early 20th century, represents Vision and Spiritual Awakening.
The ouroboros, the dragon, swallowing its tail is a more esoteric symbol of the eternal cycle of renewal with its roots in gnosticism and alchemy.
Copyright information: Images of tile products on this website are ©William Morris Tile, LLC. They are derivative works requiring considerable creative effort. You are welcome to use the images, with attribution, for any non-commercial purpose, including displaying them on your blog or personal website. You may not use them for any commercial purpose without written permission, including but not limited to creating counted cross-stitch patterns, calendars, or any other commercial purpose. Contact me for images.