From the beginning of Safavid period, another method of tile decoration was added to the repertoire of artisans. Economical and political reasons prompted the creation of this "Seven Colors" (Haft Rang) tile to decorate many religious and non-secular buildings, which were made in great numbers in this period. Reasons which caused the popularity of this technique were:
"Seven Colors" tiles were cheaper to produce.
Less time was needed for their manufacture.
Artisans could extend their repertoire of motives and designs for decoration.
Square tiles were placed together and necessary design was painted in glazed colors on them. Each tile was fired. Then all were placed again next to each other to create the main large pattern. Arabesque motives were extremely popular. This method of tile decoration was popular until the end of Qajar period, when the repertoire of colors extended to include yellow and bright orange.
Another important type of tile decoration at this time was luster tile. It was in demand by the end of Saljuq period and reached to its highest point of perfection in Kharazmshah and Ilkhanid eras.
Luster tile panels were made in square, rectangle, hexagon, octagon and polygonal forms. They contained luster designs of human, animals, floral and geometrical motives with borders of inscriptions, which included poems, proverbs and sayings attributed to Prophet and other religious personalities. Many of those tiles were discovered in the excavation at "Takht Soleiman", especially from the palace of Abagh Khan (Ilkhanid period) and in Gorgan, Kashan and Khorasan regions.
Armanian Church in Esfahan, Safavid era
Exquisite luster mihrabs appeared in 13th CE. Workshops of such cities as Gorgan, Soltanieh, Saveh and Kashan specialized in creation of these pieces. Shiraz, Kerman and Mashhad became important luster tile producing centers during 17th CE centuries. In Mashhad, shrine of Imam Reza (1215 CE) has fine luster decorated tiles.
Another popular technique was brick and tile decoration, a technique which had evolved from earlier decorative combinations of tile and brick; though, polychrome tiles were used instead of monochrome ones. This type of decoration was used in religious and non-religious buildings from 13th CE onwards. Jame Mosque of Varamin (1322 CE) , Soltanieh Dome (1304-1311 CE), Jame Mosque of Ashtarjan (1315 CE) and Vakil Mosque (1773 CE) contain fine examples of this type of tile decoration.
Variety of design of this technique included large inscriptions known as "Moqili", seen mostly in religious buildings such as Jame Mosque of Esfahan (14th CE) and Hakim Mosque of Esfahan (1656 CE).
Evidence of brick work, stucco carving and tile panels from the last 14 centuries have provided much evidence of creative and imaginative nature of Persian Artisans. They placed their art in the service of religious architecture. This religious inspiration found its highest expression in ornate inscriptions, which decorated so many works during these centuries.
Tile Work from Esfahan, Safavid era
In 8-10th centuries CE, most of these inscriptions included sayings, proverbs, wishes, maxims, names of religious personalities and invocations of Allah's help, in decorative, simple or broken Kufic script and are found on poetry, such as ceramic wares of Neishapour.
In 13-14th centuries CE, ceramic wares and tiles were decorated with many different forms of inscriptions. The most popular were molded decorations and inscriptions with messages of happiness, good health, prayers, wish for victory, proverbs, simple messages of good will, poems and the name of Allah. Workshops at Kashan, Rey and Gorgan produced these types of ware.
Broken Taliq script became popular in 11-14th centuries CE. This script was in luster and under-glaze decoration, contained lines from poems and verses of such poets as Ferdowsi, Hafez, Molana Rumi and Baba Afzali Kashani. Furthermore, it became popular for artisans of Kharazmshah and Ilkhanid periods to add the date of manufacture and the name of maker. The oldest dated tile is of 1203 CE. Tile panels of these period had mostly square, lotus, star and polygonal form and were put together to create panels.
In Safavid era, Naskh and Thulth scripts were used. Works of famous calligraphers, such as Alireza Abbasi, Mohammad Saleh Esfahani, Mohammad Reza Imami and Hossein Banna have been found.
It should be mentioned that the technique of tile and its secrets of trade were safely guarded and orally handed from father to son and master to student; thus rarely have designs, patterns and details of technique been documented and few complete treatises exist on the art of Iranian tile work in the past.