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MFA Acc. #: 2002.128.1


A small square or cube of a hard material. Tessera have been made of Bone, Wood, Stone, Ceramic, and Glass. In ancient times, they were used a token, tally, or ticket. In Greece and Rome, tessera were used to make decorative mosaic patterns.

Synonyms and Related Terms

tesela (Esp.); tesselle (Fr.); tessera (It.); tessela (Port.)

Additional Images

Sources Checked for Data in Record

  • Ralph Mayer, A Dictionary of Art Terms and Techniques, Harper and Row Publishers, New York, 1969 (also 1945 printing)
  • Dictionary of Building Preservation, Ward Bucher, ed., John Wiley & Sons, Inc., New York City, 1996
  • Random House, Webster's Encyclopedic Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language, Grammercy Book, New York, 1997
  • The American Heritage Dictionary or Encarta, via Microsoft Bookshelf 98, Microsoft Corp., 1998