Sgraffito, (from the Italian sgraffire, or scratched, also written as Sgraffiti as plural) is a visual arts technique used in ceramics, pottery, painting and glass in which a top layer of surface colour is scratched away to reveal another colour underneath. Sgraffito wares were produced by Islamic potters and was a technique widely used in the Middle East, influencing Mediterranean ceramics in medieval times. Sgraffito as architectural adornment can be seen on the surfaces of German and Bohemian buildings dating from the Renaissance.
The technique of sgraffito spread throughout Europe from Italy in the 16th and 17th centuries, originating from Italy and being brought to Germany via master builders and architects. As a visual alternative to stonework, sgraffito murals became an artwork in their own right.
In ceramics, sgraffito slipwares were produced in the Po valley, Northern Italy, at the beginning of the medieval period. As the Pisa region became a primary producer of ceramic wares, the style also became traded across north-western Europe.