B.3. Involvement of Kütahya
in early C16th development:


Two pieces from the Godman collection (now in the British Museum) are a ewer with a dragon handle a flask whose neck has been cut down. These are both decorated in blue-and-white, and have Armenian inscriptions on their bases; the flask has another Armenian text on the torus moulding just below where the body joins the neck. Both texts contain dates and mention the town of Kütahya, in central western Anatolia.

The ewer is clumsily decorated in the conventional early Iznik style, with interlacing stems reserved in white on a blue ground, and split palmettes with prehensile tips which clutch the opposing stems. The general impression is that this is the work of a potter who had paid a not too careful look at one of the Bayezid türbe hanging-lamps. The inscription is 7 lines of Armenian bolorgir script on the base (which is printed in Carswell): "This vessel is in commemoration of Abraham, servant of God, of K’ot’ay [Kütahya]. In this year 959 [AD 1510], March 11th"

The flask, on the other hand, is decorated in a very different style: it is painted in two shades of dark underglaze blue, with tightly coiled spiral stems with comma-leaves at intervals, and tiny leaves and flowers; on the neck, a more relaxed spiral stem with similar motifs above the torus moulding. This type of design exemplifies the ‘Golden Horn’ style. The inscription in Armenian bolorgir reads:

"Bishop Ter Martiros sent word to K’ot’ayes [Kütahya]: ‘May the Holy Mother of God intercede for you: send one water-bottle (surahi) here’. May Ter Martiros receive it in peace. In the year 978 [AD 1529] on the 18th March this water-bottle was inscribed."

Another inscription on its base reads:

"Ter Martiros sent word from Ankara: ‘May this water-bottle [be] an object [of] K’ot’ays for this monastery of the Holy Mother of God’."

It was originally suggested, by Arthur Lane who was the first scholar to write on Iznik pottery, that these vessels were the work of Armenian craftsmen living at Iznik. However, since both objects refer unequivocally to Kütahya (eg. the flask is called ‘an object [of] Kütahya’), one must in fact start to consider Kütahya as a pottery-producing town in its own right, at the time of the emergence of the industry at Iznik. In fact, the present day ceramic industry in Kütahya began to flourish from the early C18th, and they now produce imitation Iznik vessels for the tourist market.

While there are plenty of records of Kütahya as a pottery-producing centre in the C17th and earlier, the problem is in identifying the product; however, in recent excavations, sherds of blue-and-white in the typical early C15th style have been found, including what has been considered a waster. Furthermore, scientific analysis has confirmed that both towns used a virtually identical composition for ceramic body and glazes, and must thus have been producing similar wares. However, Kütahya is twice as far away to the south-east of Istanbul as Iznik, and thus access to the capital was not as easy, and Kütahya probably played a subordinate role to Iznik until coming into its own in the early C18th.


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