B.6. The Patronage of Süleyman: (1520-66)


The accession of Sultan Süleyman heralds the expansion of the Iznik industry and a massive patronage of all the arts. Ceramics of this time, in blue and turquoise, draw on both C14th and C15th Chinese blue-and-white porcelain for their origin, such as the common design of three bunches of grapes as a central motif: this was a popular design, executed in varying degrees of sophistication, with the stylised Chinese ‘breaking wave’ pattern on the rim, which now has no connection with the surging sea.

Also in blue and turquoise ware c.1525, the natural world begins to assert itself and we begin to see the typical Ottoman ‘quatre fleur’group, consisting of roses, tulips, hyacinth and carnations, which sit happily alongside non-naturalistic cloud-scrolls and comma-leaves. Motifs such as sailing ships, snakes, lions, trees, even a young man in profile with a feather in his cap, start to appear, mostly constructed on a vertical axis: for example, floral sprays springing from a vase or leafy tuft. This vertical orientation of many of dishes leads one to consider to what extent Iznik pottery was meant to be displayed, as well as serving a utilitarian function as tableware: deep scratches and scuff marks on the surface of many dishes show indubitably that Iznik was for every day use; however, according to Carswell who has examined hundreds of Iznik dishes, it is apparently a rare exception if they do not have one or more holes drilled into the foot-ring, presumably for hanging on the wall. He calls this an enigma.


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