Date Sultan Name of Style & why Dated vessels Diagnostics Other media/evidence Tilework & Architecture


Mehmet II "Fatih"

1444-5; 1451-81

Baba Nakkash

(court illuminator)

Phase I

none white reserved on blue, elaborate arabesque scrolls, close fitting flawless glaze, large size c.45cm, plain rims (only 1 w foliate rim), cobalt is blackish blue in colour metalwork (areas left blank = torus mouldings); Chinese porcelains; new era of court patronage eg. Ushak carpets Masters of Tabriz in Bursa & Edirne (till c.1450); tile- makers from Khurasan work on Çinili Kiosk, in Istanbul (1472)
1480-1500 Bayezid II


Revolt of Gem (d. 1499)

Baba Nakkash

Phase II

Craftsmen more independent of Court

none more detailing in floral motifs; contrasts areas of blue against areas of white; cartouches instead of scrolls; new motifs = knots & cloud-bands (Chinese); new shapes = pen-boxes, huge footed basins, mosque lamps influence of manuscript illumination & calligraphy esp. Shaykh Hamdullah 1506-7 Shehzade Mehmed tomb in Bursa (son of Bayezid) has underglaze blue & white tiles


Selim I, "the Grim"


conquest of Tabriz, Damascus & Cairo; Istanbul enriched by booty & new influences whereas Chinese porcelain was rare at court before conquests

Baba Nakkash

Phase III

less obviously Court-derived

1510 GODMAN EWER: spouted jug with inscripn under foot commemorating Abraham of Kütahya;

tilework 1513

Saraçhane excavations show Miletus ware made up to 1520s

mosque lamps from Bayezid II’s tomb c.1512-5

more blue & white, less cobalt (expensive) & reserved decn takes time; reduced detailing (3D); small scale repeat motifs; smaller vessels; hastier draughts- manship; lighter blue; spiral motif at centre of rosettes Shahkulu 1526 becomes head of nakkash-hane (until 1556) increased interest in tile programmes:

i) 1513 tomb for Shehzade Ahmed, Bursa (Selim’s bro): monochrome hexag tiles, borders have rectang bl/wh u/glaze

ii) 1513 tomb of Bayezid II; 9 lamps: 5 with large lotus blossoms, 4 with knots & cloud-scrolls

1520s Süleyman I "the Mag- nificent"


Period of Experimentation ("interim period") 1529: flask (sürahi) in GODMAN collection; Armenian inscripn around neck & under foot saying it was ordered fr Kütahya for monastery of Ter Martiros in Ankara; 'tughrakes' dec, inspired from manuscript illumination of Sultan's tughra introduction of turquoise; continuation of Baba Nakkash ware; strong Chinese influence, direct copies of porcelain; 'Golden Horn ware' (in tughrakes style); new shapes: eg. foliated rim (Chinese); tondino (maiolica); surahi (metal prototype); tankard derived from leather; dish w narrow flat rim & jug w globular body & straight neck (both metal protoypes) tughra from illuminated MSS

(long continuous stems spiralling into concentric circles; sequence of rosette, comma–leaves to L & R, semi-circ device, rosette)

Sünnet Odasi 1527-8

no extant Ott. buildings with u/glaze tiles fr 1529-48

1535-40 Süleyman I


Phase I

Dish as a single field   conceptual breakthrough: ie. dish seen as blank sheet of paper; ignores shape of vessel, white as backdrop; increased size of motifs; prepares for virtuoso painting of later C16th   1538 SINAN becomes Chief Architect; maintains cuerda seca tradn; tile programmes become integral to architecture
1545-50 Süleyman I


Phase II

SAZ leaf & Rosette style;

intro of purple with black outline

1549 Mosque lamp: dated, signed ‘nakkash Musli’, refers to local Sufi saint of Iznik (Eshrefzade Rumi) & lake of Iznik (only dish to give name of town); found in Dome of the Rock (part of Ottoman restoration); attribution of other objects to Musli workshop purple with black outline; rotational movement of leaf vs static rosette; compositions exquisitely matched to shape & dimensions of dish (now c.36-7 cm); subtle uses of colour; v. few exist; annual presents to Sultan from artists (eg. Shahkulu gave Sulayman "a dish & 6 small dishes") SAZ ('forest') associated with Shahkulu: originated in Iran; C15th work from Herat & Tabriz with lions & bears lurking in bushes & leaves;

dragon textbooks used as practice for scribes;

silk kaftans of prince Bayezid in black/cream; good quality graphic details so original patterns drawn by master artist?

nümüne supplied by court (actual tiles or drawings or stencils)

1543-4 mosque & tomb of Shehzade Mehmet, favourite son of Süleyman; Sinan is architect; first TULIP; sparing use of purple; one of first buildings to use saz style

Ottoman refurbishment of Dome of the Rock, finished 1556; Süleymaniye in Damascus of 1554-5

Summary: first half C16th sees move from blue & white; lavish polychromy matched by exuberant floral style, though Ottoman potters still seeking changes; remember: SAZ = Shahkulu (1526-56) = Süleyman (1520-66)
1550-60 Süleyman I


intro of RED (from cuerda seca ?)

KARA MEMI: succeeds Shahkulu as head of Court artists in 1557/8

total shift to underglaze in architecture; Iznik industry moves to tiles; pottery 2ndary, shapes become standardised & simplified; sizes diminish, ambitious shapes abandoned (eg. deep footed basins)

intro of RED mastery not immediate; tiles first then pottery

Naturalistic Floral Style: "Quatre Fleurs" (tulip, carnation, rose, hyacinth)

Symbolism: lale (tulip) wild flowers, ie. soul in search of the Divine; gül (rose) cultivated, ie. soul in state of grace; cypress tree = alif (thus Allah?)

1557: mosque lamp from Süleymaniye; earliest dateable object with RED; experiments w black colour; divided into 3 registers: i) inscripn; ii) & iii) same pattern but no attempt at junction; designs relate to Ushak carpets (bosses cf. ‘star’ Ushaks)

diagnostic motifs allow dating of other objects:

i) elab arabesque w split leaf

ii) white roundels & palmettes w floral centres, black dots & feathery edges

iii) large black palmette with straight feathery leaves & agrafe at base

ornament not allowed to distract from architectonic clarity of building

Süleyman recognises buildings are expressions of imperial power

Sinan directly in charge of ceramics & architectural industries

Tile shapes standardised ie. 25 cm square allows for multi-unit compositions, & u/glaze allows draughtsmanship

à great pictorial panels, monumental calligraphy

PURPLE not well suited to tiles bcos not visible at distance, too thin & pale

RED technical triumph: in thick solution, gives relief

"budding flora" becomes "flowering branches": pottery has no problem of scale; vertical orientation of design, blooms to fit size of vessel, less time consuming planning

popular motif is "prunus tree", derives via Iran from China = symbol of virginity (also pine & bamboo)

MSS illumination: axial composns in small panels or cartouches

1558 illustration of Arifi’s Süleyman-nameh: shift in patronage away from lyric poetry to history

European herbals: reach new levels of accuracy in 1530s; 1560 Ogier Ghislain de Busbecq sends tulip bulb to Clusius at Leiden University à C17th European "tulipomania"

Süleymaniye: begun 1550, inaugurated 1557; marks TOTAL SHIFT TO UNDERGLAZE & decisive shift in patronage

1551 mosque of Ibrahim Pasha: marks start of u/glaze square tiles & multi-unit composns

mosque of Rüstem Pasha completed 1559; 'tile museum'; red & purple on great tree panel flanking main door; purple not effective so abandoned

1558 tomb of Hasseki Hürrem (wife of Süleyman)

1560 Ramazanoglu mosque in Adana, extensive tiling

Symbolism of flowers appropriate for tombs & mosques: eg. 1573-4 tomb of Shehzade Mustafa in Bursa (bro of Selim II): inscripn reads ".... this garden, the image of Paradise, has been made agreeable. ...this tomb, Garden of roses, is that of Mustafa Sultan"

1560-66 Süleyman

(dies on campaign in Hungary)

Group of tilemakers leaves Iznik for Eastern Anatolia; work at Erzerum, then settle in Diyarbakir (affects quantity & quality for Court)

1565 intro of Emerald Green though not used extensively till 1570s

  Ceramicists pre-occupied with tile production

Conservatism in pottery market; commissions according to client’s own tastes

  New emerald green used on portico panels of Süleyman’s tomb (in the Süleymaniye complex)
1566-80 Selim II



major patron   more freehand drawing; flowers have fullness of form eg. roses in full bloom, plump tulips, langorous movement

NEW shapes esp. flat dish w narrow rim, cf. maiolica

borders: half rosettes, cabling, & guilloche

NEW motifs: sickle- shaped SAZ leaf; scarlet ‘Turk’s Cap’ lily ; Saz leaf with tulip rib

experiments with slipware come to popularity

after 1575 no new techniques/colours/design innovations though increase in represent- ational trend, esp. animals, ships

popular abstract designs are: fish-scale, çintamani, S-clouds

  Sinan at height of creative power; lull after Süleyman’s death BUT 1571-91 almost unbroken series of tile commissions; focused in placement & forceful in design: white ground & floral style (like an oasis)
1580-90 Murad III


Mother is Venetian

major patron tho MSS rather than architecture: fewer tile commissions 1585 Firman sent in April to Kadi at Iznik to ensure an order for palace is completed & that arrange- ments made for transport

Firman in July complaining order not fulfilled & potters had been working for merchants (more profit- able!)

} influenced by }Balkan Silver DEARTH of tiles in 1580s: re-use of tile panels from earlier buildings

1588 Death of Sinan aged 97

1590s-1600 DECLINE reduction in quality reflects reduction in interest from Court

increased eclecticism, reflects demand of clients; decreased compositional cohesion

lots of mosque lamps, incl. Hebrew (ie. non-Muslim clients)

      2 major commissions in ‘90s (both disappeared):

i) Inçili Kiosk, 1590-91

ii) Yali Kiosk, 1592-3

C17th Sultan Ahmet I (1603-17) is next major patron of architecture (in 1648, Evliya Çelebi says there are only 9 workshops at Iznik, compared to 300 under Ahmet I)       'Blue' Mosque completed 1617, 20,000 tiles ordered from Iznik

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