Photo essay: Blue is for – Iznik ceramic tiles and artwork from Turkey

Iznik ceramic artwork: a decoration plate with Arabic calligraphy

Iznik ceramic artwork: a decoration plate with Arabic calligraphy

Are you also intrigued by the Turkish ceramic tiles with beautiful artwork and/or calligraphies adorning walls, entrances, domes and windows?

The art of these ceramic tiles products is originally from Iznik, Anatolia in Turkey.
History of Turkish tiles and ceramics

The roots of the art of Turkish ceramics can be traced back as the Uyghurs of the 8th and 9th centuries. In 1331 Iznik came under Ottoman control.

Ottoman Turks inherited the craftsmanship of Seljuk’s ceramic arts and developed further the techniques of ceramic making in Iznik. Around the middle of the 17th century, the quality of the Iznik potteries began to deteriorate. By the 18th century, the ceramic industry in Iznik had died out completely and Kutahya replaced it as the leading center in western Anatolia.

Why the colour blue?

Iznik ceramic art, Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, Abu Dhabi

Iznik ceramic art, Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, Abu Dhabi

Initially simple earthenware pottery with an underglaze decoration was produced. In the last quarter of the 15th century, craftsmen began to manufacture high quality pottery with a fritware* body painted with cobalt blue under a colourless lead glaze.

The meticulous designs combined traditional Ottoman arabesque patterns with Chinese elements. During the 16th century, other colours were introduced; turquoise was the first to be added to cobalt blue. The embossed red of the wall tiles of the mihrab of Süleymaniye Mosque (1555) marks the peak of Ottoman tiles and ceramics.

Sharing below more of the beautiful Iznik ceramic works, we have come across in Turkey and Abu Dhabi.

Izinik ceramic art

Iznik ceramic art, at Ceramic and art Exhibition and Bazaar in Istanbul across the Blue Mosque

Impressed by the blue mosque, we walked down the road for a cup of Turkish mocca, when a young Turkish artist greeted us (not of the pushy sort!), recommended a coffee-house and a visit to this Ceramic and Art Exhibition/Bazaar close to the Mosque. They had some fascinating pieces of different arts (paintings, woodwork, gasworks etc.) and then I saw this awesome tile work, decorating a wall.

Izinik ceramic art, Circumcision room, Topkapi

Iznik ceramic art, Circumcision room, Topkapi Palace, Istanbul

More Iznik ceramics at TopKapi Palace can be seen here

iznik ceramics

Iznik ceramics as window ornaments of the Turkish and Islamic Arts Museum, close to the Blue Mosque. Photography inside was not allowed 😦

Iznik ceramic art, Sulymania Mosque, Istanbul

Iznik ceramic art, Suleymani Mosque, Istanbul. The time of the artwork of Suleymani mosque is said to be the peak era of Ottoman ceramic artworks.

Iznik ceramic work at Blue Mosque, Istanbul

Iznik ceramic work at Blue Mosque, Istanbul

Izinik ceramic art

Iznik ceramic art, at a Bazaar close to TopKapi Palace, Istanbul. My husband had a difficult time to hold me back from going inside this shop!

Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, Abu Dhabi

Iznik ceramic art and tile work at Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, Abu Dhabi

Izinik Ceramic tiles, Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, Abu Dhabi

Iznik ceramic tiles, Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, Abu Dhabi

Izinik Ceramic tiles

Iznik ceramic tiles and artwork, Details of the work

*Fritware (also called stonepaste) is a composite material made from quartz sand mixed with small amounts of finely ground glass (called frit) and some clay.

What to do

Still on my to do list: To go to Anatolia and see how these tiles are made traditionally. Bursa is a center of handicraft in Turkey.

Another to do: go again to Istanbul, now with a bit more experience at photography and another photography gear!

iznik ceramics: what to buy

Iznik ceramics: what to buy

What to buy

You can get many imaginable articles with the ceramic art: from key-chains, coasters, pots, vases and decorative vessels as well as decorative plates or panels. It is your choice and your convenience, what you want can and want to carry! I bought 8 inch coasters and love them.

Where to buy

Turkish ceramics are sold everywhere in tourist shops and bazaars in Istanbul as well as other cities of Turkey. I prefer to seek out the bazaars/shopping areas, where the locals go shopping or at the place, where the artwork is created.

References and for further reading

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