Traditional Turkish ceramics, or ‘çini’ as they are known in Turkish are appreciated around the world for their strength, color and design. These qualities persist throughout the evolution of civilization in Turkey, from the Bronze Age, the rise and fall of the Hittites and later domination of mainland Turkey by the Greeks and the Romans, to the Byzantines and finally the Ottoman Turks themselves.
In the 12th Century when Seljukid Turks used tiles to embellish their buildings, the motifs were geometric in character and the dominant colors were blue and turquoise. However, between the 15th and the 17th Centuries Ottoman Empire period the colors became more vivid, the designs more complex and balanced. In addition to the blue and turquoise there were greens and purples in varying hues and finally coral and tomato reds were discovered.
Ceramic Ottoman ceramic art reached it’s zenith in Iznik (formerly known as Nicea) encouraged by the patronage of the Ottoman Court.
The splendour of Iznik high fired pottery and tile manufacture reached it’s peak in the 16th Century and is unlike anything else produced in either the East or the West with designs more complex and balanced.
In this period ceramics were used in architecture to fill tri dimensional space and also for everyday use as ornamentation of plain surfaces.
The things which make Ottoman ceramics invaluable are their strength which challenges centuries, the unfading dynamic colors which are vividly translucent and harmonious, and the unique use of stylized motifs such as the lotus, the tree of life, plant and flower motifs (some of which carry deep and meaningful explanations).