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x0x Chameleon patterned Iznik tiles

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    [See http://turkradio.us/iznik_tiles/ for iamges of some tiles.] x0x Chameleon patterned Iznik tiles By Hande Demirkaya Its china bowls, plates and jugs are
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 29, 2004
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      [See http://turkradio.us/iznik_tiles/ for iamges of some tiles.]

      x0x Chameleon patterned Iznik tiles

      By Hande Demirkaya

      'Its china bowls, plates and jugs are precious, and all the decorated
      tiles adorning buildings throughout the land of the Ottomans are made
      in this city of Iznik. Such lovely chameleon patterned tiles are made
      that language cannot suffice to describe them.'

      These are the words of the 17th century Turkish writer Evliya Celebi
      in his 10-volume Book of Travels, and they are no exaggeration. From
      the mid-14th until the end of the 17th century Iznik was the centre of
      tile and ceramic production in Ottoman Turkey. The town is still
      surrounded by its Roman walls, 11 metres high and four and a half
      kilometres in length, and to enter the town you can choose one of the
      three ancient gateways, known as the Istanbul, Inegol or Lefke gates.

      As you walk through the streets of Iznik, with its many historic
      buildings dating from Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman times, you can stop
      to visit the ceramic studios and hear the story of Iznik's famous
      pottery and tiles over a glass of tea.

      The oldest Iznik ware was monochrome red paste pottery, mostly blue,
      green or brown. In the mid-15th century blue and white ware made of a
      hard paste of a quality close to porcelain began to be produced, their
      designs including split-leaf rumi motifs and flowers. Stylised animal
      figurines were also made. From the early 16th century the Iznik
      potters concentrated on the manufacture of tiles for decorating the
      interiors of buildings.

      Later in this century the famous coral red appeared, set off by cobalt
      blue and turquoise in vivid polychrome designs. At the same time
      naturalistic flowers and other plants became the predominant motifs,
      including roses, tulips, carnations, lilies, calendulas, hyacinths,
      grapevines and cypress trees. Iznik ceramics and tiles reached their
      zenith at this time.

      Many examples of Iznik ware are to be seen today in museums around the
      world, such as the Louvre in Paris and the British Museum in London.

      Today Iznik's potters still produce plates, bowls, cups, vases, jugs,
      lamps and many other objects which perpetuate the spectacular
      tradition of Iznik ceramics

      Throughout the 16th and 17th centuries the Iznik tile potteries
      produced almost exclusively for the Ottoman court, both to adorn the
      palace itself and also the mosques and other buildings founded by
      sultans and statesmen. Meanwhile Iznik dishes and other ware was sent
      abroad as diplomatic gifts, forming the nucleus of many present
      collections. However, as the economic power of the court diminished,
      the potters were obliged to to accept other commissions in order to
      survive. Iznik ware is characterised by strikingly lovely designs and
      superb use of colour, and was as highly prized at the time it was made
      as it is today.

      Iznik's potteries gradually declined from the late 17th century
      onwards, and eventually closed down altogether. The potters dispersed
      and the secrets of their craft were lost. But today the craft has been
      revived thanks to the efforts of the Iznik Educational Foundation.

      Research has rediscovered the secrets of the beautiful colours, glazes
      and other techniques used in the 16th century, and a new generation of
      craftsmen has been trained at the Iznik Tile and Ceramic Works. The
      outstanding quality ware produced here today has again made Iznik
      ceramics sought after by institutions and collectors in Turkey and
      around the world.

      * Hande Demirkaya is a freelance writer.
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