The text you will read about Iznik Tile Art was written specifically for Anikya Iznik Cini by Prof. KERIM SILIVRILI who was the lecturer on Turkish Tile Designs at Mimar Sinan University Fine Arts Faculty, Traditional Turkish Arts Department in İstanbul.
We would like to tell you the history of the thousand - year - old Turkish tile art within the limits of this website. It could even be earlier. Because if we consider that the first Islamic Turkish state Karahanlılar used to decorate their building with tiles, we have to accept the fact that it has started much earlier.
This Turkish traditional art has passed from the Great Seljuks to the Anatolian Seljuks and Seljuk has built so many mosques, castles, medressehs, caravansaries and turbehs decorated with tiles.
After disappearing of Anatolian Seljuk this tradition is carried through by Beyliks of Ottoman and finally a new period stated with the establishment of Ottoman Empire.
The most important work of art from Beyliks Period, mihrab of Karamanoğlu İbrahim Bey Mosque is in Istanbul, “Cinili Kosk” museum and Konya Beyhekim Mosque mihrab is in Berlin state museum. We can see the tiles belonging to so called “First Ottoman Period” at the minaret of Iznik Yesil Mosque (1390), Bursa Yesil Mosque and turbeh (1421), Edirne Muradiye Mosque (1433), Istanbul Mahmutpasa Turbeh (1463), Cinili Kosk (1472), and Edirne Sah Melek Pasa Mosques. These tiles are mostly produced with mosaics and glaze painting tecniques. As we can see from the enclosed examples, darkblue, blue, turquoise, black, yellow colors, Rumi, Kufic scripts, geometric shapes and vegetal origin styled designs have been used.
The fallowing period can be considered as a passing period. At this stage we have to mention that Fatih period’s head frescos Baba Nakkas’s contribution to ceramic usage cannot be underestimated. Also we have to consider the efforts of the artists who have been brought to Istanbul in Yavuz Selim period from Empire’s new regions. The tiles used in Istanbul like Yavuz Sultan Selim Mosque and turbeh ( 1522), Sehzadeler Turbeh (1525), Haseki Medresseh (1539) Sehzade Mehmet Turbeh (1543), Kara Ahmet Pasa Mosque (1551), are belonging to this period. These tiles were produced with glaze painting techniques. Rumis, clouds, vegetal origin designs and green, yellow, blue, turquoise, dark blue and brick red colors have been used. Yellow color is used as a base in order to paste golden leafs later on. In the meantime both in quality and design development there have been changes and progresses. Turks has left the mosaic and dry side techniques and developed under glaze painting and glaze methods. Also in the palace fresco section new designs has been developed and produced.
A Persian painter so called Sahkulu Veli Can has been promoted as the head frescos and started producing Saz Yolu designs. He started using animal motifs with big leaves like phoenix bird, pigeons and parrots, deer and rabbits in tiles. Fallowing him his student Karamemi, started using spring and cypress trees, tulips, roses, hyacinth, lily, gillyflower and their buds in decoration and with the colors like red, green, blue, dark blue, turquoise and brown and Turkish tile history had a spring season with this. This period as we call “Classical Period” starts with the construction of İbrahim Pasa Mosque (1551) in Silivrikapı. One of the importance of this period is that at the same time the great architect Sinan used many tiles in his work of arts. When we see this period’s mosques like Süleymaniye (1560), Sokullu Mehmet Paşa in Sultanahmet (1571), Piyale Paşa in Kasımpaşa (1573), Rüstempaşa in Eminönü (1560), Topkapı Palace’s Golden Road Wall panels, III.Murat summer palace, II. Selim and III.Murat Turbehs, mosques like Eski Valide in Üsküdar (1583), Mehmetağa, Ramazan Efendi in Fatih region, Edirne Selimiye and Takkaci Ibrahim Aga and Kanuni’s wife Hurrem Sultan Turbehs, we can see the monumental work of arts decorated with tiles.
After this period because of the fact that the construction facilities have been reduced, the times currency Akca’s value has been devaluated and the big fire’s damage in Iznik’s production facilities, there have been some quality losses in tiles and the designs. With the decreasing technical quality the colors started fading away and some colors like red has been disappeared but production still continued. Sultan Ahmet Mosque 81616), Bagdat and Revan Lodges in Topkapı Palace, Cinili Mosque in Üsküdar, Hatice Turhan Turbeh (1682) and Yeni Mosque (1663) in Eminonu are belonging to this period.
While wall tiling was continuing especially in Iznik pottery ceramic production was rapidly growing and having its most brilliant period. Unfortunately our museums are very poor in terms of that period’s usage ceramics. Because we have been using and breaking mostly, exported a lot or bought from Turkey and transported to foreign countries. Therefore in many western countries including American museums there are very rich Turkish pottery collections. On top of this there are numbers of wall tiles that has been smuggled to other countries from our mosques, turbhes and even palaces.
Iznik production center stopped activities towards the end of 17th century. Kütahya city as a tile and usage ceramic production center since many years is still carrying this art over.
During the so called “Tulip Period” there has been some efforts for reactivating tile art and in Istanbul Tekfur Palace, the artists brought from Iznik and Kütahya produced wall tiles and tiles with Kaaba figures. The tiles produced in this period has been used in the decoration of the mosques like Hekimoğlu Ali Paşa in Silivrikapı, Kocamustafapasa area, Kaptan Pasa in Uskudar, I.Mahmut in Kandilli, Ferruh Kethuda in Balat and fountains like III.Ahmet in Ayasofya and Eyup Sultan, but this enterprise could not last for long time.
During the Sultan II. Abdülhamit period in Yıldız Palace factory started production porcelain and wall tiles for repairing purposes with the machinery imported from Germany. However after the declaration of second monarchy in 1908 and because of the wars the factory stopped production and restarted in 1950 as a company of Sumerbank.
Reviving efforts of İznik glazed tile has begun with the Faik Kirimli in 1980. The date of first ignition of the furnace with the Faik Kirimli’s glazed tile motifs in the garden of Esref Eroglu is 1985.
To the fire ignited by Faik Kirimli-Esref Erooglu for reviving the glazed tile in Iznik was joined by Rasih Kocamanoglu who entered the glazed tile world in 1985 in Avanos. In summary, the first generation of new glazed tile era in İznik constituted of works of Faik Kirimli-Esref Eroglu and Rasih Kocaman.
ANIKYA IZNIK CINI, in order to maintain the fire ignited by the said three artisans and to convey the art to the next generations, continues to production of Iznik quarts tiles in traditional techniques and leading the efforts to revive the art by opening new usage fileds for Iznik glazed tile with modern designs.