Section 2: The Period of The Şah Kulu (1535 – 1557)

26 Mayıs 2012





(1535 – 1557)

Continue in the book…………………………………

Kapak volume 2 İng.





(1557 – 1610)

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Samples of the Period

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image 121

Ø = 40 cm. circa 1495 – 1505 

Original work by Ismail Yigit.

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5. Stage

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1530 – 1535

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 ………………………………………………………A group of master craftsmen and workshops between 1530 – 1535 “easy trend” works – a group of academics that have been accepted as the current style of the masters – also after Şah Kulu period, such as an innovative production of ceramics remained until 1545…………………….




However, this period has its own unique features. For example:

There are two main colors used in other than white, tones of blue and turquoise.

Pattern applied simple draws.

Painting and brush techniques, is very weak.

Vertical and horizantal view totally lost

For the first time in buds, spring flowers, tulips, saz leaves and carnations are drawn. However, in practice and attention to detail no. Central composition dispersed.

Continue in the book………………….


  image 107 


  h: 5.5 cm      Ø : 34.8 cm (rim)      Ø : 18.2 cm   date  1530-40 

Saz leaves, spring flowers, tulip and carnation buds are Under the protection  of dragons. Middle border is also in the control of dragons too. Broken branches are used for the first time. On the central panel Baba Nakkaş not forgotten. The white on blue ground pattern is inherited form master. Bilateral drakes, even pomegranate flowers under the protection of dual dragons, escaped and came to from oil lamps in the mosque in 1510. Even the veins in leaves not forgotten, an example of a faithful.

 General style; Chinese imitation “easy trend”



 image  111 


date 1540

Imitation of China “easy trend” continues, turquoise is essential.

Continue in the book………………….




4. Stage

26 Mayıs 2012





1520 – 1530


Innovation seeking is intensity. Iznik pottery of this period, the contribution of the color palette, increadible turquoise (images 94,95,96). This color brings an extraordinary vitality to the objects.

Şah Kulu accepted to the palace during this period. Saz leaves begin to appear in the compositions at 1520. However, to reach a real event at 1540s. Details will be examine in Şah Kulu part.

Continue in the book………………….


 application date 7

Wheel of fortune compositions began to be applied for the first time in Baba Nakkaş period. However, very few trials, and therefore those who transferred to the present day. Intensive application of this composition is in Kara Memi period. Researchers confused this motif as the symbols of weathercock on Map, Oceanography and Meteorology. There are many differences between look and see. For this reason (Period 3 Karamemi) section under the heading of Weathercock is discussed in very detailed comparison with the wheel of fortune. (images  88,410,411,412,413)

Continue in the book………………….



  image 88

Motifs in the center circle are “rumi”. The motif the inner surface from the center outward is “Wheel of fortune”.



Golden Horn Job

And the final composition of Baba Nakkaş period is the “Golden Horn Job – Golden Horn – Tuğrakeş – Helix Spiral” began to take a little adventure. 

 Originated in an application that has a unique composition of Baba Nakkaş in 1525s, slowly reveals itself. Combination of the Golden Horn called the General, Baba Nakkaş’s greatest gift to Iznik ceramics history. Craftsman who created this composition is not known.

However, the Golden Horn, known as the Golden Horn, is a very important geological construction look like horn at the beginning of bosphorus. This is a natural recess in the sea area where 500 years of a residential and valuable area of Istanbul, describe as gold. Golden Horn is the expression, these type of Iznik production, as though they were produced in Golden Horn. However some examples of Iznik ceramics found in the area, but it doesnot prove that they are produced in Golden Horn. Probably  Continue in the book………………….

 application date 8




image  99

                   THE METROPOLITAN MUSEUM              

     Ewer with a lid     

Circa 1530–35

Ewer  :      h.  22.4 cm      W. 18.9 cm     Max. Ø.  14 cm

Lid :      h.  4 cm       Ø. 8.7 cm




3. Stage

26 Mayıs 2012



1510 – 1520

Baba Nakkaş probably was born in 1435s, and probably not alive in these date. His students and assistants studied with him avoid difficult techniques after his authoritarian and pressure. The first studies of this effect can be seen on ground.

Due to the ease of application, cobalt blue background, (which later turned to a white ground), navy blue was employed as it turns blue. Apprentices make the applications and techniques easier but remain faithful to their master’s compostions and augment his work by adding a diversity of patterns with  new and old motifs. For examples, horizontal and vertical patterns.  Hatay and/or Hita is a specific pattern known as “Chinese-Turkestan” concept with vertical and horizontal cross sectional views of flowers. ( See table 4). This influential association and evolvement is the main composition of Baba Nakkus period( Pictures 78-80) has thus assumed a major role in the overall development of these artistic themes and techniques.

Continue in the book…………………………








2. Stage

26 Mayıs 2012





     1500 – 1510


During this period, decrease in rumi motif, increase on “vertical view” motif starting the last years of 15th century. (table 4) (images 70, 71,72,73,74)

Especially mosque oil lamp important in this time and  “four new motif” and a “new detail” motif begun from Chinese motifs.

application date 6

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application date  5




 image  70 


Object types  mosque-lamp   Date   1510 (circa)

h: 21.9 cm    Ø:15.8 cm (max)     Ø: 8.6 c m (foot)     Ø:16.8 cm(rim)

Vertical view patterns dominated on the object. The top, dual chain pattern border in the mouth. Under it, the kufi character messege. Quartet chain located on the waist border. Separators are on the top of the body border. The main composition of the main body of classical Baba Nakkaş style, then dual chain pattern border and a final with Ru Yi motif.



 image 71

Kufic, chain pattern, separator, vertical view of peonies and lotus flowers

image 72



image  73

Vertical view of the lotus flower below chain handles

 image 74

Lower edges are China Ru Yi motif band (table 5) and the base horizontal view of lotus flowers




1. Stage

26 Mayıs 2012



   1480 – 1500

The background color of dark blue with  cobalt blue pigment in compositions implimented “Rumi” as the dominate pattern and was chiefly found during this early period begining in the 1480’s. (Table 2.3) 1480 ‘den duraklasa and stopped at some time between 1560 to 1570. It later started up again and lasted until the end of 1620. The Rumi motif was used by Ottoman craftsmen and artisans in all ways within the entire decorative art field and trades. Book illustrations, fabrics, wood carvings, carpets, oriental rugs, gold, silver, copper, bronze metals were used for any and every purpose imaginable. There was a small renaissance happening in this area. The actual origins were Anatolian. Before the start of Turkish migration to Central Asia and later to Anatolia, the Aremenians and Greeks were migrating from Anatolia to Iran. At that time, this very wide open region was called Diyar-i-Rum” and named “Rumi” by everyone passing through and the name continues from this origin.  The exact meaning of the word “Anatolia”. This collection of designs were created by artists from Greece and Armenia. Seljuk adopted the motifs and then applied to everything being made practically in the Mıddle East, (picture 58). It was a flourishing time for everyone and extraordinary progress was made during this period of the Ottoman Empire. For these reasons the production period of Iznik Ceramics have endured for centuries in popularity and bringing riches, success and jobs to the area. This would be any artisan’s dream to be working in this dynamic area.  Continue in the book………….



 image 59


 Ø : 40 cm.  Date: 1480

Rumi motif and fig leaves





The Term’s Properties

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After describing “Secrets Under Underglaze” of the period, we must now examine its general developement next.


Baba Nakkaş became master craftman by Fatih Sultan Mehmet after the conquest of İstanbul. He was a very important artist. In the same historical process, Iznik ceramic masters, on the other hand the quality of the dough, turning to quartz upgrading, on the other hand have developed techniques for glazing and firing. In the palace, Baba Nakkaş and his students, who influenced Chinese ceramic patterns, motifs and compositions, and began to copy them exactly and drew their creations rumi and hatayi patterns with them and created extraordinary objects.

This application and production, the influence of certain periods in the historical perspective of Chinese ceramics continued until the late 16th century.


These Periods are:

The Yuan Dynasty   1279-1368

The Ming Dynasty

The Yongle periodu       1402-1424

The Xuande periodu     1426-1435

The Chenghua periodu 1465-1487

The Jiajing periodu      1522-1566

However, craftmen in the palace used and coppied some of the motifs from Chinese ceramics and without knowing what the motifs they are, and continued until the last period of Iznik ceramics. For example, ling zhi mushroom called flower motif or lotus flower motif, called cloud to dragon motif, dragon skin called Chinese rock or wall, separators have an important role and a part of  Chinese home life called atlar. Unfortunately, many scientists and researcher interpreted  these patterns in the same mistake. However, by this copy, Iznik ceramics have some patterns such as rumi, ( images 59,60,61,62) vertical / horizontal view, (images 70,74,79,80) bird view (images 108,112,139), Wheel of fortune ( image 88) separator, (images 62 63 70).

Color characteristic of the period, two-color application technique. Usually preferred dark blue or cobalt blue tones painting on white lining. Blue and white Chinese ceramics effect it very much. Baba Nakkaş and his students produced blue background and white motif like Chinese ceramics and towards the end of the period they used successfully sage tea green – white and brown – white on some objects. Seeking new colors, they used different tones of blue and green colors and found turquoise color as a third color and it took its place in the palette and on the objects. 

By the way we have to explaine a traditional msitake. Because of an old traditional wrong speech, academics and researchers examining Ottoman documents and said that “there must be a lot of green-white Iznik pottery was produced.” Their hope is in an excavation site they will find a lot of green- white ceramics. Yet even today, especially in the Aegean and Mediterranean villages, and even many in our village, blue is still called green. It comes like it from generation to generation from the Ottomans. For this reason, 400-500 years ago, when the documents written by official, the offical sahite to the documents.w  blue – white Iznik ceramic, but he knew blue as a green, he wrote green – w

 Continue in the book………….



Forms an important object of the period of historical findings that may help in the technical measurement scales are.

As can be seen produced large-scale plates to 30 cm from 46 cm during Baba Nakkaş period. This is entirely the result of Chinese influence. Plate edges often wavy edges (leaf edges or parentheses). Proportionally lower than the production of flat-sided plates. The width of the borders are from 3.3 cm to 6 cm. The height of the plate goes up to 8.2 cm. These numbers have no any proportional relationship between plate diameters.

A Kitchen equipment model from Italy. Not favoured by the Ottoman cuisine is not useful for. At the end of the period (1530-35) produced as a standard.

Continue in the book…….


In the period analyzed in terms of art, primarily by using the precise contours of a drawing technique applied a very thin brush. Paint the drawing techniques that can cause flooding, patterns painted interiors, care and attention to their work has made. The result is excellent. 

The teachings of Baba Nakkaş on patterns, motifs and brush techniques continued and transferred from generation to generation by all craftmen until the close of Iznik workshops.

 Examine the period in 5 parts which are visual, color, technique, and historically will be much healthier.

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Section 1: The Period of The Baba Nakkaş (1480 – 1535)

26 Mayıs 2012










Baba Nakkaş, whose real name is Muhammed Şeyh Bayezid, exact dates of birth and death is unknown. Probably he was born between 1430-35. After the conquest of İstanbul Baba Nakkaş has been accepted to the palace. Rise his study and became master craftman can be dated to 1466. Because in a copy of a document (temlikneme) at  the General Directorate of Foundation says that in 1466 an estate near Çatalça named Nakkaşköy village (in 1466 the name of the village is Kutlubey village) given to Baba Nakkaş by the Sultan Mehmet the Conqueror. Another documentnNearly 10 years after he studied at the palace he won the Sultan’s approval. A lot of estate in Inceağız area and Nakkaşköy Mescit must be given to Baba Nakkaş writen in this document ferman with Sultan’s tughra on dated 1475.





application date 1 

Ling Zhi mushroom means immortality in Chinese life and mythology. This is why Ling Zhi is one of the most important figures in Chinese art. From Yuan period to present day Ling Zhi mushroom is a very special motif used in all Chinese ceramics and decorative arts.

In Iznik ceramic history from 1480 to early 1500, Ling Zhi mushroom copied without knowing what that figure is. Many comentators and academicians called lotus leafs because of the similarty of this motif (image 1,2,3). The easiest way to understand the Ling Zhi mushroom is looking at the leaves on the branches. If not be careful on these triple curved leaves, they can be easily mistake for the leaves on the branches of Lotus flowers in Yuan period (picture 81,82). In the future periods these triple curved leaves used as a motif to fill the blanks. However in practice these triple curved leaves transform to circles and these motif were thought that it was a triple “çintemani” (image 182).


In 2nd part “Şah(Shah) Kulu” period, it will be proved by the evidences under the “Çintemani” topic.






image  1

Ling Zhi  mushroom



 image   2

Lotus flowers leaves

   image 3

 The Early Ming Dynasty period    

“Ling Zhi” mushroom motifs. Triple curved leaves transformed to triple circular motif. This new motifs is applied on the surface, used to fill the blanks and was thought çintemani. The seperators on the base used in China 200 years before Iznik.


application date 2



Late 15th century and early 16th century, Chinese ceramics impressed the Ottoman artists very much. Ottoman artists applied and copied the patterns of flowers and figures without knowing what exactly they are. After 1525 artits start to add their comments on the copies of Chinese ceramics and so some pattern has mistakes. Most mistakes made on leaves. However, the period of Yuan and Ming ceramics in China, this kind of mistake definitly not available. In today’s researchers did the same mistakes of comments because they do not pay attention on leaves untill Baba Nakkaş to 200 years historical period. However if they pay attention on the leaves on the floral pattern ceramics, decreases by 50% of the mistaken information.

Rose is the biggest mistake in floral motifs. Rose and drawing of it includes a seperate feature in religion.

In 1516 Yavuz Sultan Selim became Caliph, after that Sultans are more sensitive on their behaviors and responsibilities on the Islamic world. By this spiritual position Sultans changed their religious behavior and responsibility.

With Suleiman the Magnificent, Ottoman sultans became the Caliph of the islamic world. Consideration of the Ottoman sultans after Selim 1st, government services and kingdom rules changed and suitable for islamic religion. After 1520, the new sultan ascend the throne, everybody shows thier respect and loyalty to Sultan in a room where the Hz.Muhammed’s cardigan protected. Hz. Muhammed’s cardigan is one of the most important objects and shown to people in ceremonies by Abbasid caliph. After respect and loyalty, Sultan went to Tomb of Eyup Sultan and sworded by Sheikh-ul- Islam or by a well-known sheikh.(Prof. Halil İnalcık 1958, s. 71-72)

The process of gaining increasing importance of religios symbols, the way of thinking of religion belief and faith have arisen in attitudes and behaviors are prohibited. One of them is “Rose” in our opinion.

In islamic religion and belief, Hz. Muhammed’s skin smells “rose” and his sweat is “rosewater”. Giving, and spreading “rosewater” in religion ceremonise is a symbol of this belief. After taking the caliph, the palace has increased so much that needs rosewater. Fatih Sultan Mehmet period, “Gülhane park” was a recreation and sport center such as javelin, wrestling, archery competitions made. But in period of Sultan Suleyman the Magnificent, to meet this need, Gülhane park became a big garden of palace to grown roses.

Koran, koran protector, and rosewater flask are definitly in a Muslim house.

Religious property of Rose related with Hz.Muhammed, has coused prohibition as a picture. During 1525, realized that this flower in Chinese copies is rose never applied in Iznik ceramics.



In “Kadiri(Qadiri) sect”, rose is also very important. “Eşref-i Rumi” from Iznik whos a thinker spreaded  “Eşrefi” which is one of important branch of this sect. First he was a desciple of “Hacı Bektaş Veli” then a groom of him. Later he completed hi education with “Şeyh(Sheikh) Huseyin Manevi”. After his death in 1469, his dignity continued around Iznik and thoughts took part in inscription at Iznik ceramics even after 100 years (image 34). “Qadiri sect’s” most important symbol is “Rose” which is a blessing sign motif carried on head with seven colors raw silk.

This symbol cannot be sed randomly because of the Prophet is sacred. One of the reason drawing of a rose on Iznik tiles and ceramics abandoning as soon as quickly can be the belief of this sect.

In “Kara Memi” period, which is often as one of the major motif and by researchers and academics are said to be one of the four main flower is “Rose”. But because of five different anatomical structure, this flower “is NOT Rose”. It is deffinitely “MA…………………………..”flower.  Continue in the book.

In section 3 Kara Memi period you will find all the information with evidences under the topic of “Secrets Under Underglaz; Ma………….flower (correct)/ Rose (wrong) “.  Continue in the book.




 image  10


h=17,1 cm. In the year 959 (1510 AD)

 Fig leaves are on the body and at the bottom of the jug. While examine this jug let’s make the correction about this object’s wrong description.

Written text at the base of the jug translated by The Armenian Patriarchate of İstanbul’s first secretary Mr. Vağarşak Seropyan. ( image 11) 

“This wine jug is Apreham of Kutaisi’s souvenirs. 11 march 959.”

 Mr. Vağarşak Seropyan’s general comment is as follows:

First in the text there is “no sentence” like “Kcotcay”(Kütahya). Altought the handwriting is not very good but it is extremely clear and readable. So i’m very suprised that the representation of the reader made such a big msitake. “Kutayisi” is a city in Georgia. It is very interesting a man from there worked in Iznik.

With this real knowledge, upon Mr. Vağarşak Seropyan’s find it very interesting and must be explamined, how this artist came and worked in Iznik. However the situation is very clearly describes by historical events. Continue in the book…….


British Museum’s Armenian / English text translation and interpretation about this object are given below as the original.

The reason to investigate this object under the fig leaves section is, especially all the patterns and motifs at the base are fig leaves.



 image  11 

The original explanation:

Object types jug Date 1510 (dated)


Spouted jug, made of blue and white glazed pottery. It has a globular body and
an elaborate piece-moulded neck with a torus moulding and flaring galleried
mouth, standing on a profiled foot. The handle is in the form of a scaly dragon
with gaping maw and serpentine tail. The straight tubular spout tapers and
bends towards the tip. The vessel is painted in tones of cobalt blue with a
band of split-palmette arabesques reserved on a cobalt ground above a narrower
band of foliate scrolls on a white ground. The shoulder has a bracketed panels
enclosing leaves bordered with darts; the torus moulding has a chain band;
waisted neck with vertical spotted lappets separated by leaves, with an
undulating rumi scroll below the rim. The spout has vertical cable bands
between tadpole-like motifs. The base has an inscription in Armenian (in
bolorgir) under the glaze: “This vessel is in commemoration of Abraham,
servant of God, of Kcotcay (Kutahya). In the year 959 (1510 AD), March


Inscription Type: inscription
Inscription Language: Armenian
Inscription Translation: “This vessel is in commemoration of Abraham,
servant of God, of Kcotcay (Kutahya). In the year 959 (1510 AD), March
Inscription Comment: The base with an inscription in Armenian (in bolorgir)
under the glaze.

Dimensions Height: 17.1 centimetres Diameter: 7 centimetres (rim) Diameter: 7.3 centimetres (foot)

Curator’s comments
Labels: Case No … Ewer Godman; Godman; 35. The vessel is after a northern
Italian prototype for liturgical use. Record updated on the basis of research
by Edward Gibbs, 1998-1999.



 application date 3


Dragon is the most important asset in Chinese mythology. Chinese life, culture, arts and beliefs is unthinkable without a dragon. “If Dragon disappear, China disappear too.” This philosophical and mythological domain has been the driving in every period of life. Dragon is protector, abundance, health, life, the dragon is everything. (images 26,27,28,29,30,32,32 a, 32b)

This is very natural that this Dragon master motif is the most important motif of  Chinese ceramics. Iznik ceramics are in Chinese influence, and as a result of this, Dragon can be seen on Iznik ceramics. (images 33,34,35)  Continue in the book…….

Leading dragons, copied from the Chinese samples were applied in two main ways. First, the composition is used as a complementary pattern with stylized dragon motifs. This reduction is plotted as a pattern in two different modes. Double dragon and a single dragon. Double dragon is symbolized coexistence of female and male dragons. Thin tail both sides of the motif is indicative of two dragon. Continue in the book……..

Single dragons were drawn in the shape of the letter “S”. (image 41). However, both single and double dragons were drawn in precise detail with patterns that showed the differences. Iznik masters and craftsmen drew dragon heads in the middle of the stylized dragon motif. It was important for everyone to know it was a dragon in 1580. (image 33). The very rare object exemplyfying this practise in Iznik ware can be seen at  The Walters Art Gallery, Baltimore, Md.  Continue in the book…….






  image   28


The Yuan Dynasty

Scaled Dragon with talons 


image   32a

 The Yuan Dynasty

 The dragons on the border protect their leader in the middle.




image  32b

 The Ming Dynasty


image   33


h = 32.2 cm. Date :1580 – 85

Dragon masks motif  and  message painted on Iznik ceramics



                                                                                                                  image  34  


h = 38.5 cm. date 1549

A Muslim vase signed Hijra, 956 ( 1549 Gregorian calendar), same period as the oil lamps from mosques found. The Dragon motif patterns are in harmony with Rumi motifs. This is one of the rarer objects without a historical date or record attached.  Around the base there is an inscription or message  from Esref-i-Rumi.



image 38


Long : 17.5 cm.

Bronze dragon symbol

 In this figure, from “Kara Memi” and the collapse period, especially in rock wave border with the node on the middle detailed in same. (images  308,488,489,490,498,520)


image 42

Dragon hiding protecting the tree near top.





   image 44

Dragons in how wrong to suppose that the cloud is not possible to ignore the real clouds. Iznik ceramics “Cloud” originates from the Chinese motifs. This pattern is one of the mythological creature simurg (Iranian mythology, the phoenix) during battles with the dragon, the smoke or the fire gets out from nose explain the greed and wrath. (table 1) ( image 44) Changes over time and may still have been accepted and applied as a cloud pattern.

Table 1



application date 4png


The omnipotent dragon is the second most desired design seen on borders of ceramics. Researchers and academicans interpret these figures as the “Chinese rock and wave border”. This is a correct statement as pertaining to plates and original shapes beginning in 1525 AD until 1550 when the “Sah Kulu” effects diminish. (image 13). In the later period( after 1550), the images of rocks and waves disappear and the new borders surrounding the plate rim  are actually representations of snakeskin and fish ridges which seem to replace the rock and wave motif for a time.   In other later representations there are motifs of dragons with thorny backs, legs and talons that surround the plates’s edge as borders. These scary creatures fit the description of the “Dragon Spiral” (images 45-46).  A rather strange reason to be considered for the inclusion of the dragon on a plate to eat from was explained as an offer of  protection to the  fertility for the plate of food served. 

The  application of techniques and motifs can be seen in combination with dragons on plates in the following (images 47,48,49,50,51,52, 52a,52b,52c)Continue in the book…….





image 45


Ø = 37,6 cm. date 16thC

The Bell flowers (image 101), Hyacinths (image 102) and Muscari (images  91, 91a) are seen here,(image 45), painted together on the same  decorative plate.The Muscari wraps around three large poppy “cocoon” or seed pods ( pre-bloom),with stylized dragon motifs inside (top view).  Saz leaves open out from main stalk of poppy flower and hence give their name to a whole period.  The border on plate above is drawn with a “spiral dragon” pattern, previously discussed. A pair of  stylized dragons at the base of flowers, protect the flowers and flower roots.  Other answers have led to evidence of misconceptions. But, in fact, these are symbols of Kara Memi’s footsteps.  The pale purple coloring within the Hyacinths and Bell flowers are also a dating marker in time.   This plate is one of the most important surviving objects to be studied in the art of Iznik ceramics and offer great documentary evidence to this  era of Iznik objects of art.   Date: 1555.


Spiral of a Dragon,  applied on a plat

This composition of dragon eating her own tail  is often seen in Chinese art as a double hylex.


image  47



image 48

 Continue in the book……

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26 Mayıs 2012

Kapak volume 1 İng.



Translation to English

Ceren Vuruşkan

Graduated from Istanbul Technical University


Robert C. Dean

Editor and Partial Text Translator /  Re-write to English

Baylor University, New York School of Interior Design, Parsons Private Summer School European Tour, The Attingham Summer School England, Appraisers Association of America, Appraisers Institute of America, American Society of Interior Desingn Associate, Appraising, designing and editing since 1967

Isbn: 978-605-85545-2-8

Graphic design and digital applications.

Karma Grafik

İlker Mazı


Web design and management 

Aybars Oruç




Phone: +90 533 2317270




                                            SHORT STORY OF THE BOOK & THANKS

Over 7 years of research in which we work and the topic is only “Iznik Ceramics” book is ready for publication. This nearly 700-page study, is a document to shed light on the history of Iznik ceramics between 1480-1680.

At the end of study and research on more than 2,000 Iznik ceramics, more than 1500 Yuan and Ming dynasty are China and Far Eastern ceramics, and 09th century-14th century more than 3,000 production of ceramic objects in Middle East region, until today wrongly known and / or unknown 32 different patterns, motifs and compositions for the “documents andevidence,” and proved “actual knowledge” were revealed.

Till this day errors in the dating, many commentators are trying to be compensated it by keeping a very wide range of “historical margins”. At the end of our research, 153 different criteria determined and dating periods of 5 years between 1520-1600. The periods 1480-1520 and 1600-1680 is 10 years.

The rate of incomplete and wrong information is more than 65% in the catalogs of Iznik ceramic collections museums and and major auction companies in the world. Factor that causes an abnormal ratio of the height, the lack of source work. Moreover, till this day, a lot of research and studies which are copy of each other, prevented access to the truth. Despite our long-term study, even 3% we still have questions about some pattern, motif and dating.

We hope that our research, will be a guide especially to antique lovers and anyone interested in Iznik ceramics.

In this 7 year study period, special thanks to very valuable scientists Prof. Dr. Gönül Kaynak, Prof. Dr. Orhan Küçüker, Prof. Dr. Ali Dönmez, Prof. Dr. Candan Terwiel, Doç. Dr. Hülya Doğru, Dr. Aslı Doğru Koca and Dr. Serap Savaş Işıkhan because of their knowledge and share their opportunities. Special thanks to İstanbul Armenian Patriarchate head secretary Mr. Vağarşak Seropyan and Mr. Sarkis Seropyan from Agos Newspaper because of their sentitive behavour and help of Armenian translation. Special thanks to Mr. Turgay Artam because of praise our study saying that “This study will shock the world.” study and help us for publication. Special thanks to Mrs. İnci Dallı from İznik Foundation. Special thanks to Mrs. Ayşe Erdoğru, Assistant Director in Topkapı Palace Museum. Special thanks to Mr. Serkan Gedük, Restorer-Art Historian, Chinese and Japanese Porcelain Department Responsible of Topkapı Palace Museum. Special thanks to ceramic artist Mr. İsmail Yiğit. Special thanks to president of Military Museum colonel Mr. Bülent Tütüncüoğlu, Special thanks to Mr. Nijat Ayvaz because of finding Ottoman tulip in nature, view and share his documents with us. Special thanks to Mr. İlker Mazı because of extremely careful with the graphics and design work gives added value to our study. Special thanks to Mr. Aybas Oruç because of by organizing the installation and management of our web sites, technical computer support for all 365/24. Special thanks Mrs. Ceren Vuruşkan who meticulously translate to englisih.

Special thanks to Associate Professor of the Practice of Fine Arts Mrs. Karen Koblitz, The University of Southern California in Los Angeles. Roski School of Fine Arts Faculty Senior Lecturer, Area Head. Who show us the way and spend a large collaborative effort for the organization of the book presentation and workshops in the USA. Special thanks to Mr. Robert Cameron Dean, American editor, checking our texts with great care and prepare it to published. Special thanks to Mrs. Patricia Atwood, ceramic appraiser and senior member of the board of directors ASA. Special thanks to Mr. Greg C. Brown, ceramic appraiser, will not forget the help and support of all types. Special thanks to Mr. John G. Ford, Asian ceramics consultant, appraiser, researcher and lecturer.

Special thanks to Sotheby’s Senior Director Head of Department Middle East and India Mr. Edward Gibbs because of ideas and support with visual documents and encourages our investigation. Special thanks to Oya Delahaye Sotheby’s Head Director in İstanbul Turkey. Special thanks to Mr. George Antaki valuable Iznik ceramic collector, Special thanks to Mr. Aaron Nommaz The Honorary Consul of Portugal, Special thanks to Mrs. Ayla Yazan, Second Secretary, The Embassy of the Republic of Turkey in Lisbon. Special thanks to British Museum director Miss. Agatha Rutkowska, and Special thanks to Victoria & Albert Museum director Mr. Joe Plommer.

With our best Regards

Mete Demirel















When you blame your neigbour by showing your index finger, watch out for your three fingers showing yourself.

Indian Proverb















Iznik ceramics have been decorated and ornament by so highly talentent muralists over 200 years between 1480-1680. In order to need the palace for public, workshops were established in Iznik by the support of Ottoman Empire palace. Palace muralists examined the nature, plants and animals in a very meticulous and detailed way and decorated amazing Iznik ceramics. Unfortunately some scholars and academicians have not shown the meticulous and detailed work on our cultural heritage like the muralists.


After 7 years of scientific research, this book presents you all the false and incomplete definitions of Iznik ceramics with their evidence.


We invite you to discover “Secrets Under Underglaze” together.


Mete Demirel

Istanbul. 03.November.2012





















(The country of Turkey and its rich cultural history involve many cultural influences from both East and West and with origins begining approximately ten thousand years ago. The particular concern of this book and its author and research team chose to examine  specifically the historical period between the dates of 1480 and 1680. This  in-depth study and survey of these 200 years of early ceramic production follow the very origins, historical, cultural and artistic/decorative infuences found in nature or even from outside sources, from other lands, other people, other times. Izmik ceramics have been celebrated for thousands of years for this amalgamation of infuences, yet remaining totally individualistic in their own style, creativity and Turkish origins. ) İznik ceramics has a very privileged place in the world of antiques, and this 200-year segment of history of the Iznik ceramics will be discussed within four main periods in time. The purpose of this book is also to dispel any incorrect information from past academic sources, to show trends in the stylistic artistry that helps to date ceramics of these periods more correctly and to explain why author believes he is correct in his assumptions.  Knowing the chronology of motifs used in these early, ancient periods, hopefully, will assist colletors, dealers, auction houses and students of history and decorative arts in dating pieces one finds around the world. The science of dating anything is essential in an academic setting as well as the  commercial world.  Dating plays a vital role in properly describing and valuating any property.) These four main areas of discussion and historical periods highly influencing early Iznik Ceramics are listed as follows: :    açılan paranteze dikkat

1- Baba Nakkaş period                  1480-1535

2- Şah Kulu period                         1535-1557

3- Kara Memi period                       1557-1610

4- Falling and down period           1610-1680

Especially until 1585, Iznik ceramics workshops are mainly controlled by the palace and they worked so hard for the palace requirements. For the production plan, first the Nakkaşhane sends the pattern, control all the production phases, help to find the raw materials, and at the end maket he payment. Mimar Sinan, the chief architect of the palace also  responsible for Iznik workshops. It shows us that Iznik ceramics are how much importance for the palace. Iznik workshops are take care of the palace orders at the right time delivery. If they have free time, they will take orders out of palace.

“Dating criteria” is very important to investigate the periods, and to determine an accurate date. For example, several researchers did their comments by looking at the quality of the dough, glazing techniques, and the form of objects. since the 15th century, Iznik craftsmen start to using to add quartz to the dough, and they produced several trial objects in different quality, thinness, weight and form.  Try to dating by only looking at the raw condition of the potteries which produced between 1480-1550, error of the date rate is very high. Some of scholars and researces chose this way and they make big mistakes and fall into error when dating. Another and important mistake is there are too few publications about Iznik ceramics. Especially museums, auction houses and important collectors prepared their catalogues just by looking at a few resource books about Iznik which are published  between 1950-1990. So some of wrong information came to present day. Because the comments in these books are copies of each other and show no significant difference.

We have to pay attention to colors, compositions, patterns, motifs and forms of objects. Because these are the most important facts of the dating. Some colors used in certain periods. The palace master craftman and his team prepared and send patterns, motifs and compositions to Iznik.



The time of craftman’s living and working gives us an exact dating. Some motifs are historical signature. From time to time, Iznik craftmen and artist made special productions apart from palace. Also this is another fact that help us for dating.

One of the different and very important result in our research is about the patterns. The palace designers worked very hard on plant motifs when they prepared their compositions. Ants and caterpillars are on the branch, Leaf structure and flowers that seems in the nature are transferred to the object without error. Besides almost all the flowers are drawn with their original size. It shows us very clearly that the pattern is belong what kind of flower is it. So some of the flowers descriptions are wrong and this mistake came to present day

These wrong descriptions are not only seems in plant compositions, it seems also other important motifs. 32 patterns are explained in 63 different and incorrect well know names, and even some of the motifs are not noticed at all. The period of these 63 different and incorrect detection is as follows:

Baba Nakkaş Period: 27 different and incorrect detections.

Şah Kulu Period: 14 different and incorrect detections.

Kara Memi Period: 22 different and incorrect detections.

This book is the product of a study to answer these questions with all the evidences.

Details are very important when drawing the patters, for example you can see little ants and also ant’s sensors drawing on the branch of a flower which called rose until today. (Look at the uppest band on this page which ant application on the plate of the cross section) But why not seen any thorns?!… Why not drawn any thors? A daisy’s “Asteraceae” branches “feathery” structure drawing on an object which is an extremly hard practice (image 174), Why there is no thorn when drawing the rose?!…All of the above is to say that this flower is not, in fact, a rose.

For the readers to understand the period descriptions and all facts of informations easy and clearly, at the beginning of all sections under “Secrets Under Underglaze” they will see the correct descriptions with detail evidences about the wrong informations in that period.  At the second section, with this knowledge the reader has oportunity to make comments on the sample objects images. We worked very extremly fastidious when preparing the comments at the bottom of the image content for helping and showing all the details to the reader.

One of the most important problem we see is dating. The form of the object, quality of the dough, colors and motifs compositions, brush techniques, contour drawings, and dozens of different facts plays a role in terms of dating. To compansate the dating errors, auction houses keeping dating margin very wide. For example (The first half od 16th century, early 17th century, between 1550-1570). It also seens in museum catalogs. In our book Secrets under Underglaze, we identified and determined 153 dating criteria. At the end of the last section you can see the dating criteria table.  Looking at the dating criteria by this knowledge, it will be very easy to find the production date.

By this way, dating reduced 5 years period in between (1520-1600) this 80 years. Between (1480-1500) and (1600-1680) dating reduced 10 years period.

Despite all of this study, there are about 3% the answer still have not found the exact date and pattern.

Now by this knowledge we can go into periodic reviews.



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