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

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.



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 (picture 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” (picture 182).


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






picture 1

Ling Zhi  mushroom



 picture 2

Lotus flowers leaves


picture  3

 The Yuan Dynasty period   (1279 – 1368)

“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.







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 (picture 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 “MARIGOLD (TAGETES PATULA)” flower.

In section 3 Kara Memi period you will find all the information with evidences under the topic of “Secrets Under Underglaze /  Marigold flower (true)/ Rose (false) “. 

Back to Baba Nakkaş period, when the drawing of Chinese copies in without knowing the rose is mostly confused with peony. Difference between these two flowers are in leaves structure. Rose leaves are saw blade edges and the length is shorter. Peony leaves length are longer and edges are straight. (picture 4,5).

The researchers who notice the difference in the leaves structure saw blade edges called the flower is “chrysanthemum”. Yes, it likes chrysanthemum leaves. However the petals are very small and numerous. Seed slot in rose isnot seen but in chrysanthemum it is visible. Rose structure is more rounded, chrysanthemum is more flat. (picture 6,7).





 picture 4

 Rose leaves have saw blade edges and the length is short.


 picture 5

 Peony leaves length are longer and edges are straight.


 picture 6

 Chrysanthemum. Numerous petals, flattened flower structure, seed can be seen in the upper slot, leaves edges are wide saw.

 picture 7

 Chrysanthemums and leaves were applied exactly as Chinese ceramics


Rose, peony and chrysanthemum flowers examples on Iznik and Chinese ceramics: 
The original Chinese objects: Rose (picture 83)
Peonies and Chrysanthemums (picture 85)
Roses, lilies, chrysanthemums, and pomegranate flower (picture81)
Rose, peony and water lily (picture 89)
Copies of Iznik Rose, lily, peony and chrysanthemum (picture90)
Rose, peony and water lily (picture 91)








A motif from Baba Nakkaş period. 1480 begins. This motif is used as a pattern to fill in the blanks on Cobalt blue ground and white pattern and aspecially on the borders. of gap-filling applications and in particular a continuous edge border is used as a pattern. This motif is preferred because of look like Rumi motif form.

Fig leaves are one of the misinterpreted pattern

 The opinion about these leaves are palm leaves. However, experts in this opinion does not recognize the palm leaves also. Only “Licuala” type palm leaves (palmat) are nearly looklike in the same shape of it.

 Fastidious Ottoman Nakkaş are not imposible to see and examine these leaves as a pattern and motifs because this palm grown in far East Asia, the Pacific and Australia’s rainy tropical regions. This kind of palm never grow in any territory under Ottoman authority. Lotus leaves never look like it. (picture 2). It looks like grape leaves but nakkaş certainly drawn the grab and holding spiral grape leaves branches as a motifs on their applications. (picture 13.14). Plane tree leaves immediately noticeable, because it has a very sharp and straight lines.

Fig leaves in Iznik ceramics are drawing very intensively in Baba Nakkaş period. (picture 8). Remember that this is the period when China is still in effect. (picture 9,10,11,12,79,96). Last is a reality, the fig tree is a sacred tree in Chinese mythology. This mythological relation naturally  reflected in Chinese art.

 picture 8

Fig leaf


 picture 9


Ø= 40 cm. date 1480

by İsmail Yiğit

This copy maden by ceramic artist İsmail Yiğit

Fig leaves motif are both at the center and border.







 picture 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. (Picture 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.

II. Beyazid period 1510, Ottoman arimies surrounded the terrritory of the kingdom of Imereti in west region of Georgia and entered and conqured “Kutaisi” the capital city of the kingdom. Kutaisi was also an industrial and educational city. Interesting relationship is ceramic arts are very advanced and developed in this city. After the conquest of Goergia and Kutaisi,  probably scholars, artists, craftmen were brought to İstanbul and sent to the production areas by their knowledge. Abreham of Kutaisi probably arrived in Iznik like that. This jug can be made in Kutaisi and brought it when he came to Iznik or it is one of the first jugs he made in Iznik to prove himself. Abreham is an Armenian and lives in Kutaisi and naturally used his armenian calendar. Date11 march 959 probably Armenian calendar not and Hijri calendar. In gregorian calendar it is 1510. This date match and consistent the historical events.


If the date 959 is hijri, in gregorian calendar it is1552. In this case the British museum thesis is a tragic an assumption.

 However both object form and technique as well as paint and brushes not carry the classic Baba Nakkaş 1510 period fastidiousness, or it is the capacity of Abreham. This support the idea that the jug work is a trail and prove himself. A sign and written a note on the object is a behaviour out off Ottoman culture. The second and more important issue is British museum described it as Kütahya (Kcotcay) not written in the text. The artist lived in the city Kutaisi in Georgia.

The academics and researchers who followed the translation and description of the British Museum’s wrong with this object thesis which is before Iznik late in 15th century or early in 16th century, in Kütahya (Kcotcay) which the ceramics produced the quality of Iznik ceramics is completely decaying and wrong. Sadly, this wrong information is, however, came to present day in all scientific literature.

Another wrong comment and wrong thesis cause this historical mistake is, on the body of this object sliced rumi (arabesque) motifs used first time by Abreham who is from Kütahya (Kcotcay) (But in real from Kutaisi). On a basin foot which produced in 1525 the same rumi (arabesque) motifs applied (picture 17). The museum’s description about the work on this basin is a style that has been claimed to Abreham from Kütahya (Kcotcay).

These motifs are anatolian origin. This motifs investigation in detail under the topic of  “1 Stage/ Rumi (arabesque) motif application date.” As an example, As an example, Rumi (arabesque) motifs on the body of the Syrian production mug dated back 400 years ago from Abreham from Kutaisi (picture 58). This motif often used since 1480 on Iznik objects (picture 59, 60, 61, 62).


We are waiting a dominion effect in time by “The secret under Underglaze”.


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.




 picture 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.




 picture 12




Motifs in the first line from the top are fig leaves. Poor quality of the brush and paint technique. It looks like an easy and simple trend it has. Second line, vertical peony in şemse motifs. Fourth line, vertical lotus and thisrd and fifth line horizontal flowers. Fifth line frame is Ru-Yi motif (Table 5).


  First jugs production date is 1520. in this form of jugs  (pear-shaped body) production date is after 1545. Date: 1545





 picture 13


Ø=37,2 cm. date : 1540


Vine leaves and spiral holding branches leaves did not show any connection with fig leaves.

Dish is a Chinese copy. But the artist did not show a meticulous study when drawing the the pattern. 11 flower pattern settled around the grape bunches are same but, the leaves of them consist two different kinds. By examined the leaves five of them is lotus, six of them is peony flower. All of them as a pattern are the same flowers. This shows the composition is done unconsciously. Border is the original dragon spiral.


  picture 14

Vine leaf.




The adventure of Pomegramate flower begins on Chinese copies in Baba Nakkaş period(picture 15), and became as a fruit in Şah Kulu period and took places in the compositions. In Kara Memi period, can not be seen in the enthusiasm of flowers. From time to time it appears as a fruit figure.

Pomegranate is a fruit which is the symbol of fertility at the Far East mythology. This thought, culture and artistic practice, and received by the societies of Central Asia, and has come up through Ottoman empire from Uighur Turks. It is also an important symbol in Armenian society and culture. The quality of the Armenian artist cannot be discuss in Ottoman crafts world. Pomegranate flowers, a fact that underlies the use of objects of this quality, this may be symbolic and mythological beliefs. Vertical and horizontal view of Pomegranate flower patterns applied in each study by the Ottoman’s artists and designers. For this reason, it is the one of the important motifs in Iznik ceramics. 

Pomegranate flower and fruit as well as the compositions are often seen. Here, the subject will examine “pomegranate flower” pattern (picture 17,18,19,20,21,22,23,24,25). However, non of the Iznik ceramics researcher in the world did not realize clearly that, this motif is “pomegranate flower” to this day. Today’s commentators, unfortunately not examine this pattern carefully, have preferred to explain it by imitation. They looked to motif, but could not see. Because of this attitude, time to time  “Pomegranate flower” has been lotus flower, lotus flower leaves, and palm leaves, vine leaves. A frequently used for it is “triple palmettes” term. All the academic studies, research publications, museums and auction companies catalogs are full with this faults.

 Ottoman designers and artits also showing their fastidiousness on this motifs. Note that the vertical view of  pomegranate flower pattern, flower where it connect with branch it has sometimes one, but usually has two circles (pictures 18,21,24). In fact, there is a third circle, but the viewing angle are not allowed. These are the fertilized seed will become pomegranate fruits later. This sac grows, non-hardening, and at the end of the shell takes the form consists of fruit (picture 15,16,19,23,24). Even the designers and artists drew the pollen sacs on the end of the thin filaments before it becomes a fruit (picture 24).

Structural form of the flower is very suitable both drawing vertical and horizontal view as well. Flower has 6-8 different special petals. In the center, there are pollens in the sacs are on the tiny tip of a very small stalks (picture 15). designers and artist even carefully drawn this motifs on horizontal view (picture 22).






    picture 15

The third flower completed its period, petals poured and begin to be fruit.


   picture 16

The pomergranate pod which holds the fruit when ripe and nearing its completed cycle.




  picture 17

Leğen “basin” h=28,4 cm. Ø=43,2 cm. date 1525

Object types basin Date 1525 (circa)


Basin (footed). Lotus-leaf flowers, based on Chinese lotus composition, in blue
on white. Abraham of Kütayha type. Made of blue, turquoise, white painted and
glazed pottery.

Pomegranate blossoms are the 2nd most important motifs after lotus flowers on this basin. Experts of the museum do not know the motif so there is no explanation about it. Because nobody to this day recognized this flower.

A 3rd flower can be seen in this composition and a worm at the mouth of it. This motif is applied first and last time for this object, and give you some describe about this flower. This plant is from Nepenthes family and it is carnivore. This flower feed by insects, caterpillars, flies, etc. China and Philippines are the homeland. (pic. 17a) It used as a figure at Chinese porcelain and ceramics. Nakkas saw and copied the motif form a Chinese object.


Picture 17a


  picture 18

Vertical Pomegranate blossoms.


  picture 19

 Flower of pomergranate fruit is quite mature here on the left side and on the right side, it shows a younger, smaller pid of fruit





picture 20



Inside of the basin. Right and left in the vertical and horizontal pomegranate flowers.


  picture 21

 Close-up of vertical and horizontal Pomegranate flowers.



   picture 22

 Horizontal pomegranate flowers. Pollen as dots in the center

(please review original flower in picture 15)




  picture 23


h=26,5 cm. Ø=20,5 cm. date 1560

In “Kara Memi” period it is re-applied after 40 years of Baba Nakkaş. Horizontal and vertical pomegranate flower patterns dominant in the composition. Started the formation of reddish-brown colored pomegranates. Flowers in the neck are assistant motifs.


  picture 24

Close-up vertical pomegranate flower motif (even pollens are drawen pollen), fruits can be seen.

 There is a very important detail in this picture. 2 round pouch are “seed slot” which the branch came from right at the bottom connect with flower. Please examine the previous pomagrenate pictures. You ll see there is only one seed in these pouchs.  However, in this picture these two pouch is empty. Because these two small seeds beginning to fruit and shells are brown and hard.  The same rigorous application can be seen clearly at (picture 19). This evidence provide us how much the artists and calligraphers give attentions to details.




  picture 25


h = 22.4 cm. date 1520

Turquoise is just beginning in a trial. The vertical pomegranate flowers are under the protection of  dragon, and fig leaves are fill the blanks.






“Strawberry” pattern was used on very few  objects during the 1530’s. For the first time it was tested on a plate now part of the permanent collection at the  of The Gulbenkian Museum from the Shah Kulu Period. Another example of  Strawberry pattern application experiment was  on a cannon barrel made in 1708 during Third Ahmet Period in the garden of Harbiye Military Museum, Istanbul. The cannon barrel is full of many flower and plant patterns which were used later on Iznik ceramics. The  Strawberry pattern on plate, as seen here (Pic. 25 a),  is one of them.



 picture 25a










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. (pictures 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. (pictures 33,34,35)

China had a variety of applications. The figure transferred from mythological world to life world, it describes in  different ways. In general, dragon is a mixture of crocodile and snake. Skin is looklike a snake skin structure. Dorsal side, which continued until the head to the tail, a hard, sharp spines show us that it is a very pery structure. Two arms and legs have three, four or five-fingered hand. Hard and violent looking eyes, ambitious, are terrifying and very suprised. Burning of the air breathe through the nose reaches up to you. However, the purpose is not to harm you, you feel to be protected inside you. Gives trust. Give peace.

Motifs applied over the centuries and  changed in time, and the dragon was created to symbolize the different patterns. So many and different but they are not misleading. So a simple “S” curve is even a dragon. (pictures 36.36 a, 38,39,40)

Due to the organic connection between dragon motif and sprial dragon which applied to the border, we will examine them together on Iznik ceramics.

Iznik dragons adventure begins 1500s and lasts uninterrupted until 1565 s. Once again remembered the last time in 1580. But this remembrance, as we shall see below that it is definitly a proof.

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.

Here, a little brief about the philosophy of ying and yang, and the symbol of China which is very important (picture 37). Ying yang is two opposite pole is not inseparable from each other. To be someone must surely be the opposite. They are opposite but this association guide the continuance of birth and continuity of life. They are opposite but never be separated from each other. The female-male, day-night, air-to-earth, water-fire, black and white, good-bad, beautiful-ugly …….

The effects of this philosophy, within the artistic and cultural practises, the dragon motifs are usually portrayed as a pair of dragons, intermingled, one with another. In relevance to Izmik ceramics, the double dragon motif once again is used and is very stylized, similar to the Chinese Ying Yang symbol, which is in itself an ancient Chinese philosophy and it transfers this idea into the usage of the double dragons . (Picture 35)


Single dragons were drawn in the shape of the letter “S”. ( Picture 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. ( Picture 33). The very rare object exemplyfying this practise in Iznik ware can be seen at  The Walters Art Gallery, Baltimore, Md. 

Throughout the Ming Dynasty, Xuan Period ( 1426-1435), (picture 32); a plate of the Yuan Period with a dragon head not a dragon mask, (picture 32a) and again, the body of a vase from Mıng Dynasty, ( pic 32b), anyone who studies these items can easily see their influence ( of dragon, etc) on Izmik ceramics and porcelains.  There is no doubt left unsaid  that the “Dragon’s signature” has been left on Iznik Ceramics.

 Sadly, within an important scientific and academically recognized book, Iznik tiles and ceramics were reported to have applied the pattern interpreted as a mask.  Indeed, mask patterns in Chinese mythology and within their decorative arts did employ the designs of masks with patterns such as the Taotie masks, for example, of the Shang Dynasty ( BC 1600-1050) period. They were also seen especially on bronze cooking wares. 




Dragons, the compositions can be seen in every aspect of life and fertility of the plant increases sometimes protecting plant roots, (picture 45), sometimes hiding behind the cypress trees, gives spiritual support, (picture 42) and sometimes the wind filled sails for the galleys, the sky is guiding them. (picture 43 44)

An interesting association, finding an important place on the oil lamps in the mosque with rumi motifs. Mosque lamps loved the dragon, and it has a new home with supported by rumi patterns. (picture 33,34,35)

In the other striking natural associated is with poppy cocoon. Substance, the use of opium which is pleasing substance  is very common in China.

Other associations of the two  distant cultures coming together within their artistic endeavors are the Poppy seed bulbs or cocoons. The beautiful red Poppy flowers brought opium to the distant shores of Turkey and Afghanistan also. Opium was a huge source of income to China as trade opened to the Western world. Istanbul became the hub of  trade between the East and the Western hemispheres

The dragon was drawn into decorations of  porcelain and ceramics to protect the poppy seed cocoon. (picture 45). Again, the protectorate image of the great and revered dragon is seen creeping his way across continents and landing solidly in Turkish decorative arts.  

Although similar in apperances, there are no applications seen using dragons within motifs of artichokes and pomergranates. These two fruits were widely painted in Turkish ceramics and art but not along with dragons





  picture 26

The Yuan Dynasty period (1279 – 1368)

 Dragon skin pattern is on the border. Dragon’s curved position is nearly the same “stylized dragon” motif that we describe on Iznik ceramics.





  picture 27

The  Ming Dynasty period (1402 – 1566)

 Curved patterns around the dragon are flame and smokes get out from dragon’s mouth or nose when dragon gets in war or get angry. In our literature called China cloud. Some sources called tchi cloud.






 picture  28


The Yuan Dynasty

Scaled Dragon with talons







   picture 29


The Hongwu Period, 1368-1398

Dragon and her babies




  picture 30

Kids. Some researchers explain it Chinese cloud.These figure and motifs used very much on Iznik ceramics. (picture 29,30,31,31a)




  picture 31




 picture 31a 


The artistry on this  object is well-executed.  The colors within patterns are perfectly contained and general quality is excellent.  No finer craftsmenship could be seen other than in Chinese porcelains at this time.




  picture 32

The Ming Dynasty, The Xuande mark and period (1426–1435)

4 dragon had settled on the bottom of the object from the neck ring, have retired to rest.



 picture 32a 

 The Yuan Dynasty

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




 picture 32b

 The Ming Dynasty


 picture 33


h = 32.2 cm. Date :1580 – 85

Dragon masks motif  and  message painted on Iznik ceramics




                                                                                                                 picture 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.






 picture 35


 picture 36

 Dragon pattern examples

 picture  36a

Stylized double dragon applied to the cloth. 1400s


 picture 37

The “Yui Yang” symbol


 picture 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. (picture 308,488,489,490,498,520)


   picture 39

Wood carved fragment with stylized dragons symbol



 picture  40

Dragons on the border on  an ancient Chinese carpet and depicted as the guardians of nature.




 picture  41


 Single and Double Dragons featured on plate. Double dragons protect the pomergranate flower, the symbol of fertility.




 picture  42

Dragon hiding protecting the tree near top.

   picture 43 

Dragons on the sky guiding the ship.





 picture   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) (picture 44) Changes over time and may still have been accepted and applied as a cloud pattern.

Table 1






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. ( Picture 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”(Picture 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 (pictures: 47,48,49,50,51,52, 52a,52b,52c)


In Two Chinese Ming Period plates shown,  dragons are walking around in nature amidst plants and flowers in middle of plates carefuly not to crush the flowers. (Picture 52a, 52b). This is a particularly strong example of  Vietnamese art on porcelain from 1530. The dragon hides her babies under his/her body and saves them from a Phoenix attack. The Phoenix manages to catch a baby and holds it in mouth. ( Picture 52c). One can see the original dragon spiral on border. 


Although the porcelain plates discussed with pictures included are very rare, their borders were drawn non-stylized from the original dragon figures in early Chinese pieces. A plate sold at Christie’s auction house on 26th of April, 2005. There were 8 dragons walking in or through nature. To avoid any misunderstandings, the craftsmen drew the eyes of the dragons very carefully. ( Picture 53-54).  





 picture  45


Ø = 37,6 cm. date 16thC

The Bell flowers( Picture 101), Hyacinths ( picture 102) and Muscari ( picture 91, 91a) are seen here,( Picture 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.



    picture 46

The dragon has settled around the plate edge to offer protection to the fertility to the plate.  It offers a contrast to the plate in picture 45, which is more simply drawn, perhaps more elegant or refined in style. The dragon border here in Picture 46 is quite large and covers over much of the floral drawings.



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.


 picture 47




 picture 48


picture  49

 Dragon settled on the plate.


picture  50

Dragon and plate together.


picture   51

Dragon absent from plate with only abstract portions of body  in view .



 picture 52

Main composition of flowers appears in the centerfield with dragon body still abstractly represented.


   picture 52a

The Ming Dynasty period

Ø: 26.5 cm.

  picture 52b

The Ming Dynasty period

picture 52c

The Vietnam Period (influence) 1350-1400

Female dragon hiding her babies under her body to save them from the “Simurg” or Phoenix’s attacks. Nevertheless, the Phoenix caught one baby dragon and is seen here holding it in its mouth.  Note the original dragon spiral motif on border of this plate.


  picture 53


Ø =40 cm. 

Researchers and academecians have commented on this plate  calling this the Chinese Rock and Wave Pattern. However, we find 8 dragons walking freely in nature on border of plate.  Dragon’s eyes show very clearly on picture 54. The centerfield flower is a rose; the lotus flower placed at hours 3 and 6; the peony placed at hours 9 and 12 hours.

Date 1525. (1535 rose not drawn)



  picture 54


There were no mutations of the patterns until the end of  Şah( Shah) Kulu because Shah Kulu recogniz-    ed and respected the dragon motifs as such.  To be an Iranian artist, one needed to know Iranian mythological symbols such as the”simurig/phoenix” and dragon symbols and also understand the on-going battles between them in his/her compositions.  Thus mutations occurred later in time. 

In discussion of more motifs of the era, the snake skin/fish ridge is difficult to draw or paint. The Iznik workshops preferred not to study the motif so hard but they loved the motif itself but preferred to alter it by making concentric circles applied it to borders after Sah Kulu Period. It was easily applied and quickly finished. This was a boost to production and economy  The researchers called the motif “rock and wave” and that assignation stuck. The Chinese rock was also fitted into this motif as well with original images appearing between 1525 – 1555.  The rock and wave motifs were generally acccepted after 1555. However, it is preferred to call rocks, rounded pebbles instead of rocks also. 

Meanwhile, Yuan and Ming periods of China’s ceramics are a real rock and wave border application. (picture 93) copies of Iznik is located in the samples. (picture 91.95) However, these are very different as shown.




Separators are one of the wrong called motifs in Iznik literature. General description lotus panel. In other words, brought together Lotus flower leaves. However, this has no connection with the leaf. These accessories are separators in Chinese home life that will not change. Every period of Chinese ceramics, were used as a spacer, covered, separarots in compositions and borders. Information about Chinese ceramics called separator band. (picture 3,55) A plate that proving that they are the real separator is in Mr. Ömer Koç collection. The object is one of the most important parts of the collection to proving a fact. In the composition hinge connections of the separators are seen very clearly. Also sold in Sotheby’s auction dated 27.04.2005 in the same detail appears on a plate. (picture 56.57) 3rd one, an example is in the collection of Mr.George Antaki, an evidence in the same applications can be seen in 2 plates in Musee National de Renaissance in Ecouen. (picture 57a) 

A group of researchers has been thought as the “altar/mihrap“! Unfortunately, some of the important auction houses used this information in their catalouges.




  picture 55


 h : 42cm. jar h : 31.8cm

The Yuan Dynasty 1279-1368 

 Separator band on the lid and bottom.



picture 56


One of the most important objecta for separators. Hinge connections of the separators are seen very clearly.


      picture 57


Ø : 31 cm   

Another sample for hinge connections of the separators are seen very clearly. Date 1610

   picture 57a

ECOUEN, musée national de RENAİSSANCE


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