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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.





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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.


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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.



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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



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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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