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Tile Art

The art of tiles, which is the most colorful branch of interior and exterior architectural decoration in Turks, showed its great and continuous development in Anatolian Turkish architecture. This ornamental tile art, which has been enriched with various techniques, has always adhered to architecture. It did not crush its superiority, but it increased the spatial effect by creating a colorful atmosphere.

We can date the use of tile decoration in Turkish architecture to very ancient times. It is known that tiles were used in the architecture of the Uyghurs, Karakhanids, Ghaznavids, Harzemshahs and especially the Great Seljuks in Iran. This branch of art has continued its existence until today by showing a great development on the Anatolian Seljuks and very common and various types of architectural works. The tile decoration of each period, while maintaining the technical superiority of the previous period, enriched this art with new technical inventions and colors.

Anatolian Seljuk

Religious buildings in Anatolian Seljuk architecture were decorated with mosaic tile technique. In this technique, pieces of turquoise, purple, green, and dark blue glazed tiles cut according to the desired pattern were brought together on a plaster floor. Seljuk mansions and palaces, on the other hand, were covered with geometric tile tiles such as star, cross, hexagon, square, and rectangle. The Seljuks also developed the technique of "Perdah", which gives a metallic shine when applied on glaze. In their religious structures, besides geometric compositions, they also included curled branches with abstract floral motifs such as rumi and palmette.

In addition, the ornamentation made with very effective large kufic and thuluth scripts has an important place. The tile decorations in Anatolian palaces, on the other hand, reveal a rich collection of figures, including mythical creatures such as humans, game animals, birds, double-headed eagles, dragons, and sphinxes in various poses. During the Seljuk period, Konya became the center of tile decoration. brick and glazed brick were used in the first examples. But, in a short time, a superior level was reached with the cut mosaic tiles covering all the surfaces.

Tile in Anatolia

One of the important early-dated structures in Anatolia that includes tile decoration is the tomb in Sivas Keykavus hospital. The façade of this tomb, where Seljuk sultan Izzeddin Keykavus I lay, has a magnificent appearance with inscribed plate tiles and mosaic tile decorations announcing the death of the Sultan. In this structure, where geometric compositions are dominant, it is stated that the master is from Marend in two small cartridges made with the engraving technique.

The domed space of the 13th century Old Malatya Great Mosque and the tiles in the iwan and courtyard portico are successful and magnificent examples of this architectural decoration. As stated in the tile inscriptions made in the engraving technique, the fact that the masters are from Malatya reveals that this art is now successfully practiced by Anatolian artists.

Tile Samples in Seljuk and Konya

The tiles that adorn the architectural structures in Konya, the most important center of the Anatolian Seljuks, show that the city is also a distinguished center in this branch of art. There are tile decorations in the mihrab of Alaeddin Mosque and in the transition area to the dome. In addition, the mosaic tile decorations on the iwan of the Sırçalı Madrasa (1243) are important in that the inscription contains the name of an artist from Tus. It is understood from the similarities seen in other works that this artist, who comes from a family from Tus, Iran, was active in Konya and its surroundings in Anatolia.

Konya Karatay Madrasa Tiles

Konya Karatay Madrasa (1251) reveals the superior level reached by mosaic tile art in the Seljuk period, with mosaic tile decorations covering almost every part of the building, especially on the dome. When the compositions are looked at carefully, it is understood that the mosaic tiles in this structure were placed in a serious and deliberate manner. Again, the tile decorations of the Owner Ata Mosque and Complex (1258-1283) in Konya reveal the development and widespread use in architecture in the Seljuk period.

The mihrab of the mosque, the body of the minaret, the sarcophagi inside the tomb, the arches, and the openwork window networks are all covered with outstanding examples of Seljuk tile art. In these examples, it is seen that plant motifs cover larger areas.

Sivas Gök Madrasa Tiles

The Gök Madrasa (1272) in Sivas shows the point that Seljuk tile art reached towards the end of the 13th century. The interior of the iwan vault reveals that mosaic tiles were also used as reliefs. In addition, the decoration of the back wall of the iwan is interesting in that it shows that mosaic tiles were used entirely in Anatolia, instead of the plain brick decoration seen in Seljuk buildings in Iran. The tiles on the iwan façade of the Gök Madrasa in Tokat give a summary of the motifs used in the mosaic tiles of the Seljuk period.

There is a lotus-palmette frieze cut from red brick and turquoise tiles on the entrance iwan of Taş Madrasa (1278) in the town of Çay. The tiles in its mihrab, on the other hand, present a form of decoration that has been applied for the first and last time in Turkish tile art. An original arrangement was created by combining a knot motif created with turquoise and purple tiles and seen in Byzantine art, with eight-pointed stars inscribed "Allah" and "Ali".

historical mosques

The magnificent mihrab of the Arslanhane Mosque in Ankara indicates the wealth and technical development reached at the end of the 13th century. Plaster decoration also has an important place in the mihrab, where turquoise and dark blue mosaic tiles are used. Unfortunately, the palaces and mansions of the Seljuk period have not survived to the present day. But as a result of the excavations, it was understood that these structures were covered with rich tile decoration. Called Alaeddin Mansion in Konya, but İŞ. In the ruins of the building, which was started to be built in the time of Kılıçarslan, tiles made with the technique called "Minaî", which was used only here in Anatolian Seljuk art, were found.

The paste of these tiles is yellowish in color, and alkaline lime is used as a binder in the paste. The dough, which was kneaded very well, was formed into a sheet and glazed without lining. In these tiles, in which seven colors were used, green, dark blue, purple and turquoise colors, which are resistant to high temperatures, were painted under glaze and then patterns were made. It was then repainted over the glaze with black, brick red, white and gold gilding and then re-baked at a milder temperature. With this technique, which was very difficult to apply, quality products were produced. In star, cross-shaped diamond and square tile plates made with this technique,

Seljuk Period Tile Patterns

In addition to the throne and hunting scenes reflecting the palace life of the Seljuk period, various animals and stylized plants can also be seen. In the palaces of Kayseri Keykubadiye (1224-26) and Beyşehir Kubad Abad (1226-37), which were built by Sultan Alaeddin Keykubad I, square, eight-pointed star and cross. The tile plates were made with the technique of painting under the glaze and polishing on the glaze giving a metallic shine. In Keykubadiye Palace, besides geometric motifs, square tiles with curved branch ornaments making spirals with black under turquoise glaze were also used. Kubad Abad Palace in Beyşehir contained many figured tiles. The finishing technique was also used in this building. In this technique, the pattern was embroidered with a mixture of silver or copper oxide on matte white or purple and turquoise glazed tiles, and the tile was re-fired at a low temperature. Thus, the metal mixture in the oxides covered the decoration on the tile surface in a thin layer.

The eight-pointed star-shaped plates placed between the cruciform tiles contained a wide variety of human and animal figures. These examples show the Seljuks' understanding of depiction enriched with worldly and symbolic meanings. The use of tiles in the period of the principalities is not as magnificent as in the Seljuks. But in some instances, this art still continues to be successful. Especially the Mosque of Eşrefoğlu Beyşehir (1299) in Beyşehir and the tomb (1301) adjacent to it have the most magnificent tile decorations of this period. The inner door, which provides the entrance to the mosque and carries the inscription, is like an arch emphasizing the victory of the art of tiles with its mosaic tile coating. In the mosaic tiles covering the dome of the tomb, intricate floral motifs have begun to dominate.

The fact that the mosaic tile was applied in pentagonal plates here also reveals a technical feature. The mosaic tile decoration continues even when the altar and the arch carrying the dome in front of the altar in Birgi Ulu Mosque (1313) of Aydınoğlu Principality is removed. In the Isa Bey Mosque (1374) in Selcuk of the same principality, the transition area to the first dome on the axis of the mihrab is covered with bricks and star-shaped tiles.

Mosaic Tile Ornament

Mosaic tile decoration is also present in the Karamanli Principality, which is the closest follower of Seljuk art. But this time, plaster was used as inlaid in ornamentation. The altar of the Hasbey Darülhıffazı (1421) in Konya and the mosaic tiles in the transition area to the dome maintain the Seljuk period characteristics. However, in the flamboyant altar of the İbrahim Bey Imaret (1433) in Karaman, exhibited in the Tiled Kiosk in Istanbul today, we find the effects of Ottoman tile art. To the same effects, II. Adjacent to the Imaret of the Germiyanoğlu Principality in Kütahya. We also come across rectangular plate tiles made with colored glaze painting technique on the borders of the embankment where Yakup Bey's Tomb (1429) is located.

Tile Art in Ottoman

The art of tiles in the Ottomans has shown great progress and richness with the application of various techniques since its beginning. The tile decorations of Bursa Yeşil Mosque (1419-22) and its social complex exhibit the level reached by tile in the early Ottoman art. In the "colored glaze" technique used in this structure, the contours of the pattern are embroidered by deep engraving or printing on red paste, then painted with colored glazes and baked. In another form, the red paste plate is lined with a white slip, and the contours of the pattern are drawn with a sugary substance mixed with chrome and manganese. Then it is painted with colored glazes and fired. The colored glazes that melt as a result of baking are prevented from flowing into each other thanks to the swelling contours.

There has been a richness in colors with the addition of white, yellow, pistachio green and magenta. In addition, compositions from Hatayi and Far East origin patterns such as peonies have joined the art of tiles. Ali bin İlyas Ali has a great share in the contribution of these innovations to the art of tiles. The master, who was originally from Bursa, was taken to Samarkand by Timur in 1402, where he learned the new technique and style, and realized the products in Bursa with the masters from Tabriz, which he brought with him on his return. In addition, the name Muhammed el Majnun, also inscribed with tiles, in the fully tiled sultan's mahfil of the Green Mosque is like a proud signature of the master who made this section.

Bursa Green Tomb

The vase with flowers gushing between the two candlesticks in the altar of the Green Tomb and the composition of the oil lamp hanging on the top reveal the changing ornament style. The sarcophagus of Çelebi Sultan Mehmed, completely covered with tiles in the colored glaze technique, is one of the most magnificent of the tiled sarcophagi. In the Muradiye Mosque and Madrasa (1425) in Bursa, the more limited decorations consisted of single color glazed plate tiles in various forms with mosaic and colored glaze painting technique.

Edirne Muradiye Mosque Tiles

The tiles of Edirne Muradiye Mosque (1436), on the other hand, exhibit the development of tile in the early Ottoman tile art. The mihrab of the mosque shows a technical stage formed by the use of blue-white technique tiles under a transparent colorless glaze, together with the colored glaze technique. In the rich rumi folds surrounded by knotted bands inside the mihrab, a stylistic unity is perceived that integrates with the illumination and hand-drawn ornaments of the period. In addition, various herbal ornaments, most of which are of Far Eastern origin, add richness to the compositions. Hexagonal tile plates with blue-white ornaments under glaze combine with triangular turquoise colored tile plates placed between them and cover the walls.

Edirne Mosque Tiles

It is seen that turquoise and magenta are added to the blue-white applied under the transparent glaze on the plates on the two tile pediments in the courtyard of the Edirne Üç Balcony Mosque (1437-47). Small flowers, curved branches that make spirals and written inscriptions are the main patterns of the ornament in this structure.15. The color glaze painting technique of the 16th century continued, especially in Istanbul. It is understood that on the tiles of Yavuz Sultan Selim Mosque and Tomb (1522), the empty areas left unglazed in the colored glaze painting technique were colored with red paint after firing. On the other hand, architectural forms including columns, capital and pedestal are seen in the ceramic ornaments covering the interior of the tomb of Prince Mehmet (1548). Here, the idea of ​​a portico carried by columns is depicted. These examples reveal the most common use of the colored glaze technique, which is compatible with architecture.

Underglaze Tile Technique

After the second half of the 16th century, all techniques are abandoned. Only the technique called "underglaze" begins to be used. In this technique, first a primer is applied to the tiles, then the desired sample is drawn with its outlines and the interior is painted in the desired colors. After the prepared tile plate is dipped into the glaze and dried, it is given to the oven. All colors emerge brightly under the transparent glaze, which becomes a thin layer of glass in the oven. An original coral red is also added to the colors during this period, which will only last for half a century. In these tiles, which are made with a very high quality technique and an elegant pattern understanding, various flowers such as tulips, hyacinths, carnations, roses and rosebuds, irises and daffodils, bunches of grapes, spring blooming trees, cypress and even apple trees, all drawn with a naturalistic understanding, enriches compositions with a creative power.

In addition, there are sharp-toothed leaves curled in the form of daggers and bird figures in various postures among them, and sometimes some mythical animals. There is no doubt that the creative power of the miniaturists of the Ottoman palace was a factor in this enrichment. Especially the muralists, who worked under the direction of masters such as Şahkulu and Karamemi, created various patterns for the tile masters. The Ottoman palace style, created by this lush source, provided a stylistic integrity in the art of tiles along with various works of art in this period.

Istanbul Mosque Tiles

The mihrab wall of the Suleymaniye Mosque in Istanbul (1550-57) clearly reveals the new style with the tiles in which the red color was used for the first time, the branches in bloom and naturalistic flowers such as tulips and carnations gushing from their bottoms. The inscribed medallions on both sides of the mihrab are the products of Karahisari, the great calligrapher of the period, and Hasan Çelebi. .
Sokullu Mehmet Pasha Mosque (1571) in Istanbul Kadırga has a successful arrangement that does not overwhelm the architecture, with the tile decorations on the pendentive transition part of the dome, on the window pediments, on the wall around the marble mihrab and on the cone of the pulpit. In addition, the ornaments of the tiled altar of the Istanbul Piyale Pasha Mosque (1573) display similarities with the fabric patterns of the period.

Edirne Selimiye Mosque Tiles

The tiles of Edirne Selimiye Mosque (1569-75) were specially ordered for Iznik, as understood from the edicts dated 1572. This building most successfully reveals the conscious placement of the tile decoration, which is compatible with the architecture and does not overwhelm the architectural superiority. The mihrab wall, the pulpit pavilion wall, the corners of the arches carrying the galleries, the window pediments and especially the sultan's lodge are covered with the best quality tiles of the period. The tiles in the Sultan's mahfil crown the superiority achieved in the second half of the 16th century with spring blooming trees and apple trees.
Atik Valide Mosque (1583) in Üsküdar, with its tile panels rising on both sides of the mihrab wall, various flowers overflowing from the vase, and spring blooming trees, has the power to be a source for the 17th century tile art. There has been a technical pause and regression in tile art since the first half of the 17th century. starts. Coral red turns into brown, other colors fade, and flows appear under glaze. Glaze loses its shine, cracks appear, and the white background becomes dirty and mottled. The patterns, on the other hand, maintain their former strength for a while, but gradually lose their refinement and become dull.

Sultan Ahmet Mosque Tiles

The solid black outlines are replaced by a thin blue color. Istanbul Sultan Ahmed Mosque (1609-17) is the last great building where examples of the heyday of Turkish tile art are collected. According to the records, 21043 tiles were used in this building. Especially the spring blooming trees, cypress trees wrapped in vine branches, bunches of grapes, tulips, hyacinths, bunches of cloves, large peonies surrounded by Chinese clouds and symbolic three-ball patterns, starry geometry interlacings, which can be seen from the tile panels covering the walls of the upper floor mahfils, can be seen separately. The fact that they were put together in panels suggests that these are collected tiles. In this building, Iznik and Kütahya tiles of the second half of the 16th century and the beginning of the 17th century were used together. The tiles of the Topkapi Palace collectively reveal all the periods of Ottoman tile art.

Topkapi Palace and Tiled Kiosk Tiles

The Tiled Kiosk (1472), built by Fatih Sultan Mehmet and now located in the garden of the Archaeological Museums, is a monumental building that reveals the stylistic development of mosaic tile art in the first Ottoman period with new compositions and colors. Geometric compositions, large kufic and thuluth inscriptions increase the effect in the entrance section, which opens to the outside in the form of an ostentatious iwan. The tiles made in the colored glaze technique on the façade of the Topkapı Palace Supply Room bear the characteristics of the examples from the beginning of the 16th century. One of the sections in Topkapı Palace, where the best quality tiles of the second half of the 16th century are found, is the Hırka-i Saadet Office.

The double bird panels on the spring-bloomed trees are important as they show that the bright red color was used on a large area. Sultan . The tiles in the Murad Apartment (1578) cover all the walls up to the skirt of the dome. In these quality tiles of the second half of the 16th century, Chinese clouds with red and green colors on a white background, pomegranate flowers and curved toothed leaves are seen. The spring-branched composition on both sides of the hearth cone is placed in accordance with its location.

Topkapi Palace Tiles

The facade of the Circumcision Room dated 1640 is decorated with tiles from various periods. In the period when quality tiles could no longer be made, tiles in the palace warehouses or those brought from other places were used in this building. 1.20 x 0.34 m. There are bird figures in various stances on a branch with a peony and curled large leaves with turquoise and blue tones on a white background, and two legendary deer figures of Far East origin on the lower part. On a smaller panel, similar to these panels, which are obviously shaped according to the patterns of the palace muralists, there are bird figures on a branch with curved leaves and flowers coming out of a vase. What is interesting is that similar boards are also found in the Baghdad Mansion dated 1639.

Circumcision Room Tiles

However, here the composition is not formed as a monolithic panel, but by combining seven separate panels. These tiles, despite their somewhat roughened style and technical flaws, are quite successful copies made by looking at the originals from the 16th century in the Circumcision Chamber. In the Harem section, where the 17th century tile art still maintains its creative power in terms of patterns, the tile coverings in the Valide Sultan and the Princes' Rooms, various flowers overflowing from the vases and spring trees give the place the appearance of a paradise garden. Another contribution of the 17th century in this area is the depictions of Mecca and Medina in Turkish tile art. Such a panel is also in the Valide Sultan prayer room. The fact that such boards have inscriptions also gives them the quality of documents. In this period, Kütahya started to replace the decreasing effectiveness of İznik.

Ottoman Uskudar Mosque Tiles

Üsküdar Tiled Mosque (1640) reveals the success of Kütahya tiles reminiscent of Iznik products with its mihrab, pulpit cone and niche walls. The tiles of the Istanbul New Mosque and Complex (1663), on the other hand, show that a wide variety of patterns are still used, despite the technical decline in the second half of the 17th century. In almost every part of the building, tiles with green, turquoise and dark blue colors are found. At the beginning of the century, the Iznik tiles could not be revived and came to an end. Sultan I.I. Ahmed and Grand Vizier Damat İbrahim Pasha attempt to revive the Turkish tile art.

Tekfur Palace Tiles

A new workshop is established in Istanbul Tekfur Palace with the foreman and furnace materials brought from Iznik. At first, similar Iznik tiles are made. However, this trial was also very short and after 25 years Tekfur tile making came to an end. The most interesting examples of these products, collected under the name of Tekfur Palace tiles, are in Hekimoğlu Ali Paşa Mosque (1734) and Sultan III. It is located under the eaves of the Ahmet Fountain (1732). Although it is similar to Iznik tiles in terms of pattern, the construction technique of Tekfur Palace tiles is not successful. Glazes took on a blue hue, cracks appeared, and colors began to fade and flow. Yellow and orange, which were not seen in tile art until then, were added to these tiles in the underglaze technique. Besides this short-lived effort,

Kütahya Tile History

Kütahya continued its activity as the only tile center throughout the 18th century. However, far from the splendor of the palace art, flower bouquets and rosettes, which were formed according to the schematic style of folk art, emerged. Üsküdar Yeni Valide Mosque (1708), the tiles placed during the repair of the Kütahya Hisar Bey Mosque in 1750, the tiles found in various parts of the Antalya Müsellim Mosque (1796) and Topkapı Palace reflect the characteristics of this period. These features change to a new revival in the early 20th century, dominated by the Neo-Classical style. see

Iznik Tile

Successful examples are given by returning to the classical patterns of Iznik tiles. The tile panels covering the interior of the Sultan Mehmet Reşad Tomb in Eyüp (1918), cypress trees with vine leaves, flowers overflowing from the vase, spring trees, and the variety of colors added in red reveal this revival.
The magnificent examples of Ottoman tile art, albeit on a small scale, were tried to be revived at the beginning of the 20th century. Kütahya tile making continues its existence with examples reminding the bright past of Turkish tile art from time to time.

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