Dish with radial design, ca. 1580-1590 (Ottoman Period, 1299-1923)
Stonepaste; blue painted under transparent glaze
Overall: 2 1/4 in x 11 1/2 in; 5.7 cm x 29.2 cm
Purchase with the Warbeke Art Museum Fund
The Ottoman Empire controlled a vast region covering all of modern-day Turkey as well as parts of the Middle East, Europe, and North Africa. The center of ceramic production for this powerful empire was Iznik, in northeastern Turkey. The ceramic workshops of this city produced dishes and tiles for the Ottoman sultans for their palace in Istanbul. These potters also used the same royal designs on commercial wares to be sold across the Empire to those wealthy enough to afford these luxurious vessels. This dish’s color scheme is indebted to Chinese porcelain, a prized import commodity in the Ottoman Empire, and many of the motifs are stylized versions of those found on Ming dynasty blue-and-white wares.
This dish was manufactured by skilled artisans at Iznik, a town not far from Istanbul in northwest Anatolia (modern-day Turkey). The design of this blue-and-white example employs a relaxed symmetry and a rhythmic repetition of stylized motifs that evoke notions of Paradise. At first glance, the decorative scheme appears highly geometric, but there are subtle references to the natural world in the tulips and the rock-and-wave border. The latter element is a central one in ceramic traditions of the Ottoman Empire although its source is found in Ming and Yuan dynasty Chinese porcelain. Iznik blue-and-white wares, however, were infused with a uniquely Turkish character. They were also popular among aristocrats of the time wishing to emulate the collecting of Chinese ceramics by Ottoman rulers.