Turkey has one of the oldest traditions of the manufacture
of fired earthenware in the world, stretching back almost
ten thousand years towards the end of the last ice age.
Traditional Turkish ceramics, or ‘çini’
as they are known in turkish are appreciated around
the world for their strength, colour and design. These
qualities persist throughout the evolution of civilization
in Turkey, from the Bronze Age, the rise and fall of
the Hittites and later domination of mainland Turkey
by the Greeks and the Romans, to the Byzantines and
finally the Ottoman Turks themselves.
In the 12th Century when Seljukid Turks used tiles to
embellish their buildings, the motifs were geometric
in character and the dominant colours were blue and
turquoise. However, between the15th and the17th Centuries
Ottoman Empire period the colours became more vivid,
the designs more complex and balanced. In addition to
the blue and turquoise there were greens and purples
in varying hues and finally coral and tomato reds were
ceramic art reached it’s zenith in Iznik (formerly
known as Nicea) encouraged by the patronage of the Ottoman
Court. The splendour of Iznik high fired pottery and
tile manufacture reached it’s peak in the 16th
Century and is unlike anything else produced in either
the East or the West with designs more complex and balanced.
During those times there were once over 300 ceramic
workshops, according to the Ottoman travel writer Evliya
Çelebi from Kütahya.
In this period ceramics were used in architecture to
fill three dimensional space and also for everyday use
as ornamentation of plain surfaces. The things which
make Ottoman ceramics invaluable are their strength
which challenges centuries, the unfading dynamic colours
which are vividly translucent and harmonious, and the
unique use of stylized motifs such as the lotus, the
tree of life, plant and flower motifs (some of which
carry deep and meaningful explanations).
The raw materials used for ceramics are kaolin (60%),
which is high in silica content, clay (20%) and calcite.
After successive processes, that include ball mining
and filter pressing, the compound is ready for the potter’s
throwing wheel where it is moulded by hand into vessels
such as vases, tankards or jars. The resulting wares
are then covered with a thin coating of ‘slip’
to make the body whiter. They are then fired at a temperature
of up to 950-980 degrees Celsius to obtain the ‘biscuit’
on which the motives are drawn, painted, glazed and
fired once again to achieve the final product.
Vivaldi – Ceramics and Glass
Today this art form is being relived by the world famous
‘Ismail Yigit’ who is systematically working
his way through the whole repertoire of Iznik masterpieces
in all over the world’s museums, ‘making
faithful replicas’ as stated by John Carswell,
who is a specialist in Turkish ceramics.
Vivaldi, with the support and trust of ‘Ismail
Yigit’and his workshop ‘Marmara Çini’
are displaying a wide range of traditional Turkish ceramics
in their store in the heart of Bodrum. The display in
Vivaldi constitutes hundreds of commercial pieces together
with a rare collection of 14th, 15th and 16th Century
replicas meticulously prepared using the traditional
methods by Ismail Yigit.
The strains of Vivaldi and all your other Classical
favourites will delight the ear before you see what
other treasures are in this shop. Gifts and souvenirs
of all shapes and sizes together with a very special
collection of glassware which is a true example of traditional
handicraft created by the oldest glass making technology
‘fusion glass’, which we are preserving
for future generations.
One of the owners of this store, Okan Özsoy with
the master potter Ismail Yigit, are preparing to leave
for London to participate in Europe's largest arts and
crafts exhibition called Art in Action held in Oxford
between the dates of July 17-20.
There they will demonstrate the techniques and skills
required in preparing traditional Turkish ceramics.