Examples Of Handicrafts Exhibited In Western Anatolian Museums
Handicrafts surviving to this day from the time of Principalities and the early Ottoman period are simple and plain in look. Museums located along our cultural routes usually exhibit archaeological findings from the pre-Turkish period and ethnographic artifacts from the late Ottoman period. The limited number of earthenware, metal, carpet, and wooden artifacts from the 14th-15th centuries suggests that Turkish museums should give more importance to collections from the Turkish period. To get an idea of the handicrafts from the time of Principalities and the early Ottoman period, it is enough to look at the examples exhibited in Western Anatolian museums.
The materials and chance finds revealed during the excavations in Miletus, Beçin, Selçuk (Ephesus), İznik, and Edirne show that the earthenware from the time of Principalities and the early Ottoman period differ from the examples of Seljuk art. The most common examples are the Miletian earthenware, among the first excavation findings and the first to be exhibited. Especially the findings brought to light during the excavations in İznik, coupled with research conducted there, later showed that these earthenware had been made in İznik. Various examples of Miletian earthenware are exhibited in the museums of Bursa and İznik. Made for everyday use, these earthenware with red ceramics body are decorated with cobalt blue, black, turquoise, green plant patterns, rosettes, geometric shapes and radial lines under a transparent, colorless, sometimes turquoise glaze.
Excavations in Western Anatolia have unearthed in addition to Miletian pottery, examples of the sgrafitto technique, in which abstract shapes were embroidered with incised lines or patterns were made under glaze with a pasty coating called “slip”. The earthenware featured abstract plant and geometric motifs. Earthenware made using the slip technique is creamy, blue, green, brown or yellow, engraved under a transparent, colorless glaze. The motifs are lightly embossed.
The colors and patterns of the earthenware group, called blue-white because of its motley of colors, also feature in tile slabs, as mentioned above. İznik and Kütahya used to be the production centers of blue and white earthenware, produced in abundance in the 15th and 16th centuries. The ceramics body of very high quality blue and white earthenware is white and hard like porcelain. Spring flowers, peonies, leaves, vines, cloud and abstract dragon motifs engraved under a transparent, colorless glaze are reminiscent of Chinese Ming porcelain from the 15th century. The pattern drawn in shades of blue under a hard and quality transparent glaze is on a white background.
Various examples of blue and white earthenware are exhibited in the museums of İznik and Bursa. A rarer group of blue and white are earthenware, also in black color, with small hooked leaves and decorated with spiral ivy. As it was believed that they were made in the Golden Horn in Istanbul in the past, these earthenware were called Golden Horn earthenware. The production center of the spiral ivy blue-white, found in large quantities during the excavations in İznik, was İznik. Some pieces with inscriptions also indicate that these were made in İznik. Various examples of Golden Horn earthenware are exhibited in the museums of İznik and Bursa.
The blue and white shards found during the excavations in İznik give an idea of the different versions of this earthenware. An assortment of vases, goblets, cups, sugar bowls, plates, bowls, oil lamps, etc. and the remains of many tile stoves prove that İznik used to be the primary production center. As can be deduced from the inscriptions, edicts and the excavated pieces, blue and white earthenware were also produced in Kütahya. The manufacturing of blue and white earthenware continued in the 16th century in the classical Ottoman style with more realistic motifs (“The Legacy of the Principalities, Early Ottoman Art”, pp.31-32).