İznik Mavi Çini Saz Style in Tiling - İznik Mavi Çini
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Saz Style in Tiling

Saz Style in Tiling

3 November 2021

The Saz style first originated not in ceramics but in Iran as a drawing style and the leading representative of this style in the Ottoman Palace was the Şahkulu who was the head of cemaat-ı nakkaşan from the year 932/1526 to 1556 which was thought to be the date when he died.

The word Saz is used about a forest in the 14th century Dede Korkut legend. This is an appropriate definition for the overgrown leaf abundance that Şahkulu brought from Iran and introduced in Ottoman art. In the works of art that were linked to 15th century Herat and Tabriz schools; there were generally bears, lions, and monkeys hiding behind the saplings and leaves. However, the Ottomans took two important elements which they tailored to a decorative style from this forest. Saw-toothed leaves known as the dagger in Turkey as they are in the form of a dagger or they resemble a dagger and a voluminous palmette or rosette. The movements of the dagger leaves that encircle an axis create a contrast with the immobile role of the roses which usually play the role of the axis. It may be possible to name this style ‘Saz leaf and Rosette style’ in order to express the merging of these two elements.

Saz style was not applied to art environments other than book art. One of the first structures that the style was freely applied to is the tomb that was made by Sinan for Şehzade Mehmet, the dearest son of Suleiman the Magnificent. The style here is seen in the chisel works in the casements and more apparent in the comprehensive colorful glazed tiles. The two most beautiful examples of the saz style are dated almost the same as the Şehzade Mehmet Tomb. These are two spectacular silk kaftans, one of them having a black background and the other a cream background. These kaftans, both adorned elegantly with an exuberant saz style, were wrongly attributed to Bayezid II first and then to Mustafa II. But the death date of Şehzade Mustafa brings to mind that the kaftans were made in the 1540s or at the beginning of the 1550s and this matches with the dating that is suggested for İznik ceramics. (Atasoy Nurhan, “İznik”, p.133)


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