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Identification and Creation
Object Number
2002.50.108
Title
Tile with Composite Flowers and Saz Leaves
Classification
Architectural Elements
Work Type
architectural element
Date
c.1585-1595
Places
Creation Place: Middle East, Turkey, Iznik
Period
Ottoman period
Physical Descriptions
Medium
Fritware painted with blue (cobalt), turquoise (copper), green (copper and iron), and red (iron) under clear lead alkali glaze
Technique
Underglazed, painted
Dimensions
31.2 x 31 x 1.5 cm (12 5/16 x 12 3/16 x 9/16 in.)
Provenance
[Mansour Gallery, London, 1992], gift; to Stanford and Norma Jean Calderwood, Belmont, MA (1992-2002), gift; to Harvard Art Museums, 2002.
Acquisition and Rights
Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, The Norma Jean Calderwood Collection of Islamic Art
Accession Year
2002
Object Number
2002.50.108
Division
Asian and Mediterranean Art
Contact
am_asianmediterranean@harvard.edu
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Descriptions
Description
Production of ceramic tiles and vessels reached a peak under Ottoman court patronage in the sixteenth century. The court studio provided designs to semi-autonomous workshops in Iznik, which manufactured tiles for numerous large-scale imperial projects.
With its white ground and foliate decoration in brilliant cobalt blue, emerald green, turquoise, and slightly raised red, this square tile exemplifies the technical achievements of the second half of the century. The dominant motif is a composite flower, which alternates direction across the middle of the tile. Serrated leaves known as saz grow from the base of each palmette. Smaller bisected palmettes of a different form are horizontally positioned at the top and bottom edges of the tile. When this tile was juxtaposed with others of the same design, a continuous repeating pattern resulted.
Identical tiles can now be seen under the pendentives on the north and south walls ofthe chamber of Sultan Murad III (r. 1574– 95), built in 1578–79 in the harem of Topkapi Palace by the illustrious architect Sinan. It is likely, however, that these tiles are not original to the room itself but were made for a different part of the harem, either later in Murad’s reign or during that of his successor Mehmed III (r. 1595–1603), and were subsequently reinstalled in Murad’s chamber, perhaps after damage caused by a fire or an earthquake. Stylistically similar tiles are found in their original location in the 1585–86 mosque of Ramazan Efendi in Istanbul.

Published Catalogue Text: In Harmony: The Norma Jean Calderwood Collection of Islamic Art , written 2013
43

Tile with composite flowers and saz leaves Turkey, Iznik, Ottoman period, c. 1585–95
Fritware painted with blue (cobalt), turquoise (copper), green (copper and iron), and red (iron) under clear lead alkali glaze
31.2 × 31 cm (12 5/16 × 12 3/16 in.)
2002.50.108

Production of ceramic tiles and vessels reached a peak under Ottoman court patronage in the sixteenth century. The court studio provided designs to semi-autonomous workshops in Iznik, which manufactured tiles for numerous large-scale imperial projects.

With its white ground and foliate decoration in brilliant cobalt blue, emerald green, turquoise, and slightly raised red, this square tile exemplifies the technical achievements of the second half of the century. The dominant motif is a composite flower, which alternates direction across the middle of the tile. Serrated leaves known as saz grow from the base of each palmette. Smaller bisected palmettes of a different form are horizontally positioned at the top and bottom edges of the tile. When this tile was juxtaposed with others of the same design, a continuous repeating pattern resulted.[1]

Identical tiles can now be seen under the pendentives on the north and south walls of the chamber of Sultan Murad III (r. 1574–95), built in 1578–79 in the harem of Topkapı Palace by the illustrious architect Sinan.[2] It is likely, however, that these tiles are not original to the room itself [3] but were made for a different part of the harem, either later in Murad’s reign[4] or during that of his successor Mehmed III (r. 1595–1603),[5] and were subsequently reinstalled in Murad’s chamber, perhaps after damage caused by a fire or an earthquake.[6] Stylistically similar tiles are found in their original location in the 1585–86 mosque of Ramazan Efendi in Istanbul.[7]

Ayşin Yoltar-Yıldırım

[1] A panel of these tiles, showing their continuous design, is in the Tareq Rajab Museum. See Fehérvári 2000, 314. Also see Rogers 2002, 196–97, cat. 133. Two smaller (25.4 × 25.4 cm) tiles with a very similar but asymmetrically placed design are in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London (447-1900 and 447A-1900).
[2] Necipoğlu 1991, 165–71.
[3] See Bilgi 2009, 204, for the original, smaller (25 × 25 cm) tiles covering the rest of the room.
[4] The contemporary Ottoman historian Selânikî mentions a tiled room, pools, and a bath rebuilt in the harem in 1585: see Selânikî 1989, 1:157.
[5] Additionally, eight tiled rooms and a bath were rebuilt in 1595, during the reign of Mehmed III: see Selânikî 1989, 2:490, 525, and especially 539.
[6] Restorations undertaken in the twentieth century did not include these walls: see Anhegger-Eyüboğlu, 1986, 81–86. I am thankful to Dr. Filiz Çağman, former director of the Topkapı Palace Museum, for discussing these tiles and their possible history within the palace.
[7] Bilgi 2009, 206.

Publication History

Jessica Chloros, "An Investigation of Cobalt Pigment on Islamic Ceramics at the Harvard Art Museums" (thesis (certificate in conservation), Straus Center for Conservation and Technical Studies, 2008), Unpublished, pp. 1-41 passim

Mary McWilliams, ed., In Harmony: The Norma Jean Calderwood Collection of Islamic Art, exh. cat., Harvard Art Museums (Cambridge, MA, 2013), pp. 53-55, ill.; pp. 156-157, ill.; p. 161, ill.; pp. 197-198, cat. 43, ill.

Exhibition History

In Harmony: The Norma Jean Calderwood Collection of Islamic Art, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 01/31/2013 - 06/01/2013

This record has been reviewed by the curatorial staff but may be incomplete. Our records are frequently revised and enhanced. For more information please contact the Division of Asian and Mediterranean Art at am_asianmediterranean@harvard.edu