Siliceous ceramic of seldjoukide inspiration, with polychrome decor of branches, flowers and birds. Diameter 68 cm, depth 0,65 cm.
Date of entry at UNESCO
Country of origin Turkey
Donating country Turkey
Donation made to UNESCO by Turkey
© Photo: UNESCO/N. Aftis
All rights reserved

This Turkish ceramic plate is of Seljuk inspiration. The Art of ceramics, considered one of the "arts of fire", is one of the main artistic mediums in Islamic countries. It is divided into two general categories: shaped pieces (including tableware) and tiles for walls. Ceramic underwent two significant changes between the ninth and fifteenth century. Under the reign of the Abbasids (ninth-tenth centuries) a claylike material was used, composed mainly of clay and a degreasing element, such as sand. However it is under this dynasty that two revolutionary techniques appeared for the first time: firstly, earthenware which allowed the clay to be covered by an opaque, generally blue, glaze in order to imitate Chinese porcelain, very popular in the European countries; and secondly, metallic luster, which is meant to mimic metal by incorporating metal salts into already fired clay objects. The luster can take on several colors, going from brown to red or even gold.

During the eleventh century and until the end of the twelfth century, nomads from Mongolia put in place the Seljuk dynasty, first in Baghdad, and later in Iran. This marked the appearance of siliceous ceramics, hence the name of the earthenware dish of "Seljuk inspiration", which indicates the technique used for the ceramic. The haftrang technique (meaning "seven colors" in Persian) added to the siliceous paste –which predominantly includes sillica (sand) and little clay- allows for nuanced shades thanks to the seven basic colors: red, white, black, gold, green, brown and blue.

This siliceous ceramic dish has three dominant colors: gold, red and green. The flowers are the base of Ottoman decoration. The motifs are destined for decoration and do not have any specific symbolism, hence differing from European ceramics. Siliceous paste was used until its height, sometime between the sixteenth and the seventeenth centuries, and the appearance of Iznik ceramics.

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