Iran and Turkey

Catal Hüyük, 6250-5400 BC, Turkey

The Seljuk dynasty that ruled Iran, Iraq, Asia Minor, and Syria in the 12th and 13th centuries found substitutes for porcelain, and the Iranian cities of Rayy and Kāshān became centers for this white ware.

Another fine Seljuk type was Mina’i ware, an enamel-overglaze pottery that, in its delicacy, imitated illuminated manuscripts. Kāshān potters, after the 13th-century Mongol conquests, used green glazes influenced by Chinese celadons. Cobalt-blue glazes appeared in Iran in the 9th century but later fell out of use. They were taken up again in the 14th to the 18th century in response to the popularity of blue-and-white ware with Chinese and European clients.

İznik was the center for Turkish pottery. There slip-painted pieces influenced by Persian and Afghanistani ware predated the Ottoman Turks’ conquest of the region. Later, between 1490 and 1700, İznik ware displayed decorations painted under a thin transparent glaze on a loose-textured white body; in its three stages the designs were in cobalt blue, then turquoise and purple, then red.

During the Safavid dynasty, Kubachi ware, contemporary to İznik pottery, was probably made in northwestern Iran, and not at the town of Kubachi where it was found. Characteristic Kubachi pieces were large polychrome plates, painted underneath their crackle glazes. Gombroon ware, exported from that Persian Gulf port to Europe and the Far East in the 16th and 17th centuries, featured incised decorations on translucent white earthenware bodies. Copper-colored Persian lusterware was fashionable in the 17th century, as was polychrome painted ware.

In general, Islamic pottery was made in molds. Shapes were either Chinese inspired or were the basic shapes of metalwork. In addition to lusterware, the most creative work was the manufacture of tiles for mosques.

  • Catal Hüyük, 6250-5400 BC, Turkey
  • Isnik, 1600 AD, Turkey, National Gallery Prague