Friday, February 27, 2015

Turkish Showcase: A Closer Look at Traditional Art Forms

In Turkey, the most important media forms happen to be applied art, meaning that pieces were not simply expected to look beautiful but also serve a specific, functional purpose.

via Flickr by G.OZCAN
Everyday objects and belongings that also make lives more beautiful? We’re all about that here at Robin Street Market! Today we’ve decided to highlight three of these stunning applied art forms: ebru, Iznik pottery, and carpet weaving.


Ebru, or paper marbling, is a fascinating process that results in one-of-a-kind pieces of artwork. This technique originally flourished under the Ottoman Empire in the 15th and 16th centuries; at this time book-lovers came to prize and cherish this art form, and it made a significant impact on book art in Europe. It has since maintained its popularity.

The technique actually involves creating a painting on the surface of a water and tragacanth bath using ox-gall paints and a horse-hair brush. The tragacanth acts as a thickening agent that allows the paint to be manipulated on the surface. Once complete, the artist carefully lays the paper over the bath and the picture is transferred.

Are you still curious about the traditional ebru technique? Check out this quick video to see how it’s done:

Iznik Pottery

Originally named after a town in Western Anatolia, these decorated ceramic pieces were produced from the end of the 15th century to the end of the 17th century. At this time, the town of Iznik was already an established centre for basic pottery, but towards the end of the 15th century, the craftsmen began to produce pottery with a fritware body and a trendy cobalt blue paint underneath a transparent lead glaze. This change was likely a result of the high value that the Ottoman court placed on Chinese blue and white porcelain.

via Flickr by Jean-Pierre Dalbéra
As time went on, the Turkish craftsmen added more colours and the style of pottery evolved to more closely reflect the Turkish culture. Today, most of the surviving Iznik pottery is held in museums outside of Turkey and, even though this particular type of pottery is no longer being produced, the value and appreciation for ceramic arts is still highly visible throughout the country.

Carpet Weaving

Kilim, Soumak, Cicim, Zili – these are all different terms for Turkish carpet weaving. Whether hand-knotted or flat woven, Turkish carpets are some of the most renowned hand-crafted art works in the world. Carpet weaving began out of necessity, but quickly developed into a highly specialized and regarded art form.

The oldest known Turkish carpet, fondly referred to as the Pazyryk rug, dates from 500 B.C. and is now kept at the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg. This important part of Turkish history depicts horsemen, deer, mythic animals and floral motifs. By the rise of the Ottoman Empire, carpets became a very important export item with reach throughout Europe.

via Flickr by Shankar S.

The carpet designs reflect Turkish culture, daily lives, as well as climatic and geographic conditions. Turkish rugs have distinguishing features that set them apart from Persian carpets – primarily the double knot technique and distinct colour scheme.