First the historical bit. It is said that Turkish ceramic art dates back to the 8th and 9th centuries. With the Anatolian style being at its highest in the 13th Century. Mosques, tombs, palaces were all exquisitely decorated, some examples of which are still around in Konya, Sivas and Alanya, if you can take a trip to see these most beautiful works of art in situ. You will marvel at the intricacy and complexity of the designs and colours and sit in wonder as to how these ancient artists worked with such precision.
Luckily for us you don’t have to settle for a picture postcard or to just stare longingly trying to etch the scene on our memories, You can now take a piece of this beautiful art home with you. In almost every town and market you can purchase tiles, bowls, plates, candle holders ablaze with turquoise, red, green and cobalt.
One of my particular favourites is the Nazar Boncuk, commonly known as the Turkish Eye. On every house and wall in every cafe and restaurant even the dogs kennel you will see this single eye. This eye is said to be for protection and woe betide you if you haven’t got one. Needless to say I have several in different forms all over our apartment, you can’t be too careful.
Another popular design is the “Tulip” or “Lilly” as it is sometimes called, this design dates back to Ottoman times, they had a true love for flowers, especially the Tulip, with its elongated petals and slender leaves.
There are so many traditional styles like the Carnation (the national flower of Turkey) or the Cintamani which is three dots and a wavy line which is derived from leopard and tiger skins. A great favourite of the Ottoman artist was wildlife and flowers made into a geometric designs. Turkish ceramics are a dream and the moment you step onto Turkish soil you are sure see one design or another.
The markets, shops and bazaars are crammed full of modern day replicas that can be purchased quite cheaply. I am not saying that you can buy an ancient Turkish tile that once adorned a mosque wall (and if you are told this please don’t believe them) maybe an ashtray or a kettle stand. Either way you can take a little bit of Turkish art and culture back to your homeland.
Oh and don’t forget your Turkish Eye! They will be watching