Dish with tugrakes spiral style decoration. Turkey, “Iznik”, 1530-40.
Stonepaste, underglaze painting over a siliceous slip coating. The fine volutes that characterize this dish are directly inspired by the scrolls that from the 1520s onward adorned the imperial monograms (tugra) of Süleyman the Magnificent (1520-66). The task of executing the tugra was allotted to a specialist craftsman, the “tugrakes”, whence the name “tugrakes spiral style” given by N. Atasoy and J. Raby to the group of ceramic wares of which it forms part. On ceramic wares in this group fine stems spiral or form undulating scrolls bearing tiny floral motifs and minute hook- or “s”-shaped commas. This rigorous decoration is generally painted in cobalt blue, sometimes enlivened with small blue and turquoise rumi arabesque medallions. The inscriptions running around the base and the neck ring indicate that the bottle was commissioned by an Armenian bishop, Ter Martinos, for a monument in Kütahya and that it was produced there. G. Necipoglu has however recently put forward the hypothesis that this production, which would seem to have enjoyed a certain degree of popularity and which has been found in various excavation contexts, could equally have been made in Istanbul, concurrently with Iznik and Kütahya.