Tile with arabesque decoration, early 15th century, Ottoman Anatolia (Bursa). Carved, glaze-painted, and gilded earthenware.
This tile matches a border frieze adorning the portal of the tomb of Sultan Mehmed I (r. 1403–21) in Bursa, where monuments were badly damaged in an 1855 earthquake. It has a deeply carved pattern of lattices formed by pairs of undulating vine scrolls that meet at regular intervals along the centerline. The interlacing of the arabesque lattices is complex, but clarity is achieved through the use of different colored glazes. The tile predates the period, later in the fifteenth century, of widespread Chinese influence on Ottoman Turkish ceramics. In its deep relief and choice of colors, it exhibits similarities to tiles of Timurid Central Asia dating from the late fourteenth century, a resemblance probably explained by the documented presence of Persian tileworkers in Bursa at that time.