The Islamic style is distinguished by the novelty and extraordinary quality of techniques used in the making of utilitarian objects. These techniques include the application of lustrous glazes and rich colors in ceramics and glassware; intricate silver inlays that transform the surfaces of bronze metalwork; lavish molded stucco and carved wood wall panels; and endlessly varied motifs woven into textiles and rugs. In nearly all instances the objects decorated—whether ewers, cooking cauldrons, candlesticks, or pen cases—served fundamentally practical purposes; their aesthetic effect was aimed above all at making the daily activities or architectural setting more pleasurable.
In the Moslem world a concrete message is transmitted through its abstract forms. The Moslems tended to reject the representation of the visible in their art to emphasize that visible reality is but an illusion and that Allah alone is true. Abstraction thus became a way to make a very specific theological point.
Another characteristic of Islamic art is its rejection of the representation of religious images and other living beings. Islamic art modified the art of previous centuries by tending to avoid the representation of humans and animals.
A strong, centralized state, the Ottoman Empire concentrated its creative energies on the development of a uniquely logical mosque architecture. As early as the 14C and 15C, in Bursa and Iznik, the Ottomans chose to use the single dome as the focal compositional element of their monuments. This fascination with the cupola was in large part inspired by the Byzantine church of the Hagia Sophia and culminated in the 16C masterpiece of the Suleymaniye mosque in Istanbul. Ottoman decorative art, especially ceramic objects and tiles and miniature painting are largely derivative of other traditions, although many examples are noteworthy for the exceptional precision of their execution.
Calligraphy (from Gr. meaning “beautiful writing”) is the art of fine handwriting. The term may refer to letters, words, pages, or even whole documents to which aesthetic principles and skilled penmanship have been applied.
In Islamic culture, calligraphic writing is accomplished by using a broad-edged reed, quill, or nib pen held at a slant.
In a country where Islam is practiced, calligraphy is of great importance since depictions of humans and animals are not allowed. The copying of the Koran is considered a religious act and Islamic calligraphy is much esteemed because of its religious associations. Major styles of script are Kufi, a formal style with an angular character, Sulus, a cursive flowing script written with rounded letters, Divani, generally used for writing the decrees, and Talik. These scripts are also classified in themselves according to the places that they are used or their sizes.
Divani Script written in Arabic meaning “Only He is everlasting” by Ali Alparslan
Painting of pictures on a small scale. The word miniature is derived from minium, the name of a red oxide of lead used for the decoration of sacred texts. The techniques developed in this art of illuminating manuscripts were later applied to the creation of many small portraits, known as miniatures. Miniature painters generally work in a microscopically minute technique, using thin, pointed brushes on such varied surfaces as the backs of playing cards, stretched chicken skin, vellum, metal and ivory.
Miniature painting was highly developed among Ottoman Turks who produced delicate, stylized examples.
(CINI) CERAMIC TILES OF IZNIK
Iznik (Nicaea) was the largest tile production center during the Ottoman period. The Iznik tiles were different to Seljuk tiles in color and quality.
According to the records of 17C traveler Evliya Celebi, there were 340 ateliers of tiles in Iznik when he visited there. When an Ottoman sultan wanted to build a new building, he sent a message to the governor of Iznik. All the work was distributed to the ateliers. Tiles used for interior decorations were 24×24 cm / 9.45×9.45 in and 2-3 cm / 0.7×1.2 in thick. In the beginning of the 16C, motifs on tiles had blue, dark blue and yellow colors on white background. In the second half of the century more motifs were used and color combination becomes more complex. The certain shade of coral which was first seen in the middle of 16C suddenly disappeared in 17C which can only be explained with the death of its master.
EBRU (PAPER MARBLING)
Ebru is a traditional Turkish art. Although the origins are unknown, it is likely that it came to Anatolia from Central Asia. Natural dyes mixed with ox gall are sprinkled with brushes made of horse tails on the surface of water in a deep ebru tray. The oily dyes are designed on the surface of water. After the design is ready, tray-size papers are left on the tray to absorb all the dyes as they are, with their formed shape.
Ebru is an abstract art in which a considerable amount of randomness is involved. The artist’s control is decidedly limited as he cannot determine the precise shape, size or position of each droplet of color. What he does is to try to apply his colors according to the “mood” of the ebru tray as he perceives it. The colors then float and expand depending on the condition of the liquid and the tray, the ambient temperature, the humidity and the amount of dust in the air. The ebru tray has just as much to say as the artist, or more, in the kind of ebru that is going to emerge.