The ceramic tiles from Iznik, dating from late 15th to mid 17th centuries, are significant examples of Ottoman arts. The city of Iznik, situated in contemporary Turkey, was recognized for its ceramic craft during the Ottoman era, leaving behind a tangible representation of this craftsmanship.

These square tiles, each measuring approximately 20 cm each side, create a notable ensemble when aligned. Embellished with elaborate designs, the tiles exhibit a prominent color spectrum dominated by traditional Iznik cobalt-blue and turquoise, supplemented occasionally with sage green, olive, and coral red—an element introduced from mid-16th century onwards. The colors are contrasted against a bright white base, offering a striking visual effect.

Varied motifs are found on these tiles. Numerous feature detailed floral patterns with stylized renditions of carnations, tulips, and hyacinths; their design evoking the serenity of Ottoman green spaces. Other tiles bear geometric and arabesque designs indicative of Islamic influence on Ottoman art, while still others present narrative scenes or ornate calligraphy.

Known for their exceptional preservation and color vibrancy, these ceramics were created using a unique process: the initial design was outlined onto a white slip overlaying the clay piece, then highlighted with a dark blue line before brightly tinted underglazes were applied. A clear over glaze completed the tiles, resulting in a high-gloss finish that has aptly preserved the colors over centuries.

Used as revetments on both interior and exterior architectural walls, these tiles served not only as decorative elements but also as practical damp-prevention. Additionally, they embellished everyday items like stoves and fountains.

Museum of Islamic Art, Cairo
Mosque of Mohammed Ali