NICAEA, town, northwestern Turkey. It lies on the eastern shore of Lake Iznik.
Founded in the 4th century BC by the Macedonian king Antigonus I
Monophthalmus, it was an important center in late Roman and Byzantine
times (see Nicaea, councils of; Nicaea, empire of). The ancient
city's Roman and Byzantine ramparts, 14,520 feet (4,426 m) in
circumference, remain. The town was besieged and conquered in 1331 by
the Ottoman Turks, who renamed it Iznik and built the Green
Mosque (1378-91). Iznik's prosperity, which was interrupted by
the competing growth of nearby Istanbul as an Ottoman center after 1453,
revived in the 16th century with the introduction of faience pottery
making. Iznik subsequently became famous for its magnificent
tiles, but after the workshops were transferred to Istanbul c.
1700, Iznik began to decline. Its economy suffered a further blow
with the construction of a major railway bypassing the town. Today Iznik
is a small market town and administrative center for the surrounding
district. Pop. (1980) 13,231.
Characteristics of IZNIK Tiles
Iznik Tiles are admired worldwide for the following reasons :
Iznik Tiles are made on a very clean white base with hard backs and
under-glaze decorations in a unique technique.
70-80 percent of an Iznik tile is composed of quartz
and quartzite. Its beauty arises from the harmonious composition of
three successive quartz layers and a paste-slip-glaze combination that
is extremely difficult to bring together. The mixture of quartz, clay
and glaze disperses in a very wide thermal spectrum at 900 centigrade.
After painstaking research, the problem of the fluctuating thermal
behavior of the tiles due to their quartz and rock crystal composition
was solved. The result; a tile made primarily out of a semi-precious
Even though it may appear to be against the principle
of "ceramic textural unity", the unique structure of the tiles
cause dilatation in hot, and shrinkage in cold or freezing conditions.
Iznik tiles are extremely durable, and versatile for any decorative or
In Iznik tiles, one can observe colors resembling
those of semi-precious stones such as the dark blue of lapis lazuli, the
blue of turquoise, the redness of coral, and the green of emerald.
Some of the colors observed on the tiles and utensils,
particularly the coral red, are very hard to obtain and apply. To obtain
all of these colors, the cornea white and opaque sheen glazes are
required. The slightly opaque quality of the glaze on the tiles cushions
reflective light, producing a relaxing expression.
The figures on the tiles and utensils reflect
allegorical and symbolic characteristics, namely the flora and fauna of
the region. The geometrical designs can be interpreted cosmologically as
a general description or depiction of the world or the Universe. Iznik
Tiles are never overpowering or overstated, and tend towards a timeless
discretion and moderation, blending beautifully with surrounding
The old masters kept their production techniques very
secret, even from their own families and students. They took production
secrets of their manufacture lay concealed for centuries.
Unlike current ceramic technologies, our production is
fundamentally based on the natural synthesis of its various components.
This intensely difficult ceramic production process is made possible
through the synthesis of human labor, creativity and patience.