Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

Iznik Tiles, God whispers . . .

OK, OK, now you are going to see my ditzy side. I remember my mother visiting, and I was telling her what my cat was saying. She gave me one of those long, considering looks, and then said “I hope you don’t talk this way in front of other people. They might think you are a little crazy.”

I guess we all have crazy thoughts, fantasies. I kind of think cats have a very simple kind of telepathy; they can, I think, pull images out of your head. They are simple creatures, but ones we don’t fully understand. Am I crazy for thinking that?

And that has nothing at all with this blog entry, except to warn you that sometimes I am not entirely rational, I can be fanciful.


Two books in a row I have most recently read referred to Iznik tiles. The first was a Donna Leon book Death in a Strange Country where a woman who lives very frugally, even on the edge of poverty, sits in her run-down Venetian apartment surrounded by masterpieces of world art, including Iznik tiles.


The second book, which I just finished, is The Janissary Tree by Jason Godwin, in which his detective Yashim Togalu, a eunuch in the early post-Janissary Ottoman Empire, notes the Iznik tiles in the great receiving room of the Sultan.


To me, when two books in a row refer to the same tiles I have never heard of, it is like a little whisper from God saying “look this up.” It may be that I don’t even need this information, maybe I am just supposed to pass it along to YOU! I don’t know.

I DO know I am glad I looked it up. I love blue and white. I love intricate, curved design. And oh WOW, I love Iznik tiles and pottery.

“In the late 16th century the tiles of Iznik incorporated new designs and new colors and Iznik immerged as the preeminent city for tile production in the Ottoman empire. A major part of the transformation had to do with the introduction of Persian designs rendered in a distinctly Ottoman style.” From Guide to Iznik Tile and Plates.


In case you want to know more, this is an excerpt from Nurhan Atasoy’s Article on Iznik Tiles:

The finest Iznik pottery was produced during the reign of Suleyman the Magnificent and up to the end of the 17th century.The tiles and other pieces were exuberantly decorated with hyacinths, tulips, carnations, roses, and stylised floral scrollwork known as hatayi, Chinese clouds, imbrication, cintemani (a design consisting of three spots and pairs of flickering stripes), and geometric patterns.

The Turkish Ministry of Culture proclaimed 1989 as Iznik Year, and numerous events and activities relating to Iznik pottery were held. Iznik has a special place in the history of Turkish art, and thanks to the efforts of Turkish Airlines and Turk Ekonomi Bankasi Iznik Year became Iznik Years. Researchers are continually discovering more about e beautiful type of ceramics, whose designs are enjoying a new wave of popularity.

And here is a source from which you can order your own Iznik tiles:

There is no socially redeeming value to this post. Only that I learned something, and discovered something which is, to me, breathtakingly beautiful. One source says Iznik tiles were made of quartz, which gave them a great elasticity when exposed to varying degrees of heat and cold, which I find fascinating in that today the hottest new countertops are done in quartz. I think Adventure Man and I need to visit Iznik, the ancient Nicea, and take a look, don’t you think? I would love to see more of these tiles, in person, maybe somewhere I could touch them. 🙂

October 4, 2007 - Posted by | Arts & Handicrafts, Books, Cross Cultural, Detective/Mystery, ExPat Life, Fiction


  1. Thanks for the post and info. When I first came to KW in 1995, I searched high and low for Islamic tiles of all designs and origins, thinking that they would be prolific here and wanting to take some back to the US, alas, I was mistaken. I love those tiles too. If we ever build a house, I would love to incorporate them- beautiful.

    Comment by carly | October 4, 2007 | Reply

  2. These tiles look very Persian to me, Carly, and I am betting there are probably some equally beautiful Iranian tiles. Would love to get the opportunity to see.

    Comment by intlxpatr | October 4, 2007 | Reply

  3. […] wrote an interesting post today on Iznik Tiles, God whispers . . .Here’s a quick […]

    Pingback by Pamedible.Com » Iznik Tiles, God whispers . . . | October 4, 2007 | Reply

  4. […] I got to re-visit my Iznic pieces, most of these centuries old: […]

    Pingback by More Doha Museum of Islamic Arts Photos « Here There and Everywhere | August 2, 2009 | Reply

  5. It’s not just you! I watched a TV show last night on Islamic Art and saw these tiles for the first time ever. I was mesmerized and infatuated immediatly! They are just so breathtaking. In all my years of making ceramics (including Malibu tiles) I had never heard of the term “Iznik”, but I am glad that I am not the only person so taken with them. Thanks for your research it’s all so interesting.

    Comment by Linda | February 22, 2011 | Reply

  6. I am still infatuated, Linda. The Doha Museum of Islamic Art has some tiles that just knock my socks off. I can see the early Persian influences, and I can also see how the early tiles influenced European tiles and textiles. . . oh , it just goes on and on. They are gorgeous, aren’t they?

    Comment by intlxpatr | February 22, 2011 | Reply

  7. How can this be? One night we sat next to a lovely couple from Dublin, and the woman turned out to be a veterinarian, there to give a lecture on as she said,” bunnies and birds, as the exotic pet-trade has picked up in Istanbul.” I immediately asked her about the profusion of street animals and she cleared it up for us. Apparently Istanbul is a “no-kill” city, with the entire population standing behind this humane law. Whenever possible, the state actually rounds the animals up, inoculates them, cares for them if they’re sick, spays and neuters them, then sets them free, knowing they will be well cared for. We never once saw a mangy dog or alley cat. They all looked perfectly healthy and happy. There are even neighborhood favorites. That is so cool.

    Comment by Ladyjorns | February 23, 2020 | Reply

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