Large plate with floral decoration
Museum of Islamic Art at the Pergamon Museum
Around Hegira 957–63 / AD 1550–5
KGM 1898, 266
Quartz fritware pottery with underglaze painting.
Height 6.5 cm diameter 37.7 cm
This large plate with a flat rim is decorated with a variety of colours and black contour lines. Three composite flowers, lilies and hyacinths, grow, almost straight, out of a blossoming plant, on gently swaying stems. The large composite flowers have been creatively interpreted from elements of the blossoms of palms, lotus and marrow, all brought together to form a whole. This has been referred to as ‘botanical art’. This floral-design repertoire is part of the so-called ‘quatre fleurs’ (four flowers) style that is composed of four garden flowers – rose, carnation, tulip and hyacinth – and which, from around AH 945 / AD 1540, represented the main motifs of Turkish ceramics.
Across the gently inward tilting rim is a Chinese-based rock-and-wave motif, composed of white waves rolling towards rocks drawn as spirals. This motif is derived from 15th-century Chinese porcelain painting. The Ottoman Court collected Chinese porcelain and used it as tableware, and the porcelain remains to this day in the safekeeping of the Topkapı Palace in Istanbul.
On the outside are depicted three pairs of tulips and, repeated three times, the three-sphere or chintamani motif, which was a symbol of luck that originated from Buddhism. This motif consisted of three circles, each with a dot at the centre, placed in a pyramid formation, linked together with tiger stripes.
The plate is a typical example of the so-called Ottoman Court-style that was developed in the naqqash-hane (writing-house). It was here that the designs for book decoration, textile patterns, embroidery, metalwork and ceramics were developed. Many potters from Iznik worked directly alongside the Court artists from the Topkapı Palace. Craftsmen from the art workshops of the Court in Istanbul travelled to Iznik in order to exchange ideas with the ceramic master craftsmen there. Ottoman ceramics were greatly valued in many European countries, from the AH 10th / AD 16th century onwards, proof of which can be found in Turkish and Western sources, which described Iznik ceramics as being as beautiful if not better than the imperial porcelain of China.
The potteries in Iznik made numerous flower plates in different styles. This one is from the middle of the 16th century. On a white ground, sprays of composite flowers and hyacinths are symmetrically arranged using a subdued colour scheme of black, celadon-green and shades of blue.
The plate can be dated to around 957–63 / 1550–5, because of the particularity of its painted decoration and because of the existence of similar pieces from the period.
Acquired from Durlacher, London, by the Arts and Crafts Museum, Berlin, in 1898. Transferred to the Museum of Islamic Art as a long-term loan.
The shape and particularity of the painted decoration testify to this plate being a product of the workshops of the Ottoman town of Iznik.
Atasoy, N. and Raby, J., Iznik: The Pottery of Ottoman Turkey, London, 1989, no. 354, pp.90–4.
Hagedorn, A., Auf der Suche nach dem Neuen Stil, Berlin, 1998, pp.30–8, p.72, no. 66.
Kühnel, E., Islamische Kleinkunst, Braunschweig, 1963, pp.158–60, plate 31.
Museum für Islamische Kunst, Catalogue, Berlin, 1979, no. 577.
Museum für Islamische Kunst Berlin, Catalogue,Stuttgart; Zürich, 1980, no. 41.
Annette Hagedorn "Large plate with floral decoration" in Discover Islamic Art, Museum With No Frontiers, 2021. http://islamicart.museumwnf.org/database_item.php?id=object;ISL;de;Mus01;36;en
Prepared by: Annette Hagedorn
Translation by: Maria Vlotides, Brigitte Finkbeiner
Translation copyedited by: Monica Allen
MWNF Working Number: GE 47
Islamic Dynasties / Period
On display in
Discover Islamic Art Exhibition(s)The Ottomans | Table Culture
Virtual Visit Exhibition Trail
DownloadAs PDF (including images) As Word (text only)