Name of Object:

Tile panel in the shape of a tympanum


Lisbon, Portugal

Holding Museum:

Calouste Gulbenkian Museum

Date of Object:

About Hegira 980 / AD 1573

Museum Inventory Number:

1598 B

Material(s) / Technique(s):

Ceramic made from siliceous clay, painted and glazed.


Height 71 cm, length 142 cm

Period / Dynasty:



Iznik, Turkey.


Panel of glazed tiles decorated in blue, turquoise, green and yellow. The central composition is framed by scrolls of stylised clouds forming a serpentine band which encloses a lotus flower in a trefoil knot. Unfurling in a spiral from the central motif are slender boughs with leaves, flower buds and hatayi-style motifs (garlands of flowers of Chinese inspiration). In Ottoman architecture panels of tiles were used mainly to decorate interior rooms.
It has been claimed that this panel belongs to a set of around twelve almost identical tympana, which decorated a building commissioned to be built by Piyale Pasa, Lord of the Admiralty and protégé of Sultan Selim II. There was some doubt as to which building this might be: the mosque or the palace. The most widely held view is that the panels were removed from the Mosque of Piyale Pasa in Istanbul, probably built by the architect Sinan in AH 980–1 / AD 1573–4, since all the tympana disappeared and only the mihrab (prayer niche) remains.

View Short Description

This tile panel belonged to the Piyale Pasa Mosque in Istanbul. The piece is dominated by plant motifs. The central composition is framed by stylised clouds forming a strip enclosing a lotus flower, from where other plant motifs are developed.

How date and origin were established:

By methods of stylistic analysis and by comparison with pieces from the same period. The stylistic similarities with the tympana from the mosque of Selim II, built by Sinan in Edirne in 975–82 / 1569–75) and with the tomb of the same sovereign in Istanbul (which Sinan finished building in 981–2 / 1574–5) are undeniable. Furthermore, all the tympana which formed this set are dated to AH 980 / AD 1573, which confirms the dating of this panel.

How Object was obtained:


How provenance was established:

By expert examination. The European collections in which the tympana from this set are to be found, such as the Louvre Museum and the Museum of Decorative Arts in Paris, confirm the provenance of these panels to be the Mosque of Piyale Pasa in Istanbul.

Selected bibliography:

Un Jardín Encantado: Arte Islámico en la Colección Calouste Gulbenkian, exhibition catalogue, Madrid, 2001.
Museu Calouste Gulbenkian, Lisbon, 1st edition 2001, 2nd edition revised and updated 2002.
Only the Best: Masterpieces of the Calouste Gulbenkian Museum, Lisbon, exhibition catalogue, New York, 1999.

Citation of this web page:

Maria Queiroz Ribeiro "Tile panel in the shape of a tympanum" in Discover Islamic Art, Museum With No Frontiers, 2021.;ISL;pt;Mus01_A;49;en

Prepared by: Maria Queiroz RibeiroMaria Queiroz Ribeiro

Maria Queiroz Ribeiro é conservadora do departamento de Arte Islâmica do Museu Calouste Gulbenkian desde 1996, sendo responsável pelas secções de cerâmica, vidro e arte do livro. Tem comissariado diversas exposições: The World of Lacquer, Lisboa, 2001; Un Jardin Encantado, Arte Islámico en la Colección Calouste Gulbenkian, Madrid, 2001; Islamic Art in the Calouste Gulbenkian Collection, Abu Dhabi, 2004. Participou em colóquios internacionais no International Congress of Turkish Art, apresentando comunicações como Following the trail of Ottoman tiles in Portugal em Utrecht, 1999 e La céramique islamique dans la Collection Gulbenkian, no Musée de la Céramique de Sèvres, em 2003. É autora de Iznik Pottery of the Calouste Gulbenkian Collection, Lisboa, 1996 e co-autora de Mamluk Glass in the Calouste Gulbenkian Museum, Lisboa, 1999.

Translation by: Gilla Evans
Translation copyedited by: Monica Allen

MWNF Working Number: PT 74


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