Damascus Tile

Object: M167
JIAAW, Minassian Collection

Decorated with a symmetrical design of blue and green hues, object M167 from the Joukowsky Institute’s Minassian Collection is a rich example of Damascus ware. Damascus tiles were derived from the tradition of Iznik ceramics, a school of Turkish pottery that flourished between the 15th and 17th centuries. Inspired by Chinese porcelain wares and the intricate designs of Persian pottery, Iznik wares often depicted floral motifs in colors of deep blues and white. In the mid-16th century, the Ottoman sultan Suleyman the Magnificent sent Iznik potters to repair tiles at the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem. Once their work was completed, the Iznik potters traveled about 135 miles north to Damascus, a city in present-day Syria. The artisans settled in Damascus, continuing to create tiles and vessels rooted in the Iznik tradition. Yet, it was in Damascus that the color palette changed from bright whites and vibrant blues and reds to more muted tones inspired by nature. In object M167, one may notice blues inspired by the sky and sea, hints of sage green reminiscent of vegetation, and earthy brown accents. 

Although Iznik ceramics are considered to be the emblems of the golden age of Islamic tile production, Damascus tiles found throughout the Ottoman Empire and in its capital city of Istanbul were more readily available to Western collectors in the 19th century. It is through this market that Western museums and many collectors were able to acquire Damascus tiles and may be how this particular tile ended up as part of the Minassian’s collection.

-Jinette Jimenez ‘21

Read about the history of the Minassian Collection here.

Read more about Damascus tiles and see other examples:

Tile | The Art Institute of Chicago

Show this image Ottoman dynasty (1299-1923), 16th or 17th century Syria This tile belongs to group of ceramics sometimes referred to as Damascus or Syrian ware that are closely related to Iznik ceramics. These wares were produced in Damascus in the mid-16th century when the Ottoman sultan, Suleyman the Magnificent, sent Iznik potters to repair and restore tilework at the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem.

Tile Panel with Wavy-vine Design | The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Panel of Underglaze-Painted Tiles As demand for the ceramic production of Iznik increased by the end of the sixteenth century, especially in the area of tile decorations for public and private monuments, Iznik itself fell victim to a series of calamities, including catastrophic fires, the debilitating effects of silicosis (from the dust of the ground flint used for the white ceramic body), lead poisoning (lead is the flux used in the clear glaze that covers Iznik ceramics), the malaria endemic to the Iznik lakeshore that affected the ceramic artisans, and, as we have seen (no

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Brooklyn Museum

Arts of the Islamic World Glazed ceramic tiles were one of the most popular forms of architectural decoration in the Middle East. This panel of tiles has religious subject matter: the Arabic inscriptions name Allah, the Prophet Muhammad, and the four caliphs of the Sunni tradition.

The ‘Damascus School’ influence on the Arts and Crafts Movement – Museum of the Order of St John

This blog starts with these nice earrings, which you can buy online. Or you could buy some cushions instead. As mentioned in the last blog, the 16th- early 17thcentury ‘Damascus School’ of pottery is not seen as the Golden Age of Islamic tile production, this accolade belongs to the master potteries based in Iznik.

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