A-Z of Ceramics - I is for Iznik
The small rural town of Iznik nestles picturesquely on a lakeside in Western Anatolia. Here in the early 16th century an 'Imperial ware' was made for the Istanbul court of the Ottoman Sultan - the richest, most powerful monarch in Europe. European collectors in the mid 19th century thought that such fine pottery could only have been made in Persia (or Iran, as it is today). They saw the Persians as the only truly 'artistic' race of the Islamic world, and the 'artless' Arabs and Turks as barbarian nomads.
As more information became available, it was suggested that these wares were made in Damascus or the island of Rhodes, where much later Iznik ware was found. Convoluted stories explained the presence of Persian potters in these distant lands, and it was argued that 'Rhodian' wares were made by shipwrecked Persian sailors. Only in the 1920s did scholars accept that Iznik ware was Ottoman, giving due recognition at last to the Turkish potters for some of the world's most beautiful and striking designs.