Tile is a one face glazed coating substance which is decorated with coloured patterns and decals. Underglaze technique is used while making our tiles. It is beleived that tile art has been started in the Middle East and from there moved to Anatolia and to Europe. Asur, Iran, Middle East Turks and Egyptians have used tiles-which is a branch of Fine Arts now - to decorate buildings and inscriptions. At the ages of Selcuklu and Ottoman Empire, in some places in Anatolia tile production have been made. So many tile samples from the ages of Selcuklu Empire glazed in firuze (turquoise), gren, cobalt blue, Brown and transparent colors can be seen.

It is very amazing improvement of the technique -in the 16th century- to apply these seven colors under glaze : turquoise, blue, a kind of dark green, red, light cobalt, white and sometimes black.

History of the Tile

Human being began using tiles BC3000 where they live and what they use.

Muslim people began using tiles by AC900.

After the Malazgirt victoryin 1071 Anatolia became the center of Tile.

The history of tiles in Anatolia goes back to Uygur arts, 8th century. In Idikut and Karahocu diggings, the floor tiles of temples have been seen blue and grey glazed bricks. In the Gazne diggings for the 11th century, some tile pieces have been seen and these were similar with the Uygur tiles. We know that Turks used glaze on bricks, by the soil made glazed pots which have been used since. In Turkmenistan tile is called "kashi".

In the Turkish architecture the use of tiles according to architecture in tiles decoration model begins with Iran Selcuklu Empires. Kufi writings on the minaret of Damgan Mescid-i Cuma are the first samples of such kind. The use and improvement of tiles in architecture begins with 13th century. After than with the Anatolian Selcuklu Empire it is used widespread, improved by the Otoman Empire times and reached to our day with a great importance in our architecture.

Period of Anatolian Principalities

The use of tiles in the period of principalities is not so much as Selcuklu magnifience. But some samples show the achievements of this art.Especially the Mosque of Esrefoglu Principality (1299) in Beyşehir and the tomb (1301) near it has the most magnificient tile decorations.

The inside door which enables to enter to the mosque and which holds the epitaph is like a victory of the tile arts and mosaic tile covering art. It is seen that plant decal is dominant on the mosaic tiles which cover the ceiling of the tomb. Here, the application of the mosaic tile in pentagon form shows a technical characteristic.

Mosaic tile decoration at the niche of the mosque indicator of Birgi Ulu Mosque (1313) and at the arch owhich holds the dome in front of the niche of the mosque indicator. In the Isa Bey Mosque, which belongs to the same principality, between niche of the mosque indicator and first dome, bricks and star shaped tiles were covered.

Mosaic tile decoration could be seen in Karamanlı Municipality whose art was very similar to Selcuklu. But this time, the application was pushing into plaster decoration. The mosaic tiles between the niche of the mosque indicator and the dome of Hasbey Darulhıffazı (1421) in Konya shows the characteristics of Selcuklu. We will see the influence of Ottoman Tile Arts on İbrahim Bey İmaret (1433) in Karaman, whose niche of the mosque indicator - which is prepared by colored glaze painting - is now being shown in İstanbul Çinili Köşk. The same influence could be seen on the rectangular tiles produced by colored glaze painting technique in II. Yakub Bey Tomb (1429) which is near to Germiyanoğlu Principality İmaret.


It is seen that after Otoman Empire made Bursa as capital city, the Anatolian Selcuklu xulture on tiles did not change. This epoch was the epoch that between Otoman and Selcuklu many techniques were tried.

In the Otoman Empire, tile arts has enriched and step forward because of trials of so many techniques.

The level which Ottoman arts have reached, by the beginning period, could be seen in Bursa Yeşil Mosque tile decorations. "Colored Glaze" used in here has been made by thick digging the contours of the decal on red dough or printing, then firing after painting with colored glaze. With the contribution of white, yellow, lilac and gren, colors have been enlarged. As well, far east applications like hatayili compositions and Sakayık contributed to tile arts. Ali bin İlyas Ali has a big contribution on these arts including to the tile arts. He was from Bursa, but in 1402, Timur took him with him to Semerkand and there he learned the new techniques and while he was returning, he took some foreman who are from Tebriz with him back to Bursa and created the products in Bursa. Tile written Muhammed el Mecnun name on all tile covered sultan mahfil of Yeşil Mosque is the proudly sign of the foreman who made this part.

On the niche of the mosque indicatorof Yeşil Tomb the vase of flowers squirting between two candlesticks and the composition of oil lamb show the changes in decoration style. Çelebi Sultan Mehmed's all color glazed tile covered tomb is one of the most magnificient of tiled tombs.

More limited decorative materials, mosaic and color glazed various shape single color panel tiles are used in Bursa Muradiye Mosque and teological school (1425)

The tiles of Edirne Muradiye Mosque shows the development of tiles of first period of Ottoman tile arts.

Turqouise and lilac added to blue-white under transparent glaze of the two tiles of Edirne Triple Minaret Balcony Mosque.(1737-47)

The technique of color glazed painting of 15th century continues in 16th century, especially in İstanbul. Yavuz Sultan Selim Mosque and its tomb(1522) tiles have been produced by color glazed technique in which empty parts were painted with red color and then put into kiln. Şehzade Mehmed Tomb (1548) is one of the best samples of that century.

By the second half of 16th century, all techniques have been left. Only underglaze technique was in use. In this technique, first undercoat is applied to tile panels, then outside borders of the wanted sample are marked and inside the lines are painted with the desired colors.