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Copper Art

Turkish Copper Brazier
Turkish Copper Pitcher
Sliced Turkish Copper Pitcher
Turkish Copper Tray
Turkish Copper Soup Pot
Turkish Copper Bucket

Turkish metal artwork dates as early as the 2nd and 3rd century BC in central Asia. In Anatolia, the oldest existing Seljuk piece of metalwork is a silver tray with the inscription “Alp Arslan is the Greatest Sultan” and a silver candle stick dated 1137. Both pieces are at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. Metal artwork reached its pinacle in the Ottoman Empire with the making of turkish-copper-ewer--1weaponry, such as swords, helmets, armour, dagger and knives. For domestic ware, copper or copper/zinc (tombac)was the material of choice although bronze, silver and gold were also used. A mass of copper would be beaten with a hammer (dogme) and turned into a slab, which would then be shaped by an artizan to the desired form. The choicest specimens of Seljuk and Ottoman metalwork can be seen at the Museum of Turkish and Islamic Art. Like the other branches of art, the Ottoman art of metal at the outset took over the Seljuk cultural heritage, with the result that it became a melting pot for a variety of trends as befits an empire that combined many lands and peoples. The widespread implementation in the 14th century of the art of repoussé, familiar to us from Seljuk metalwork, is one of the outstanding features of the period The 15th century, when the Ottomans embarked on the path towards becoming a world power, and the conquest of Istanbul in 1453 especially, constituted a turning point in the art of metal as in many other fields. With the conquest especially of the Balkan lands, which were rich in gold and silver, the Ottomans acquired metalworking artists who possessed not only the raw material resources but also a long-standing tradition. Mamluk influence is observed in the oil lamps in the shape of hexagonal pyramids in a group of works typical of the period. The countless examples of such lamps, decorated with openwork, repoussé and intaglio and adorned with rumî and hatayî motifs, that have survived to our day show that they were produced abundantly in the second half of the 15th century. Candlesticks also occupy an important place among the metal work of this period. Among the Ottoman metal work that has survived to our day, a plethora of objects dating to the period of Sultan Bayezid II stand out. Although Bayezid II’s passion for valuable objects has been viewed by historians as prodigal, its impact on art was positive, and it is a fact that the creation of new works was a compelling force in the encouragement and patronage of artists. The Ehli Hiref or craftsmen’s organization, which served as a school for every branch of Ottoman art, was established in this period. Subsumed under it were the coppersmiths (‘kazganciyan’), who made metal objects; the goldsmiths (‘zergeran’), who produced jewelry of all kinds including gold; the gold inlayers (‘kûftgeran’ or ‘zernisan’), who produced gold inlay and other decorations, and the ‘hakkâk’ who cut and set precious stones. All these divisions of the Ehli Hiref had a role to play due to the great diversity of decorative techniques employed in the art of metalwork. As a result of the cooperation and work of the masters who brought diverse traditions and concepts of art to Istanbul from various parts of the Empire following the conquest of Tabriz and Egypt in particular, the Ottoman art of metal was purged of manifest influences in the mid-16th century and found its own unique style.

A number of decorative techniques were generally employed on the decorative objects made in this century including intaglio, repoussé, filigree, chasing, niello, embossing and metal plating. But the group that best represents the overall character of the period is without doubt that of the metal objects known as ‘murassa’ (studded with precious stones). It became fashionable in this period to embed precious stones in metal surfaces such as swords, daggers, book covers, slabs of emerald, natural crystal and even porcelain by using the technique of stone inlay. In contrast turkish-copper-decanter--1with the ostentatious style of the 16th century, there are also plain examples which stand out simply for their harmonious proportions and fine workmanship. Flowers also begin to appear alongside the classical 16th century styles in the decorative motifs of the 17th century. Emerging under Western influence, these are composed of floral motifs worked in Turkish style. Besides the traditional motifs such as the plaited frieze, tree of life, Seal of Solomon and fish observed on copper objects of the period decorated mostly using the intaglio technique, naturalistic designs such as tulips and pomegranate blossoms, familiar from silver objects of the period, are also encountered. The Ottoman art of metalwork, which is observed to have remained bound, in part at least, to the traditional forms at the beginning of the 18th century, continued the naturalistic style of the 17th century as well. Besides the western-oriented quest for form and motif, there was also a tendency to maintain the classical tradition. Late 18th century and 19th century metalwork in contrast appears to reflect entirely western taste. The classical Ottoman shapes and motifs of the 16th and 17th centuries eventually gave way to Baroque and Rococo forms and designs imported from Europe. The Ottoman art of metal, which was attempting to emulate Western products in this period, is observed to have been particularly successful in the technique of intaglio, of which it created fine examples in pieces such as the coffee sets, ewers, trays, jugs and mirrors that were so popular during the period. When examining the ‘Turkish Rococo’ products of the Ottoman art of metal, we see a transformation in taste. Pearls and cut diamonds supplant colored stones such as the ruby, emerald and garnet of the classical period in jewelry and inlaid work, and enamelling also becomes popular. Similarly, embossing with a mould replaces the more demanding technique of repoussé using a graver, which requires skill. As for the floral compositions, which are still used, these now take the form of sumptuous baskets with enormous bows and garlands made in keeping with contemporary fashions. The changing political and economic fortunes of the 19th century Ottoman world naturally affected Ottoman art as well. The gradual weakening of the Ehli Hiref organization in the palace and its complete disappearance in the 19th century spelled the end of the brilliant evolution of Ottoman art. As the state, with increasing frequency, sent the gold, silver and even copper objects in the Treasury to the Mint to be melted down, the extant specimens of the Ottoman art of metal, which had been based on the recycling of materials for re-use, began more and more to belie the richness cited in the sources. The objects that were able to be preserved in the Palace Treasury and other extant specimens, most of which survive only because they were donated to tombs and mosques.

You can see related products at: Turkish Copper & Bras

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Turkish Jewelry

handmade-artifact-bracelet-1The court records dating from 1526 indicate that there were 90 jewelry artizans in the service of the Sultan. The art of Ottoman jewelry making reached its peak in the 16th century, with gold and precious stones applied not only to wearable jewelry but also to articles of everyday objects such as bookcovers, utencils, weapons etc. using a variety of materials such as leather, ivory, glass, bone, mother-of-pearl, horn, wood and metals such as zinc. Ottoman jewelry had to be ornate and extremely colourful. Jewellers used a variety of metals in order to fashion a piece of jewelry, which is the main difference from European jewelry where the same metal is repeated. Another feature of Ottoman jewelry is that instead of strict symmetry, the nature of the stone and metal are given prominence. For instance, the natural characteristics of a ruby and emerald reflect the Ottoman feature of jewelry. Jewelry was produced in the palace or in workshops elsewhere. Ottoman jewelry was designed using natural motifs which reflected the prevailing tastes. As the types of stones and the mines increased during the expansion of the Empire, jewelry production increased also. From the 18th century onwards, Western trends led to an exaggerated increase in the size of jewelry. Aigrettes were used both by the Sultan and notable women of the Harem. It was the symbol of power because of its shape and appearance. It is known that Sultans gave the valuable aigrettes as presents or as awards to certain individuals. Jewelled aigrettes also enhanced the heads of horses during equestrian ceremonies. They attracted attention with their simple floral or drop designs and reflected the brightness of the precious gems on them. In later periods, the aigrettes were huge. In portraits the sultans usually wore one aigrette but sometimes they wore three. Women wore more than one aigrette but sometimes they put one on their forehead and another on the back of their head. Pins were important pieces of jewelry in women’s head ornaments. These ornaments were pinned to crests or put directly on the hair or sometimes they were put on the brooches of dresses. The “Titrek” or “Zenberekli” are typical Ottoman pins which dangle with each move of the body. Motifs from nature such as the tulip, rose, violet, floral bouquet, bird, butterfly and bee are mostly used in this type of jewelry. Jewelry with flower motifs was used on the hair. Earrings have been widely used for centuries. They have many shapes from small pearl drops to long dangling ones. They have an important place in Turkish jewelry because they emphasized the beauty of the hairstyle and dress of Ottoman women. Earrings are classified according to how they dangle: the double dangling ones “pay-i Çift” consist of three drops called the “Üç ayakli”, (three feet). The simple gold bangles are not only considered to be jewelry but are bought as an investment to be converted into cash by their owners whenever needed. The women of the Ottoman Palace bought these bracelets from time to time. There are many other styles of bracelets which women favoured such as the twisted type. Signet rings encrusted with precious gems like rubies, emeralds and semi-precious germs like carnelian, amythest and jade were favoured by Ottoman women. They wore them on one or more fingers. Solitares and rose shaped diamond rings and ‘divanhane çivisi’ which has one more diamond layer around the rose shaped ring are Ottoman ring styles. The “Dinahane çivisi” motif is formed by continual rows of diamonds around one large diamond at the top. This design was used in bracelets and necklaces. It was used in silver and gold rings, too. They are depicted in the works of the late 18th and early 19th century famous painters Konstantin Kapidagli and Antoine de Favray. Chokers and long necklaces were used by Ottoman ladies. Gold coins were strung on long gold or silver chains or on a string of pearls. Such necklaces were worn by rich women. The 18th century British Ambassador in Istanbul wrote that Hafize Sultan, the wife of Sultan Mustafa II, wore a string of pearls down to her knees with a diamond as big as a turkey egg and two strings of emeralds. . Jewelled golden, silver, crystal, mother-of-pearl or ivory belts were the essential accessories of the Ottoman woman. Belt buckles with floral or geometric motifs decorated with diamonds, rubies, turquoise, and emeralds were sometimes worn at the waist and other times over the hips.

You can see related products at: Ethnic Jewellery

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