The art of woodworking has an important place in Turkish art beginning from the Seljuk Period. Apart from certain details, the Seljuk woodworking technique and tradition continued into the Period of the Principalities.
Woodwork was used for window and door wings, balustrades, lattice-work, mosque minarets, pulpits, sarcophagi and reading desks, as well as for the capitals, consoles and beams of wood-columned mosques. Walnut, apple, pear, cypress, ebony and rose are the types of wood used in particular.
Wood decoration techniques include dovetail (real and artificial dovetail), carving (smooth-surfaced, round-surfaced, grooved, double thickness, oblique cutting technique), engraving, inlay, ornamenting with jewels, lattice (made with lathes), latticework (open-work), maşrabiye type lattice technique, attached open-work and painting on wood.
The dovetail technique was used for the side panels of pulpits and on doors; carving was used for door and window wings, reading desks, apses, pulpits and sarcophagi; the oblique cutting technique is seen on the side panels of pulpits; the lattice technique is used for the side balustrades of pulpits; open-work is seen on the crowns of pulpit doors and on reading desks; the maşrabiye type lattice technique was used on pulpits; the technique of painting on wood was applied to capitals, consoles and beams.
Between the 11th and 14th centuries, geometric motifs were used generously on Seljuk artifacts and their influence continued through the Period of the Principalities and into the Ottoman Period.
At the beginning of the 15th century, the new flowered style was used both together with rumi compositions and separately. For technical reasons, geometric motifs were preferred for objects with mother-of-pearl and ivory inlay.
In addition to geometric ornamentation, four-leaved clovers and rumi motifs are also seen on carving and mother-of-pearl items of classical 15th and 16th century Ottoman style. On ivory inlay works, lettering was also used besides rumi motifs. Symmetrical carnations, roses and tulips joined with broad stems and hatayi motifs appear in the flowered style.
The çintamani motif, used from the16th century, is seen also on the 17th century mother of pearl inlay work. In this period, the classical rumi motifs are used within a border or frame, without creating palmettes.
Abstract geometric motifs disappeared in the 18th century and the flowered style was used together with geometric elements. Rumi motifs gained volume, although some parts were rendered thin and plasticised.
In the 19th century, in accordance with the characteristics of the period, oyster shell motifs were applied abundantly to fountain mirrors, palace doors, window pediments, carved reading desks and furniture.