The Art Of Glasswork

Glass has had a place in human life for 5000 years. In Anatolia, which is the cradle of many civilizations, the art of glassworking practised during all periods to modern day.

The Turks contributed to the development of the glass industry in Anatolia. They produced beautiful artifacts during the Artukid and Seljuk periods.

Coloured window glass and an inscribed glass plate found among the ruins of Kubadabad Palace, built by Seljuk Sultan Alaaddin Keykubat (1219-1237) by the western shore of Lake Beysehir in Konya, are outstanding examples of this period.

For the Ottoman Period, the 16th century is the most illustrious age of the Turkish art of glassworking. The art of glassworking developed also in Europe during this time. The glass produced at Murano near Venice was especially admired and, inspired by these examples, Turkish artists produced numerous artifacts ; in Europe, glass known as Turkish Ware was produced for the Ottoman market according to the Turkish taste. There were Artisans’ guilds comprising glasswork artisans especially in İstanbul in the 17th century and there were glassworks in İstanbul  between Eğrikaya and Tekfur Palace in the 17th and 18th centuries.

We see glassworks producing very original glass objects with local characteristics in İstanbul  in the 19th century. Mehmet Dede, a Mevlevi Dervish, founded the first of these near Beykoz on the Anatolian side of the İstanbul Strait. The objects produced here included cups, decanters, vases, jam bottles and rose water flasks, in addition to the objects made of milk-white paste or opaque blue paste decorated with gilt designs. These are called Beykoz Ware after their first place of production.

Some characteristics distinguish Beykoz Ware from European Ware. There is a red reflection when Beykoz Ware is subjected to light , thought to originate from the characteristics of the sand. The other characteristics are the traces of the cutting centre or cavity, and the different methods of attaching handles and feet.

Crystal glass and opal glass objects were produced in Beykoz. It is said that Beykoz Ware made with a colourless translucent glass or colourless crystal is older than that made with coloured opal glass. The ornamentation consists of gilt floral motifs, roses and especially parsley. A type of Beykoz Ware is called ‘with parsley’. Ottoman Sultan Abdulmecid built a glass factory in the Beykoz district of İstanbul  that produced glass artifacts called Beykoz or İstanbul  Ware. The veined glassware produced here, such a cups, decanters, rose water flasks, vases and bottles, is known as çeşm-i bülbül.