Tile is a coloured, glazed material, usually decorated, used for covering surfaces such as walls; ceramic is glazed terracotta from which are made open and closed vessels, for daily use such as bowls, dishes, cups and jugs.
The art of tile making, which developed in connection with architecture, entered Anatolia with the Seljuks. The main colour of glazed tiles used in Seljuk minarets and tombs is turquoise. After the first half of the 13th century, aubergine purple and cobalt blue are also seen. In the Seljuk period, usually flat plaque tiles were used on the walls and relief tiles were used for inscriptions. Curved surfaces such as vaults and domes were also covered with tile mosaics. The main colours of tile mosaics are turquoise, dark blue, purple and white.
The main tile producing centre from the mid 14th century to the end of the 17th century was İznik. From the mid 14th century to the mid 15th century, “Red Paste” tiles were produced in İznik and its environment.
Red paste tiles, known as Milesian Ware because they were until recently thought to have been produced in Miletus, characterize the second period of İznik tile making, from the second half of the 14th century to the beginning of the 15th century.
In the mid 15th century, porcelain-like tiles with a hard white paste, called blue-and-white and Haliç (Golden Horn) Ware, were produced. These are decorated with rumi and hatayi motifs, stylized clouds and various animal figures.
In the mid 16th century, examples of “Damascus Ware”, which form the fourth period of İznik tile making appear. This group has dull and light colours instead of bright colours and a bluish background with slight nuances is seen instead of a white background.
In the second half of the 16th century, building activities increased in the Ottoman Empire and flat plaque tiles were also used prolifically. The main objects of the period for everyday use were bowls and dishes, narrow long-necked jugs, handled and open jugs, and cylindrical and handled goblets.
From the end of the 17th century, there was a decrease in the activities of the İznik ateliers and tile art gradually disappeared. After this, Kütahya met the Ottoman demand for tile. The tiles produced in Kütahya in the mid 14th century have slight technical differences fro the İznik tiles.
As opposed to the high quality İznik tiles produced for the Capital and for the Palace, Kütahya tile was produced to meet the requirements of the public and continued the Anatolian tile tradition.
The first examples of Kütahya tiles are Milesian Ware, produced in the 14th and 15th centuries.
At the end of the 15th century, influenced by Chinese porcelain, blue-and-white tiles with white paste, colourless glaze and mostly uncoated were produced in Kütahya as well as in İznik.
Polychrome Rhodian Ware, which characterized Ottoman tile art in the second half of the 16th century, was also produced in Kütahya.
In the 18th century, in accordance with public taste, the Kütahya tile industry, which had developed a free style, using a white paste, produced pendants and medallions decorated with blue, red, yellow, purple, green, lilac and deep blue small flowers made using the underglazing technique. In this period, plaque tiles with scenes and inscriptions from the Bible were produced in Kütahya for churches, along with various religious objects such as votive eggs, censers, oil lamps and incense burners.