Canakkale Ceramics
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Canakkale Ceramics

Canakkale ceramics constitute a relatively recent field of investigation. Certain kinds of partially slipped pottery, generally fired at relatively low temperatures, scantily decorated but coming in bewildering variety of forms and shapes, are still being produced in various regions and centers of Anatolia. It seems, though, that they have had a particularly long past at Canakkale. Indeed, it was as early as he 17th century that Canakkale ceramics caught the attention of foreign travelers, and some pieces intended as gift-ware or souvenirs began to be purchased and to find their way into Western collection from the mid-19th century onwards.
As already indicated, it was as souvenirs rather than as objects of daily use that Canakkale ceramics, typically with monochrome glaze over red earthenware, received currency. It is not so long since Canakkale ceramics became the object of comprehensive research, Prof. Dr. Gönül Öney first drawing the attention of international scholarship to the matter with her book on Türk Devri Canakkale Seramikleri (Canakkale Ceramics Of The Turkish Period).
Iznik ceramics are generally regarded as the pinnacle of the Turkish art of ceramics in the Ottoman era. Material-wise, form-wise and decoration-wise, they are known to have gone through various stages of development. Initially, and apart from those samples exhibiting a decorative use of slipping in the tradition of Seljukid ceramics, these Iznik ceramics, too, were characterized by blue-and-white decorations over a white slip and red earthenware. Displaying free brush strokes over a very wide range of products, and known in an earlier period as "Miletus ware", the production of these ceramics came to have its center of gravity in Iznik, though in the light of recent research the technique involved was actually representative of en entire period in Kütahya, too, as well as other parts of Anatolia. In vacant lots around Canakkale, there have been individual finds pointing to the existence there, too, of this type of ceramics production, but no systematic excavations or research have been conducted to pursue the question any further. In Iznik itself, it was in the 14th and 15th centuries that production of this type of ceramics was concentrated, though on the basis of the latest excavation findings it would seem that for objects of daily use, and alongside other techniques, it went on until the late 17th century. It appears, moreover, that there was a parallel evolution in Kütahya in this regard.
Then these clay-based ceramics came to replaced by harder white, quartz-based frit bodies in Iznik ware from the early 16th century onwards. In decorative terms, too, the cobalt blue-on-white of an earlier phase came to be enrichened by the addition of green and turquoise, with the famous Iznik Red of polychrome decoration achieving prominence around the middle of the 16th century. Mostly produced on the lines of decorative programs laid down in palace workshops, these were the tiles and ceramics that took Iznik to world renown in the 16th and 17th centuries. Then in the wake of the collapse and closure of Iznik's workshops, leadership passed to Kütahya where the introduction of yellow backgrounds fed a new initiative that tested until the middle of the 20th century. Today, too, Kütahya remains the only center of its kind, though production has been resumed in a few Iznik workshops in recent years.
Now in the light of Prof. Dr. Öney's recent research, dating the earliest known examples of Canakkale Ceramics to the late 17th century is significant because it runs parallel to Iznik and Kütahya developments. Thus there is no great risk involved in suggesting, for example, those particularly broad plates with central compositions may have been produced in such large numbers in this period in order to make up for the loss of Iznik production.
This has to do with their technical features: preponderant use of a clay-based red potter's putty (red earthenware), of slipping, and of glazing over painted surface, with green, brown creamy glazes among those most frequently encountered. Often, the ornamentation will have been painted under a colored or transparent glaze, but in other examples painting over the glaze is also common -- especially for multi - coloring and gilding. In other cases, the inside may be white-slipped and transparent-glazed while the outside will be green-glazed. In some very famous late examples, sgrafitto and (for reliefs) "barbutin" or surface application techniques have been utilized along with mottling, splashing or drip-painting and decorative slipping methods. Superficially applied baroque reliefs of an almost unbelievable exuberance are characteristic of the best-known examples of the 19th century Canakkale Ceramics in particular. Included therein are garlands, rosettes, star-and-crescent motifs, the Imperial Ottoman coat-of-arms, and reliefs of animals.
Occupying a special position between traditional pottery and the elite craftsmanship of the Ottoman era, Canakkale ceramics gained popularity in time, and benefiting from Canakkale's geographical location came to be widely disseminated as souvenirs and gift articles. Along with the use of various techniques in production and ornamentation, their forms, too, were of a great diversity: Broad plates cloud have flat or undulating rims; among other "open" forms were deep boels and plates, bowls and deep dishes with or without lids, fruit bowls, leaf-shaped plates and basket-weave vessels; and popular among "closed forms were not only large or small jars (with or without handles), sugar bowls, vases and even braziers, but also and especially containers for liquids (jugs, bottles, ewers, decanters, etc.) that are immediately recognizable by their bulbous bodies, long necks, superficially applied ornamentation, and mouths or spouts frequently treated in extravagant animal relief. Seeming to merge the "bottle" forms of Iznik and Kütahya ceramics with the common water jug (with single or double handles), these containers, too, were basically intended as souvenirs - as were also ornamental animal figurines, pen holders, gas lamps and model ships, adding up to a very wide range of products indeed.
Not only the formal but also the ornamental diversity of Canakkale ceramics has always attracted attention. Broad plates with ship or boat designs are normally dated to an early phase, but in later periods they were not without-the-glaze applications. Plates with lively, centrally composed decorations, on the other hand, are hard to come by in the later periods. In contrast, plates with decorative slipping under a colored glaze appear to have been lovingly produced at all times. Depicted on them are not only ships or boats but also mosques, kiosks or cannon.
As for all those mouths or spouts in animal (horse, cockerel or bird) shape, they seem to reflect the impact of the most ancient metal or ceramic vessels on folk art.
Canakkale ceramics, which in view of their intermediate positions between traditional folk pottery and the high art of Turkish ceramics in the Ottoman era, should be approached not only with an eye to the taste of a certain period, but also bearing in mind its ethnographical qualities as reflective of the diversity of creative energies and excitement displayed by folk art.

Prof. Dr. Ara ALTUN
(Canakkale Ceramics, Istanbul, 1996)

Turkish Period Canakkale Ceramics

The town of Canakkale in western Anatolia, on the southern shore of the Dardanelles, was an important ceramic center between the middle of the 18th century and the beginning of 20th century.
Although Canakkale ceramics are highly original works, they have thus far not received due attention in history of art publications.
It is probable that Canakkale ceramic workshops were already active in the so-called beylik period. In all likelihood, production was stopped when these shops could not compete with the blue-white ceramics of Iznik. As no excavations have been made at Canakkale, we cannot come to a concrete conclusion in this respect.
In our opinion, the name "Canakkale" emanates from the fact that pottery - bowls (canak in Turkish) and jugs-were made there.
Moltke who passed through the region in 1836, refers to a town on the low lands of the Asian coast, opposite the high cliffs of the European shore, marked by a fortress, lying under plane trees and surrounded by orchards and vineyards.
We consider our present study of introductory nature. We hope to acquire additional information on dating and ovens through future excavations. No early works bearing date and name of artist are in existence.
It is therefore impossible to determine the starting date of production during the 18th century. Earliest reference is made to Canakkale ceramics in Pococke's work dated 1743-45. Pococke describes the town as being rather flourishing with some 1200 inhabitants. It is further stated that the townfolk are engaged in trading silk, canvas and pottery.
Cuinet, who visited Canakkale at the end of the 19th century, refers to a population of 11.062 and states that compared to the previous century the importance attached to pottery had declined appreciably in the face of competition from Europe. However, Cuinet maintains that export of pottery was still a significant trade item. The first pieces which have found their way into museums are encountered at the Sevres Museum (1845). The Victoria and Albert Museum of London is in possession of Canakkale ceramics purchased in 1884, 1892, 1893 and 1897. Canakkale produced tasteful wares of high quality from 18th century until the middle of 19th century. However, mass ceramic production for utility purposes became predominant during the second half of 19th century. The result was a multitude of tasteless, mediocre wares of all types and forms. Uni-color, glazed works with an abundance of ornaments in relief and with partial painting over the glaze are characteristics of this period. At the beginning of 20th century, we observe further deterioration of style and quality.
The ceramics introduced in this study have brought great novelty to Anatolian Turkish ceramic art from the standpoint of style, composition, color and design. Even today ceramic production is continued in Canakkale. We hope that the new ceramic shops will help to restore the reputation once enjoyed by Canakkale products.
Canakkale ceramics which are normally made with coarse red, and occasionally beige putty and worked in underglaze technique draw attention especially with their interesting designs. In examples from the second half of 19th century and 20th century, overglaze painting has been partially applied. Underglaze workmanship is the most common technique employed in Anatolia. The ceramic is prime coated with engobe and left in the sun to dry whereafter the
design is drawn and slip painted. Sometimes, painting is applied directly to the putty. After painting, the ceramic is dipped into glaze and placed in the oven. In Canakkale ceramics, transparent glaze is commonly used and the design is clearly noticeable; in brown, brownish violet, orange, reddish orange, yellow and blue-azure. In many Canakkale ceramics where the design is given in violet i- brown, black, white and orange colors, we note that the color of the glaze is greenish cream, brown, dark green, orange and dirty yellow. In these examples, the design emerges with a less sharp contrast. During the second half of 19th century, gold, black, blue, white or red colors were applied after the first baking. Then, the ceramic was placed in the oven once more and exposed to low intensity heat. In most cases, gold paint is not baked. At the end of 19th century and beginning of 20th century, ceramics with marble -like hues in cream, green, brown and violet abound. Ornaments with full reliefs in baroque fashion start in Canakkale during the second half of 19th century.
In the painting of Canakkale ceramic wares, two methods draw our attention. The predominant method is the use of brush strokes to paint the design. This obviously calls for mastery of the brush and skill. The other method is drawing the contours in dark black, violet or brown and coloring the insides.
The Canakkale ceramics particularly from 18th century and the first half of 19th century draw our attention and indicate an advanced artistic concept with their highly stylized and striking compositions.
In Canakkale, mostly dishes, bowls, jugs, pitchers and vases have been made. It is interesting to note that the most skillful and varied designs appear on dishes which are comparatively more numerous. Up to now, no wall tiles have been found in Canakkale.

Gönül ÖNEY
(Turkish Period Canakkale Ceramics, Ankara, 1971)

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