The ceramic tiles produced in İznik (historic Nicaea) during the 15 and 16th centuries represent the cultural and artistic zenith of the Ottoman Empire. These tiles still grace the walls of many mosques and palaces. The examples of these tiles are part of the best collections of museums in Turkey and around the world. Due to a number of reasons, the technical knowledge and documentation employed to create these tiles were unfortunately lost to mankind in the 17th century.
After a span of 400 years, and after years of research and countless experiments; the Iznik Training and Education Foundation have been successful in reproducing Iznik tiles of the same high quality as their predecessors with the ancient traditional methods of 16th century.
The Iznik Foundation has managed to attain this major achievement through the unsparing efforts of the 85-member team of the Iznik Ceramic Research Center and the İznik Tiles and Ceramic Corp. along with the efforts enlisted by Istanbul University, Mimar Sinan University and Tübitak; the Turkish Research Institute.
The Foundation consists of three units:
The Iznik Foundation was founded by Prof. Dr. Işıl Akbaygil in 1993 with the principal aim to rediscover, after a period of 3 centuries, the lost Islamic art of making ‘Iznik Ceramics’ and also revive the historical value of the town of İznik.
The rebirth of Iznik Quartz Tiles by the Iznik Foundation
Iznik Foundation Research Initiatives
Iznik ceramic tiles had not been produced for 300 years with no historic documentation that could provide details to the techniques used in the process.
Under Akbaygil’s direction, the Foundation conducted years of research and numerous detailed experiments successfully discovering the secret of quartz tiles to eventually start production of tiles in 1995 using the traditional methods of the 16th century in the workshops of the Foundation in Iznik.
The primary source for research were the extant tiles that give evidence of the extremely difficult production methods of the original Ottoman workshops that when carried out successfully resulted in extra white undercoating, very hard glaze, and under-glaze decorations.
The Iznik Foundation resurrected the original qualities of Iznik Quartz Tiles through the tireless research of the 45-member team of the Foundation’s Ceramic Research Center and the Tiles and Ceramic Corporation along with the efforts of Istanbul University, Mimar Sinan University, TÜBİTAK (Research Institute of Turkey) and Princeton University.
Iznik Foundation, Research and Development Centre and the workshop group has been collaborating with the “The Scientific and Research Council of Turkey, TUBITAK”, the state owned Government Establishment., since 1993. TUBITAK’s appointed laboratories are internationally accredited, issuing ISO standard tests and relevant reports.
As per the standards of the ceramic literature, ceramics are divided into two as pressed and un-pressed products. Pressed ceramics referring to the mass production in the factories, un-pressed ceramics referring to the custom manufacturing process.
Iznik Foundation has put all its effort into setting the Unique Standards for Un-pressed Ceramics, to be named, as it has been traditionally, “CHINI” or “IZNIK CHINI” in world ceramic literature. The studies of the Ceramic Research Centre of the Iznik Foundation with the laboratories of TÜBİTAK-MAM, Marmara Research Centre of TUBITAK have accredited results. Upon completion of the on-going studies about setting the unique standards for custom manufactured processing of murals, Iznik Foundation’s effort will continue to set up the minimums of traditionally manufactured products of art in cross cultural production environments. Iznik Foundation has made different TUBİTAK (1507) and TTGV projects.
Iznik Year 1989
1989 was declared “Iznik Year” and a very important exhibition of İznik ware took place in Istanbul under the patronage of TEB (Türk Ekonomi Bankasi). To commemorate this event, the book “İZNİK” was published during the same year. Prof. Dr. Işıl Akbaygil established the Iznik Foundation to rediscover the secret recipes of traditional Iznik tiles and pottery. After years of research and experimenting; production started in 1994. The aim was to revive this traditional handcraft and unearth the secrets of Masters who carried the ancient technique and procedure of this ancient art to the grave with them.
What are the other units of the Iznik Foundation?
“Iznik Tiles & Ceramics Corporation” deals with the commercial side of the business while “Iznik Ateliers” in Iznik, Bursa are the manufacturers of custom- made architectural works besides the traditional Iznik pottery. “Iznik Design Department” prepares concepts and designs most appropriate to the location or pottery they will be used on. “Iznik Research & Development Laboratory” prepares colours and carries on researches to provide the best results for orders from different regions, countries and climates – indoors & outdoors. The colours used in the manufacturing of tiles and pottery are prepared in the R&D department.
In 2000 Iznik Foundation organised and hosted the “Iznik Symposium” with the sponsorship of IS Bank. Professors, historians, art historians, from different countries participated and delivered lectures to a very interested audience. A book has been published with articles from some of the participants of the Symposium, about the history and art of Iznik. We aim to educate people about the importance of Iznik art and do not let this traditional art disappear once again.