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Collecting Old Continental Pottery
Henri Deux Ware, Etc.
Paris And Its Environs
Glazed Pottery Of France
Stoneware Of Germany
German And Other Guilds
SWEDEN, DENMARK, SWITZERLAND:
Stockholm, Rorstrand, and Marieberg
Delft: The Old Signs Of The Potters
Majolica And Luca Della Robia
Naples, Rimini, Monte Feltro, And Forli
Siena, Monte Lupo, And Pisa
Fabriano, Viterbo, Rome
Venice, Treviso, Bassano, Milan, Etc.
PERSIA AND DAMASCUS:
Persia And Damascus
Persian And Other Tiles
Rhodes, Asiatic Turkey, Etc.
( Originally Published Early 1900's )
Tiles of various forms were used for lining walls, floors, fireplaces, etc., from an early period, and their manufacture occupied a prominent place in the potteries of all the countries where faience and stoneware were made. The Delft tiles often had a picture painted in blue on each separate piece, but frequently panels forming one pictured subject were composed of many tiles. Old French tiles, such as those discovered in the castle of Thouars, in enamelled pottery decorated with a silver tower on a blue ground, and with three fleurs de lis, were ascribed to Rigne, near Thouars. Some of them were marked with the letters LA over the date 1636. Tiles from the Faenza and other Italian boteghe bear the same remarkable decoration as the famous majolica dishes and vases, whilst those of Moorish origin, the azulejos of Spain, have ornament in colours executed in relief, a style of arabesque decoration which demonstrates its Persian origin, modified, it is true, into a more severe geometrical and mechanical order over the whole surface, and inscribed with Cufic or Arabian characters.
The Damascus tiles are also ornamented with inscriptions in relief, such as "The prayer to Mahomet," "The name of the Almighty God," and " In the name of the compassionate and merciful God; I have committed my work to the immortal God." The old examples are traced in blue on a blue ground, with designs reserved in white. The blue ground is not always dark-sometimes the beautiful turquoise is employed; with it, and with a fine green, similar results are obtained as are found on the old wares. Sometimes, too, the ground is white. The manufacture of Persian tiles was not confined to Damascus, as we shall see; but a description of one of the tiles made there may help us to realise how the mosques and tombs of Persia were sometimes covered externally and internally with tilework of brilliant colours in the most intricate patterns, corresponding entirely with the architectural plans of the buildings, resembling nothing in Europe. Some of the tiles are very large : really they are large plaques. Reckoning 30-5 centimetres to a foot, we find large ones 183 and 244 centimetres high-that is, six and eight feet-though usually they measure from twentyfour to thirty-two centimetres, which is about the size of the one now described, and which formed the top and left half of the niche-the mihrab-in the wall of a mosque, marking the direction of Mecca, before which the true believers prayed and close to which the pulpit or mimbar stood. The bracket-shaped tile referred to was not a thin tile but a slab whose thickness was ornamented with floral foliage in white, reserved and heightened with red dots, upon a turquoise-blue ground. The front surface had a rich floral decoration composed of tulips, pinks, and various flowerets in turquoise-blue, red, green, and white, upon a cobalt-blue ground. For the purpose of comparison, following this Damascus piece, other tiles are now described.
Rhodes produced many designs, Persian in origin and feeling, curiously resembling, in some instances, the textile fabrics, the carpets particularly. Two tiles completed a geornetrical design in which at the centre a conventional flower in red, heightened with Green, on a white ground, is surrounded by a cobalt-blue border. From this to the angles is a wide motif with white leaves reserved on a green ground, whilst the angles have conventional red decoration stippled with green on a white ground. The whole is enclosed with a border of arabesques reserved in white, heightened with green and red upon a ground of cobalt blue. Many Persian carpets could answer to the description. As at Damascus, so in Rhodes, tiles were ornamented with inscriptions. This is from a Rhodian specimen: " Allah Yahou, Yahou," i.e. God Almighty, Almighty.
At Brusa, in the north-west of Asia Minor, faience was made of which little is known except that the tiles bore a close likeness to those produced elsewhere. A plaque formed of three tiles bears an Arab inscription, " The rose that flowers," in white letters reserved on a ground of greyish-blue enamel, with branches of tulips and pinks in red and yellow extending to a border on two sides, having geometrical ornamentation stippled with red, and angles treated with conventional foliage. Another plaque formed of two tiles imitates a mihrab in that it represents a niche and serves the same purpose. The centre shows a celadon-green ground round which the mihrab is drawn in black and decorated with blue arabesques on a greyish-blue ground. Above is a border of lambrequins containing blue-and-white flowers with dots of red on a white ground, whilst the plain borders on the two sides have a single glaze in greenish blue. The curious tones of blue are characteristic.
Kutahia is credited with much of the ware known as Anatolian. It is a town in the Brusa vilayet, where most of the small pieces of so-called Persian ware were produced, the cups and saucers, sprinklers, and other vases for perfumes, bowls with covers, and so on, with very bright colouring in the usual patterns ; diapers, scale, lattice, and conventional flowers abounding in a brilliant yellow. If you examine the body of some of these pieces you will see lines crossing each other which were scratched on the soft paste before glazing and firing. And you will also notice that the glaze is comparatively dull; sometimes, too, it is rough to the touch. Still, it is a silicious glaze, which, as we have seen, is distinctive of the wares called Persian, though considerable variations occur which were due to the differences in the ingredients employed, sand with potash or soda modified by oxide of lead, and occasionally by oxide of tin.
Rarely does any potter's mark appear upon the old ware from the Near East. When it does it appears to be copied from the Chinese with the design in blue on white. The Comte de Rochchouart, who lived for many years in Persia, was interested in its old wares, and from him we learn that Natinz and Cachan were two of the old centres where pottery is still made, and that inferior wares, are produced in other places, the worst being from Teheran, though even this has a certain kind of Oriental elegance.