This underglaze fritware tile is painted in colours on a white slip. The decorative scheme consists of a cobalt blue background, on top of which are compositions of saz leaves, a central flower, as well as half of a lozenge shaped cartouche at each end of the tile. The white saz leaves are embellished on top with red flowers and turquoise leaves, while the cartouches are outlined in red and painted in turquoise blue, embellished with īslīmī compositions in white and red.
This tile would have been a part of tile revetment used for decorating bathhouses or palaces in the Ottoman empire. Using tile revetment to decorate buildings became fashionable in the mid-16th century for Ottoman elites. For example, the Ottoman admiral Barbaros Hayreddin Paşa (better known as Barbarossa) commissioned the Çinili Hamam (the Tiled Bathhouse) and employed the famous court architect Sinan (d.1588) to design the bathhouse, and possibily the royal workshop for the tile patterns. The intricate designs of tile patterns were made to emulate manuscript paintings, meant to be savoured from a close distance. Originated from 14th-15th century Iran, the īslīmī pattern used for this tile is one of the oldest decorative schemes for manuscript illuminations.
Our tile is identical to a group of tiles (AD6015.1) in the Musée du Louvre, Paris, as well as a single tile (426-1900) at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London.