Dish Depicting Two Birds among Flowering Plants

Object Name: Dish

Date: ca. 1575–90

Geography: Made in Turkey, Iznik

Culture: Islamic

Medium: Stonepaste; polychrome painted under transparent glaze

Dimensions: H. 2 3/8 in.
Diam. of rim: 11 3/16 in. (28.4 cm)

Classification: Ceramics

Credit Line: Gift of James J. Rorimer in appreciation of Maurice Dimand's curatorship, 1933–1959, 1959

Accession Number: 59.69.1


This type of polychrome underglaze-painted pottery, often referred to as the "Rhodian type" was produced in Iznik (the Byzantine city of Nicea). This small town in northwestern Turkey was the chief center for the production of ceramic vessels and tiles in the Ottoman empire. Ceramics of the Rhodian type constitute the third and final phase of Iznik ceramics, lasting from ca. 1570 to 1700. They are characterized by the use of a thickly applied "sealing-wax" red glaze, which enriches the palette and stands out in relief, providing the work with rich texture.
This plate features two birds resting on gently swaying plants bearing carnations, tulips, and hyacinths. The motif of the flowering plants is a decorative element that is pervasive in Iznik pottery of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, but the birds are unusual; depictions of birds and animals are rare in Iznik ceramics of this period. A highly conventionalized wave-and-rock pattern circumscribes the broad foliate rim of the plate. Such designs, which were inspired by fifteenth-century Chinese Ming ceramics, enjoyed much popularity in this phase of Iznik production.