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Gold and silver were used in ornamentations applied with the inlaying technique on various objects and tools and especially jewellery.

Greatly developed in the Anatolian Seljuks Period, the art of metalworking left a rich heritage to the Ottomans. As one of the most important cultural and artistic centre of the period, Istanbul also became the centre of silver workmanship in the 16th and 17th Centuries and maintained its significant place until the end of 19th Century. 

For the historical development of silver workmanship, see Anatolian Art of Metalworking, Anatolian Jewellery Heritage

In the Ottoman period, although inlaying and niello work (applied to all types of silver objects and jewellery) gradually lost their importance, objects made directly of silver demonstrated a great development and were widely produced. 

Telkari (wirework) is a production and ornamentation technique extensively applied in Anatolia and Istanbul to produce telkari belts and Turkish bath clogs (nalin) with wood-carved, durable surfaces covered with telkari silver and precious stones are among the finest examples of Ottoman silver workmanship. Some clogs were ornamented with embossed silver plates like the belts.

Most of the works from the late 16th and early 17th Century are mostly silver with forms similar to stoneware.

The unity in style secured in the Palace’s workshops (nakkaşhane) and dominating the Ottoman arts as a whole are also observed in the silver works following the 15th Century (1).

In the 17th Century, rich ornaments are seen especially on silver objects. In these years, the ornamentation approach of the early period persists and rumi-palmetto compositions in a central organization and rosettes are ornamented with hatayi flowers and wicker leaves around curved branches (2).

Beautiful examples of this rich ornamentation can be found today at Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts with a censer resembling a şadirvan (water tank with a fountain) and a birdcage, where golden bronze is applied on silver, and a Silver Lectern (1618) of the tomb of Sultan I. Ahmet. The Silver Bakirdan (1698) displayed at the same museum is one of the latest examples of the period. 

Classical Ottoman forms and patterns were substituted by Baroque and Rococo forms under the European influence after the end of the 18th Century. In the embossing technique, the Ottoman coat of arms, architectural compositions, cast handles in the form of flowers, birds and animals were widely applied in the pots of this period.

After the early period, silver objects were ornamented with scraping, knocking, embossing, telkari, openwork; gilding and niello work and several techniques were used together in general. 

The silver objects and jewellery produced today present both traditional attributes and contemporary motifs.

Silver workmanship of today is mostly performed at foundries or workshops with furnaces and cast moulds at foundries and such tools as furnaces, basins, bench with drawers, blow-pipes, steel pens, files and pliers at workshops.

In the casting technique, forms are created by melting silver in pots and casting the material into the cast cavity prepared at various degrees (casting frame with male and female input).

In addition to casting applications, other techniques are also utilized in some workshops, namely ‘inlaying’ providing an embossed appearance, ‘carving’ applied without removing any fragments from the metal and ‘scraping’ applied via removing fragments from the metal. 

Inlaying is generally applied to such materials as wood, leather, copper, brass and bronze. The desired figure is carved on the surface of the material and silver is filled into the resulting dents via inlaying. 

Another ornamentation technique is ‘scraping’ applied via carving. In the scraping technique, silver fragments (chips) are removed from the lines of the pattern carved on the material via pens, thereby creating depressed channels on the base. 

Applied with the same procedures, is applied by ablating larger surfaces by perforating the base. 

Another inlaying technique, carving without defragmentation, is applied by creating the pattern via carving the pot surface with hammer strikes, using steel pens, without removing any fragments. Erzurum is famous for this technique; however, its application is gradually fading. 

Niello work
Niello work is an ornamentation technique applied with black niello slurry onto silver. The niello slurry is made up of lead, silver, copper and sulphur. 

Niello work is a form of engraving (kalemkârlık). The pattern is drawn on the desired surface via steel pens and the channels created by the borders of the pattern are filled with the mixture called niello by planting or spreading. Then, the ornamented object is exposed to fire, thus enabling the molten mixture to settle into dents. Once cooled, the object is made ready by file-levelling and polishing. 

Walking sticks, daggers, whips, tobacco boxes, snuffboxes, mouthpieces, Van, Caucasian and Turkmen nomadic (yörük) belts and various jewellery pieces, buttons, pots, trays and tea sets are the examples of objects ornamented with this technique.


For such different techniques specific to areas, see local techniques..


      H.Örçün Barışta ‘T.C Dönemi Halk Plastik Sanatları’ Kültür ve Turizm Bakanlığı 2005
      H.Örçün Barışta, Doğu Karadeniz Bölgesi El Sanatları, I. UluslararasıTürk Halk Edebiyatı ve Folklor Kongresi, SÜ, 1988
      M.R.Sümerkan, Trabzon Yöresi El Sanatları, T.C.Trabzon Valiliği İl Kültür Md. Yayınları, Trabzon 1998
      C.Suner, Ankara Yöresi Geleneksel Gümüş Kadın Takılarının Geçmişteki ve Bugünkü Durumu, 4.El Sanatları Sempozyum Bildirileri, DEÜ GSF Yayını, İzmir 1985
      Y.Develioğlu, Trabzon’da Gümüş Kazaz Örücülüğü, Motif 2002
     Osep Tokat, ‘Ermeni Gümüş Ustaları / Armenian Master Silversmiths’, Aras Yayıncılık, 2010

(1) For more information on the nakkaşhane and muralists,  see     
       Gürçağlar, Nakkaşhane ve Nakkaş Kavramı, Mozaik 8, İstanbul 1996
(2) For more information on patterns and motifs, see

       A.Akar-C.Keskiner, Türk Süsleme Sanatlarında Desen ve Motifler, Güzel Sanatlat Matbaası,İstanbul 1978
      C.Keskiner, Turkish Motifs, İstanbul1991
      İ.Birol-Ç. Derman, Türk Tezyini sanatlarında Motifler, İstanbul 1995
      G. Mesara, Tezyini Noktalar,Antika, S.33 İstanbul
      H. Aksu, Türk Tezhip Sanatının Süsleme Unsurları, Osmanlı 11, Yeni Türkiye Yayınları, Ankara 1999
      U.Derman, Türk Sanatında Murakkalar, İlgi, S.32, İstanbul 1981
      Y.Özcan, Türk Kitap Sanatında Şemse Motifi, Kültür Bakanlığı 1124,Ankara 1990
      Y.Demiriz, İslam Sanatında Geometrik Süsleme, İstanbul 2000
      Y. Demiriz, Osmanlı Kitap Sanatında Naturalist Çiçekler, İstanbul 1986
      C.Keskiner, Türk Süsleme Sanatlarında Stilize Çiçekler,Hatai, Ankara 2000
      Ş.aksoy, Kitap Süslemelerinde Türk Barok Rokoko Uslubu, Sanat 6, 1977
      B.Mahir, Osmanlı Sanatında Saz Uslubundan anlaşılan, Topkapı Sarayı Yıllığı, S.2 İstanbul 1987
      B.Mahir, Kanuni Döneminde Yaratılmış Yaygın Bezeme Uslubu; Saz Yolu, Türkiyemiz 54, 1998
      M.Esiner Özen, Tezhipte Tığ, Antika.S.10,İstanbul 1986
      S.Mülayım, Rumi Motif, Thema Laorusse, C.6, İstanbul 1983
      S.Mülayım, Rumi Motifin Zoomorfik Kökeni, Uluslar arası Osmanlı Öncesi Türk Kültürü Kongresi Bildirileri, Ankara 1989

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