The glass making as an art form and a form of craftsmanship, in the Ottoman style has its roots in the Seljuks and the Byzantian empire. This style reached its peak in the 19th century. The historical locality of "Beykoz" was the center of many glass workshops during this century. The first of these workshops was established by Mehmeh Dede during the reign of III.Selim (1789-1807). He learned the glass making art in Venice and used an opal glass technique. Some famous European artists were invited to work in this workshop.
Another important workshop/production facility was founded in Incirkoy by the governor of Bursa (a province) and called "Cesm-i Bulbul". Later, the management of Cesm-i Bulbul was turned over to the 'Government Mint' administrator Tahir Efendi. All glassware produced in Beykoz and Incirkoy facilities are called "Beykoz Style". Since we know that the Ottomans were importing glassware from France and Bohemia at the same time with very specific style requirements, they were all called "ala Turka" or "alla Turchesca". Because of the distinct style of these imported pieces and also the existance of the European artists working in Beykoz and Incirkoy it is hard to say much about the original roots of the "Beykoz Style" name tag. But we know that this style reflects the Ottoman sense of taste and appreciation of this creative field of art.
The Beykoz Style glasses are categorized in four distinct groups:
1. The initial models of Beykoz style glasses were usually colorless and made of crystal. Other than the known forms of glass bowls and ewers, large bottles and cups were common. They were generally decorated with gilded rose and parsley figures. The lid handles of these glasswares resemble the hats of Mevlevi dervishes.
2. The ones in the second group are similiar in form to the others but with a distinct color combination such as: red, cobalt blue, violet and dark blue. Gilding and enamel combinations are widely used in this style.
3. A large group of Beykoz style glass items were made with opal glass. This style was widely used in Europe since the 16th century and brought to Istanbul by Turkish artists with European experience and some European artists visiting the empire in the 19th century. The name "opal glass' comes from its resemblence of an opal color. During the later stages, opal glasses were manufactured with blue, violet, purple, green and yellow colors.
The early and simple technique to make opal glass was to add stannic oxide and ashes of bones to the normal glass mixture. This method was improved later on. The opal glass is a semi transparent material, with light scattering and reflecting properties.
4. In the last category we see "Cesm-i Bulbul" glasses. These are the most famous of all the 4 different groups of glasses. The name means 'the eye of the Nightingale' and it is a Persian word. The name either omes from the name of a locality where the factory was set up in the 19th century or from its resemblence to the patterns of the Nightingale's eyes. The most distinctive feature of Cesm-i Bulbul glass is the way it is made and how it looks. The glass bars are covered by a layer of molten transparent glass. The patterns and colors created by this method are very elegant and distinct.
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