Monday, July 24, 2017


Tepebaşı, Beyoğlu - Istanbul - Turkey

GPS : 41°01'54.4"N 28°58'30.1"E / 41.031788, 28.975019

Pera Museum / Anatolian Weights And Measures photo peramuseum_weights122.jpg



The Anatolian weights and measures collection that Suna and İnan Kıraç began to create in the 1980s has grown rapidly over the years with the purchase of pieces accumulated by some collectors as well as regular purchases from other sources both in Turkey and abroad, and is now one of the most remarkable collections of its type in Turkey.

Today this collection consists of nearly a thousand objects dating from prehistory to the present day used in Anatolia. These comprise the main types of scales and measuring instruments used for measuring weights, length and volume in every field from land measurement to commerce, architecture to jewellery making, and shipping to pharmacy. Illustrating as it does the relations between measuring systems of different periods and regions, enabling us to follow the various changes and continuities, the collection is a very valuable source of historical and scientific knowledge.

A broad selection focusing on the Islamic periods in Anatolia, but also including examples from other periods so as to show the full picture, is displayed in this gallery arranged in chronological order. Endeavour will be made to show pieces that it has not been possible to exhibit on this occasion at future thematic exhibitions from time to time, so throwing light on this exciting aspect of Anatolian cultural history.

Weights And Measures Systems From Egypt And Mesopotamia To Anatolia

Systems of weights and measures first developed in Egypt and Babylonia for the purpose of measuring quantities of agricultural products and land, and standardizing commercial transactions. The Egyptians are known to have first used scales around 3500 BC, and the ancient Greeks and Romans made wide use of instruments such as scales, steel yards, measuring containers and rulers, many examples of which have survived to the present day.

In the prehistoric period weights were often made in the form of animals, particularly sleeping ducks with their heads swivelled along their backs, and detailing worked in relief and engraved. Such weights in various sizes were most often carved from hematite, but also occasionally from white or cream coloured rock crystal. Motifs engraved on the undersides are thought to be marks identifying the owner.

Dating from 2000-1000 BC, such weights have been discovered at the sites of many Anatolian cities, and must have represented multiples of units such as the mana and shekel, used in the countries of the Near East at that period. Bronze balance pans and a cylindrical seal impression dating from 1900 BC demonstrate that scales were used, and that their weights were either of lead or stone. During the Assyrian Trading Colonies period silver ingots or marked rods measured by weight were used as vehicles of exchange.

The use of metal in Anatolia increased significantly towards the end of the Chalcolithic period, reflecting the development of trade relations in the region, and from commercial documents that have been deciphered, we know that units of weight originating in Mesopotamia were used in Anatolia. Although there is no firm evidence about the use of weights and measures in Anatolia prior to the Assyrian Colonies period, finds made of valuable metals with graduated markings are thought to have been used for measuring or for exchange in trade. For example, at Troy small gold bars and in particular graduated rods seem beyond doubt to show the existence of trade based on measurement.

The Hittites, like the other tribes of the Near East, used silver as a medium of exchange, in the form of rings or rods of specific size and weight. As in earlier times, hematite weights continued to be used to measure shekels and manas, units of weight that originated in Babylon.

Anatolian Weights and Measures in the Hellenic Period

The laws of Solon implemented around Athens in the Greek period are also thought to have been used in Anatolia. Solon ruled that the talent of weight (Greek talanton) should be 3 manas heavier than the monetary talent, distributing the difference between the constituent parts of the weight talent. This unit was the stater (873.2 g), equivalent to the old currency unit, the didrachmon. Fractions of this unit were also used.

The main Greek units of weight were the talent and mana, but these were not identical everywhere. For example, in Athens after the introduction of the Solonian standard this was equivalent to 36.39 kg when weighing commodities. As a monetary unit it was equivalent to metal weighing 25.92 kg. One sixtieth of a talent was a mna or mana. The principal liquid measures were the katule (0.27 liters) and the amphora (1.27 liters), while dry measures were the khonix (1.08 liters) and medimnos (51.84 liters).

In the famous History by Herodotus of Halicarnassus we find almost all the measurements of length used in Anatolia during the ancient Greek period:
foot : 0.296 cm (the modern foot is 30.48 cm)
finger : one sixteenth of a foot, 0.0185 meters
cubit : 1.5 feet, 0.444 meters
fathom : 6 feet, 4 cubits, 1.776 meters
plethron : 100 feet
stadium : 600 Greek feet. The Athens stadium was equivalent to 177.6 meters.
palm : one quarter of a foot, 6 palms equalled one cubit
skenes : Egyptian unit equivalent to 60 stadiums, 10.656 km
parasang : Iranian unit equivalent to 30 stadiums, 5.328 km

Roman and Byzantine Steelyards and Scales

In the Roman and Byzantine periods we find the steelyard (statera) being used as well as the scales or balance (libra) that had been the only means of weighing in antiquity. The steelyard consists of a square-section arm fitted with a sliding weight, and a hook for hanging the object to be weighed. Two or three faces of the arm are graduated with notches at equal intervals enabling light, medium and heavy loads to be weighed.

A balance consists of a horizontal beam pivoted onto a vertical support, with pans attached by silk strings of equal length to the two ends of the beam. Scales of this kind were used to measure precious metals, coins, and other light but valuable substances.

Examples in museums and private collections enable us to track the modifications made to steelyards from the Roman and Byzantine periods until modern times (use of the steelyard continuing until about two decades ago). For example while Roman and Byzantine steelyards had three hooks, those used by by the Seljuks and Ottomans had only two. The traditional balance, on the other hand, has not changed at all over the centuries, and remains in use with the same form today.

Seljuk And Beylik Period Weights And Measures

The pre-Ottoman Turkish system of measurement had its origins in Central Asia as a result of trade relations with Iran and China. The 11th century dictionary of Turkish dialects, Divanu Lugati't-Türk, is an important source of information about units of weight and measurement, defining the artık as half a yük (load), the kırklım as a pile, and the sagu as a measure of cereals, for example. Sources dating from the 14th century reveal that the pre-Ottoman Anatolian system of measurements was based on the lodra, an Iranian-Ilkhanid unit of weight, the kantar, okka and batman (menn); and that the main units of grain measurement were the kile and müdd.

The most important source of information about Seljuk period weights and measures are the deeds of pious endowments. From these we learn that the ukiyye, irdeb, müd and batman were the basis of the measuring system of this period that was largely adopted by the Turkish principalities and the Ottoman Empire. The expansion of trade relations between the Menteşe and Aydınoğulları Turkish emirates in western Anatolian and the Byzantines, Venetians and Genoese, led to the introduction of Byzantine and Italian units of measurement, which began to be used in Anatolia in the 14th century. One example was the Italian rotolo, used in western Anatolia

Ottoman Units of Length

The fundamental unit of length in the Ottoman Empire was the arşın. Three types of arşın were used : the mimari arşın (architect's arşın), the çarşı arşın (market arşın) and the endaze. The mimari arşın was 75.8 cm, longer than the other two, and so named because it was used for measuring land and buildings. It was also known as the bina arşını (building arşın). One twenty-fourth of an architect's arşın was called a parmak, one twelfth of a parmak a hat, and one twelfth of a hat a nokta. In other words one architect's arşın equalled 24 parmak, 288 hat and 3456 nokta respectively.

The metric equivalents of these units are as follows :
1 architect's arşın = 75.8 cm
1 parmak = 3.158 cm
1 hat = 0.263 cm
1 nokta = 0.0219 cm

Arşın measuring rods were made of boxwood, ebony, ivory, iron or steel, and graduated in parmak. For excavation purposes, another unit of length called the kadem, half of the architect's arşın and equivalent to 12 parmak, was used. The kulaç (fathom) was used for excavations, boring wells, and measuring water depth. One kulaç was equivalent to 2.5 architect's arşın, and 100 kulaç was equivalent to 2500 architect's arşın, or a mil (mile), while one fersah (league) was equivalent to 3 mil or 7500 architect's arşın. A fersah was approximately the distance covered in an hour by a person walking at ordinary speed. Four fersah was known as a berit or menzil, and two berit as a merhale.

Introduction of the Metric System

The process of introducing the metric system began during the reign of Sultan Abdülaziz with an imperial edict and statute dated 20 Cemaziyelahir H 1286 (1869). Under this statute the meter was accepted as the unit of length, and named the zira-ı a'şari (decimal zira) to encourage public acceptance by use of the accustomed term zira (an alternative term for arşın).

At the same time the are (100 square meters) became the unit of land area; the cubic decimeter, named öşr-i zira küp (tenth of a zira cubed) and the liter units of volume; and the dirhem-i a'şari (decimal dirhem) or gram the unit of weight. Under articles 2 and 7 of the new law a standard zira-i a'şari rule and a standard kilogram weight were to be manufactured from platinum and kept in the Imperial Treasury. The new law was to go into effect for official transactions in March H 1287, but the general public could continue to use both old and new measures together until March H 1290, when use of the old measures would be prohibited.

These initiatives during the reign of Sultan Abdülaziz failed to bring the new metric system into widespread general use, and another statute was passed by Sultan Abdülhamid II in 1881. From 1883 metric weights began to be stamped. However, in 1895 the country reverted to use of the dirhem, and the metric system was not finally and irrevocably instituted until the Measurements Act was promulgated on 26 March 1931 after the establishment of the Turkish Republic.


WEB SITE : Pera Museum

E-Mail :
Phone : +90 212 334 9900
Fax : +90 212 245 9512

These scripts and photographs are registered under © Copyright 2017, respected writers and photographers from the internet. All Rights Reserved.


Tepebaşı, Beyoğlu - Istanbul - Turkey

GPS : 41°01'54.4"N 28°58'30.1"E / 41.031788, 28.975019

Pera Museum / Orientalist Paintings photo pera_paintings106.jpg


Inaugurated on 8 June 2005, Pera Museum is a private museum founded by Suna and İnan Kıraç Foundation with the aim of  offering a broad range of high-quality culture and arts services.

The Museum is located in the historic building of the former Hotel Bristol in Tepebaşı, renovated between 2003 and 2005 by restorer architect Sinan Genim, who preserved the façade of the  building and transformed the interior into a modern and fully equipped museum.

Pera Museum shares its three permanent collections “Orientalist Paintings”, “Anatolian Weights and Measures”, and “Kütahya Tiles and Ceramics,” as well as the values that these collections represent, with the public through exhibitions, publications, audio-visual events, educational activities, and academic works,  striving to transmit these values to future generations.

Having organized joint projects with leading international museums, collections, and foundations including Tate Britain, Victoria and Albert Museum, St. Petersburg Russian State Museum, JP Morgan Chase Collection, New York School of Visual Arts, and the Maeght Foundation, Pera Museum has introduced Turkish audiences to countless internationally acclaimed  artists, among them  Jean Dubuffet, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Rembrandt, Niko Pirosmani, Josef Koudelka, Joan Miró, Akira Kurosawa, Marc Chagall, Pablo Picasso, Fernando Botero, Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera, and Goya.

Since its inauguration, Pera Museum collaborates annually with national and international institutions of art and education to hold exhibitions that support young artists. All  of  the Museum’s exhibitions are  accompanied by books, catalogues, audio-visual events, and  education programs. Standing out with its seasonal programs and events, Pera Film offers visitors and  film buffs a wide range of screenings that extend from classics and independent movies to animated films and documentaries, as well as special shows paralleling the temporary exhibitions’ themes. Pera Museum has evolved to become a leading and distinguished cultural center  in one of the liveliest quarters of İstanbul.


Throughout the ages, the Orient has attracted the interest of the West. European intellectual and artists have been mesmerized since the earliest times by this presumably mysterious and relatively closed world. As a natural consequence, during various periods many artists, either by traveling themselves or by traveling in their imaginations, sought to discover the essence of the Orient, and depicted or expressed in their works either the real Orient or their own visions of it.

The movement known as Orientalism in European art, which appeared in conjunction with the Romanticist movement of the 19th century, focused on the East, primarily in the lands of the Ottoman Empire. Even long before the rise of Orientalism in European art, many European artists, fascinated by their first glimpses of the mysterious East and by the Turquerie fashion which was the result of the new relations with the Ottoman world. For nearly two hundred years, starting from the 18th century, numbers of painters, some of whom became known as the Bosphorus Painters, worked intensively in the lands of the Empire and depicted the Ottoman world its various aspects, consequently engraving those images in mankind's visual memory.

The exhibition Portraits from the Empire sheds light on a special part of this opulent world. Almost sixty paintings selected from the Suna and İnan Kıraç and Sevgi and Erdoğan Gönül collections bring us face to face with the peoples of the Ottoman world, their portraits and portrayals, sometimes very familiar and sometimes remote, even nearly foreign, in their physiognomies. These paintings, most of them created before the eye of the camera replaced the human eye, in the times when observing, studying, interpreting and depicting the world was the priority of painters, present the lost faces of an era long past with amazing reality and vividness.

Sultans and Portraits

The Ottomans played a prominent role in the power balance of Europe from the 15th century, as their territories in the Mediterranean region and Europe expanded, and this led to increasing European interest in Turkey and the Turks, an interest focused above all on the structure of the Ottoman state. In the 18th century in particular, growing political and trade relations brought not only many diplomats, merchants and travelers to the Ottoman capital, but also many artists, most of whom were employed in diplomatic circles. Under their influence Western style portraiture began to gain ground in Ottoman court circles.

There had been a tradition of painting portraits of the Ottoman sultans in the miniature technique since the 16th century, usually in the form of portrait albums depicting all the Ottoman sultans from Sultan Osman, founder of the dynasty, onwards. From the 18th century this portrait series began to be executed using different techniques, such as oil painting, while at the same time local studios specializing in the production of portrait albums were established in Istanbul. From the reign of Selim III many local artists made portraits using western techniques, and Selim's nephew Mahmud II had his own portraits painted in oil, depicting him in the new western style dress that he had introduced, and had these hung in government offices.

Portraying Ottoman Society

European artists who came to Istanbul as members of diplomatic entourages depicted scenes from different parts of the Ottoman capital, distinctive costumes worn by the different classes of people in the empire, and portraits of foreign ambassadors, interpreters, and increasingly of Ottoman dignitaries. Vanmour, for example, in addition to several audience scenes and pictures of Istanbul, painted various state officials in their typical costume, and these were published in Marquis de Ferriol's Recueil de cent estampes representant differentes nations du Levant in 1714. A number of paintings of similar size in various collections and museums are thought to belong to this series of oil paintings by Vanmour.

One of the most notable of the European artists who worked in Istanbul in the 18th century was a knight of Malta Antoine de Favray, who arrived in Istanbul in 1762 and was employed by the French ambassadors Comte de Vergennes and Comte de St. Priest until 1771. His portraits of Vergennes and his wife show the couple not only dressed in Turkish costume but even seated in oriental style.

This tradition of painting, particularly portraiture, introduced by western artists, gradually spread from court and diplomatic circles to broader sectors of society; first to high-ranking state officials and then to leading Ottoman families, whose members increasingly commissioned portraits of themselves. Even more importantly, this tradition of oil painting influence local artists, one of the most renowned being Osman Hamdi Bey, who despite his oriental birth, did many works that place him among the artists of the orientalist movement.

The world of women and the "harem" as seen by western painters

In Orientalist iconography women and pictures of women hold an important place. To a large extent this is related to the fantasy of the 'harem,' which is one of the most important elements shaping both Orientalist literature and Orientalist painting. In Muslim countries the Arabic word 'harem', meaning a sacred place forbidden to enter, refers to the part of palaces and houses belonging to the women of the family. This concept of privacy and the sense of mystery it generated, particularly with respect to the palace, made the harem the most fascinating aspect of eastern life in the eyes of westerners.

Although Orientalist painters based their pictures of the harem mainly on written sources, they sometimes also used non-Muslim models or called on their powers of imagination. The imagined eroticism of life behind those closed doors, as much as the idea of its inaccessibility to the outside world, was what spurred interest in the harem. European men envisaged eastern women as sultanas or concubines living in a timeless world with nothing to do but prepare themselves for their masters.

In contrast, accounts and pictures by European women invited to visit Ottoman harems presents a different world. Their harems, although with occasional traces of A Thousand and One Nights, mainly portray dignified and respectable home environments. But it was writings and portrayals by men that dominated the Orientalist discourse, since they responded to the expectations of their western audience, unlike the more realistic ones by women.

Ottoman women and daily life

For the harems women, whose daily recreational pursuits were largely confined to conversation, embroidery, drinking coffee and smoking pipes, receiving guests and holding musical gatherings were occasions that added colour to their lives. In the palace harem there were orchestras and groups of dancers consisting of female slaves, and the female musicians were taught by the most eminent teachers of the time. Singing and playing music was one of the most popular pursuits of women at the palace and the upper echelons of society.

Ottoman women had limited opportunities for activities outside the home. The upper-class women rarely went shopping, most of their needs being met by servants or peddler women. Wedding celebrations and feasts, visits to holy tombs and sufi lodges, and friends and relatives, social gatherings known as 'helva nights', Mevlit ceremonies, weekly visits to the public baths, and above all picnics and country excursions in spring and summer were events that took women out of their homes. Western men, who had to make do with second-hand accounts of Ottoman harem life, only had the opportunity to see these women for themselves when they were traveling from place to place, shopping in the company of eunuchs, or enjoying country outings.

The most popular excursion places were Kağıthane on the Golden Horn and Göksu and Küçüksu on the Asian shore of the Bosphorus. Pleasing scenes of women in gauzy yashmaks and colourful outer robes promenading in their carriages, strolling in meadows, or being rowed along in graceful caiques, lacy sunshades in hand, were a favourite topic for western painters.

Women, costumes, portraits

Portraits focusing on women's costume form an important category of these pictures by western artists. Although the artists did not have the opportunity to observe Ottoman women at home, they could see women's clothing for themselves, and many of them purchased Ottoman garments to take back home with them and used these as studio accessories. Consequently we find many 18th and 19th century paintings of real European women or imaginary women dressed in Ottoman costume. Among diplomatic circles in Istanbul it was fashionable to be portrayed in Ottoman costume.

Painters unable to depict Ottoman women in indoor attire from life, instead portrayed Greek, Armenian, Jewish and Levantine women in such scenes. In fact, however, Ottoman palace women and those of the upper classes were keen to have their portraits painted, and western women painters such as Henriette Brown and Mary Walker were in popular demand. However, when these portraits showing them dressed in European clothing of the latest fashion were completed, they were not hung in full view, but concealed in cupboards or by a curtain so that the male servants of the household should not see them.


Since its earlier periods, The Ottoman Empire, has established intense relations with European states. Urged by curiosity and a certain degree of fear at times, the West's efforts, on the other hand, to be acquainted with and understand this government of immense military power and source of political authority, emerged as a political exigency. Undoubtedly, the encounter of markedly different cultures bore the most enduring fruit in the realm of arts.

Wars, the increase of trade as a means for mutual prosperity, and conflicts of status were the most significant factors behind the intense traffic of diplomacy. Sprawled across a vast geography, the Ottoman Empire welcomed more ambassadors than it sent to other countries, particularly until the 19th century; these ambassadors were embraced, per Ottoman tradition.

In turn, western ambassadors were prompted by the need to document the cities, particularly İstanbul, social structure, customs, administrative and military organization of the Ottoman Empire; apart from the reports they drafted upon their return, they also took advantage of the gifts and paintings they carried along. Often presumed to be true-to-life visual documents, such paintings thus became the most evident expressions of respectability and social status, and attained a special place and meaning, partly due to their potential to address the masses.

The works that ambassadors commissioned to artists they added to their retinue en route to the East or to their local counterparts they encountered during service, evolved into books with engravings or collections decorating the walls of European chateaus, and served as source material for works by other artists, thus generating a large visual repertoire on the Ottoman world. Ottoman ambassadors sent to European countries were subjects of monumental portraits painted by leading European artists of the period, immortalizing these historic visits.

This selection from the Suna and İnan Kıraç Foundation Orientalist Painting Collection not only allows us to travel across the meandering paths of diplomatic history under the guidance of art, but it also introduces us to intriguing personalities. Ambassadors and painters continue to communicate with us through a silent yet equally rich and colorful language of expression, present their reports and letters, and share with us their respective periods, worldviews, travels and experiences, as well as the ceremonies they joined. Listening to their extraordinary tales, it is impossible not to be enraptured by the splendor and elegance of a lost age.

Ambassador's Portrait

Often used as one of the clearest indications of status and identity in western art since Antiquity, portraits also served a similar purpose for ambassadors. Furthermore, documenting the physiognomy of ambassadors through portraiture was also regarded as a precautionary measure against espionage. Portraits were painted of European ambassadors sent to the Ottoman Empire as high-level officials that have attained great respectability; artists to which these portraits were commissioned strived to reflect not only the physiognomy of the ambassadors, but the power and authority of the state and the ruler they represented.

The Ottoman State's political, military, commercial, and cultural relations with European states gained momentum from the 18th century onwards. In turn, the visits Ottoman ambassadors paid to western countries accelerated the spread of the Turquerie fashion of the period. While portraits of Ottoman ambassadors painted by renowned artists of the countries to which they were assigned served to honor the Ottoman Sultan and his representative, they also nurtured the West's penchant for exoticism.

There is no doubt that the ever-changing trends, fashions, as well as the purpose of diplomatic visits and political relations were reflected in the portraits. For example, while Kozbekçi Mustafa Ağa, who was sent to Sweden to collect debts, is portrayed standing -like a western emperor-, Yusuf Agâh Efendi, who left for England in the late 18th century as the first permanent ambassador of the Ottoman Porte, is depicted entirely in an eastern pose with the rosary beads he holds in his hand against a western background. When French Ambassador Comte de Vergennes commissioned portraits of himself and his wife in Ottoman attire per the Turquerie fashion, he was depicted in an eastern pose, thereby clearly emphasizing that he served as ambassador in İstanbul.

Paintings depicting the audience of European ambassadors at the Ottoman Palace constitute a special group of works that not only demonstrate a diplomatic event and reflect court traditions and officials in a range of attires, but they also act as portraits of foremost individuals, such as the sultan and the grand vizier. Borne directly out of and as a consequence of the realm of ambassadorial service, the best-known examples of this genre have been executed by Jean-Baptiste Vanmour.

Ambassador's Artist

Paintings by artists under the patronage of western ambassadors mainly carried weight as visual documents at times, whereas in other instances, they were appreciated as works that commemorated this prestigious service, popularizing and transmitting the name of each ambassador from one country or generation to the next. It is possible to assume that the Ottoman scenes Hans Ludwig von Kuefstein -the Holy Roman Empire's ambassador to the Ottoman Porte- commissioned were documentation-oriented works when they were initially executed.

On the other hand, Recueil Ferriol, the book of engravings that Marquis Charles de Ferriol had published based on the paintings of Jean-Baptiste Vanmour had a considerable impact; not only did the book immortalize the ambassador's legacy, but it influenced other artists with the subsequent editions released in different countries at different times.

As of the 18th century, western artists living in İstanbul became an indispensible part of the European way of social life developed around the embassies in Pera. Conceived as a "suburb of Paris," this western setting provided painters with a milieu from which they received commissions that enabled them to meet their social needs and thus sustained their life in İstanbul.

The interest ambassadors such as Choiseul-Gouffier and Robert Ainslie had in the archaeology and picturesque views of Antiquity during the second half of that century, as well as the paintings they commissioned and books they published in line with their world view reflecting the ideology of the Enlightenment, appear to be competing with one another as the harbingers of 19th-century Romanticism.

By the 19th century, western ambassadors assumed the role of patrons for Orientalist painters in İstanbul, such as Fabius Brest or Fausto Zonaro, who ventured out towards the exotic East independently of a diplomatic entourage. Similar, for example, to his painting that depicts British ambassador Sir Philip W. Currie's daughter in a palanquin to be used on her wedding ceremony, Zonaro received commissions from ambassadors and ambassadorial circles prior to becoming Abdülhamid II's court painter, and he was introduced to the Ottoman Palace by way of Russian ambassador Aleksandr Nelidov.


An Ottoman intellectual raised by the Tanzimat Era… An exceptional personality, who made substantial, diversified and lifelong contributions to various fields of culture and arts, such as painting, archaeology, museology, and art education.

More than 100 years after his death, the legacy Osman Hamdi Bey left behind lives in the works of academics, institutions, and museums. He continues to make headlines, draw attention, be heard, and become the topic of heated debates. This special section dedicated to Osman Hamdi Bey at the Sevgi and Erdoğan Gönül Gallery of Pera Museum not only displays different aspects of his impassioned relationship with the art of painting through his works included in the Suna and İnan Kıraç Foundation Collection, but it also pays tribute to his multifaceted personality.


WEB SITE : Pera Museum

E-Mail :
Phone : +90 212 334 9900
Fax : +90 212 245 9512

These scripts and photographs are registered under © Copyright 2017, respected writers and photographers from the internet. All Rights Reserved.


Tepebaşı, Beyoğlu - Istanbul - Turkey

GPS : 41°01'54.4"N 28°58'30.1"E / 41.031788, 28.975019

Pera Museum / Kutahya Tiles And Ceramics photo peramuseum_tiles129.jpg


Visiting Hours : Tuesday to Saturday 10:00 - 19:00 / Sunday 12:00 - 18:00. The museum is closed on Monday.


The Pera Museum, which opened its doors in early June 2005, is the first step of a comprehensive cultural endeavor that the Suna and İnan Kıraç Foundation has launched at this distinguished venue in the city for the purpose of providing cultural service on a variety of levels.

An historical structure which was originally constructed in 1893 by the architect Achille Manoussos in Tepebaşı (İstanbul's most prestigious district in those days) and which was, until rather recently, known as the Bristol Hotel, was completely renovated to serve as a museum and cultural center for the project. Transformed into a fully-equipped modern museum, this venerable building is now serving the people of İstanbul once again.

The first and second floors of the Pera Museum house three permanent collections belonging to the Suna and İnan Kıraç Foundation, with the Sevgi and Erdoğan Gönül Gallery on the second floor. The third, fourth, and fifth floors are devoted to multipurpose exhibition spaces. There is an auditorium and lobby in the basement and on the ground floor are the reception desk and Perakende - Artshop and a cafe.

A large part of the first of the two museum floors above the ground floor displays choice examples from the foundation's collection of Anatolian Weights and Measures for the benefit of those who are in love with history and archaeology. Made from many different materials using many different techniques, these objects show the development of the devices used to weigh and measure in Anatolia since the earliest times.

The Suna and İnan Kıraç Foundation's collection of Orientalist art consists of more than three hundred paintings. This rich collection brings together important works by European artists inspired by the Ottoman world from the 17th century to the early 19th.

This collection, which presents a vast visual panorama of the last two centuries of the Ottoman Empire, includes works by Osman Hamdi, regarded by art historians as the genre's only "native Orientalist" and of course his most famous painting The Tortoise Trainer. Many paintings from the private collections of the late Sevgi and Erdoğan Gönül have also entered the foundation's permanent collection. It is planned to exhibit the collection in the Sevgi and Erdoğan Gönül Gallery dedicated to their name in a series of long-term thematic exhibitions.

 The first of these, which opened in early June 2005, is called "Portraits from the Empire" and consists of portraits of sultans, princes, and other members of the Ottoman imperial family as well as of foreign ambassadors together with other "portraits" in the general sense, showing people from many different periods and walks of life.

In addition to its function as a private museum in which to display the collection of the family, the Pera Museum is also intended to provide the people of İstanbul with a broad range of cultural services as a modern cultural center located in a vibrant part of the city and equipped with multipurpose exhibition spaces, an auditorium and lobby, and activity spaces for visitors.


A large part of the first of the two museum floors above the ground floor in another wing is the foundation's collection of Kütahya Tiles and Ceramics, whose strikingly beautiful pieces seek to shed new light on an area of creativity in our cultural history that is not very well known.

The Collection

The beginnings of the Suna and İnan Kıraç Foundation's Kütahya Tiles and Ceramics Collection date back to the 1980s, and over the years it has grown to become one of the most outstanding collections of its kind. Today the collection consists of over 800 remarkable pieces representing various periods, especially the 18th - 20th centuries. The limited number of pieces on display have been chosen to give a general idea of the collection and the craftsmanship of Kütahya ceramics.

After İznik, Kütahya was Ottoman Turkey's most important centre of ceramic production. Thanks to abundant deposits of clay in the area, ceramics were made here in large quantities in Phrygian, Hellenistic, Roman and Byzantine times, and the traditional techniques of this art have survived to the present day. Although little research into ceramics produced in Kütahya during the early Ottoman and pre-Ottoman Turkish periods has as yet been carried out, recent finds and publications suggest that the industry essentially parallelled that of İznik.

The earliest known Kütahya ceramics are monochrome glazed bricks decorating the minaret balcony of Kurşunlu Mosque dated 1377, and tiles on the cenotaph and floor of the Tomb of Yakup II of the Germiyanoğlu principality dated 1428 and located in the imaret founded by the same ruler. Kütahya ceramics continued to be manufactured over the next centuries, the finest quality examples dating from the 17th and 18th centuries.

A decline in quality is observable from the second half of the 18th century, but there was a revival in the late 19th century, and with state support during the second quarter of the 20th century, this traditional ware has survived to the present day.

Kütahya ceramics stand somewhere between İznik ceramics, which primarily represented Court Art, and Çanakkale ceramics, which are usually regarded as 'Folk Art. The potters of Kütahya produced a wide range of tiles for architectural decoration and household pottery that was sold widely throughout the country. In terms of both the volume and continuity of production, Kütahya ceramics are a very significant area of Ottoman craftsmanship.

Forms and Motifs

Stylised floral motifs, religious motifs and human and animal figures decorate most of the 18th century tiles and ceramics in the Suna and İnan Kıraç Foundation's Kütahya Tiles and Ceramics Collection. The pieces dating from this period have a white or cream coloured paste, white slip and transparent glaze. The motifs are painted underglaze in green, turquoise, yellow, cobalt blue and, from the mid-18th century onwards, manganese purple, the motifs being outlined in black.

A second group of Kütahya ware consisting of dishes, lemon squeezer, bowls, bottles, plates and cups dating from the 18th century are decorated with stylised flowers, leaves and curling tendrils in cobalt blue, with the occasional addition of yellow, green or turquoise. Ewers and jugs of various shapes and sizes are decorated with cypress tree motifs in relief, circular crosshatched medallions and floral scrolls worked in free brushstrokes.

One of the foremost characteristics of the Ottoman Empire was the tolerant attitude and absence of discrimination on grounds of religion, race or culture. Consequently Muslim and Christian potters work together in Kütahya producing objects designed to meet the needs of both communities. Striking examples in this exhibition are pottery and tiles with motifs relating to the Christian liturgy.

Kütahya's contribution to architectural decoration over the centuries is illustrated by tiles dating from various periods in the last section of the exhibition, showing how Kütahya pottery set its mark to Ottoman society at every level, from coffee cups to monumental building decoration.


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