Four sherds of Iznik ware with green and blue handpainted decoration
Iznik fritware dish
  • Material – Earthenware
  • Place of Origin – Turkey
  • Date – Late 15th-early 18th century
  • Location – Collections

Iznik was the main distribution center for high quality tin-glazed earthenware pottery made in modern day western Turkey from the late 15th century until the beginning of the 18th century.  Thus, the ware type has been given the generic name “Iznik.”  It is also known as fritware or stonepaste because of quartz sand and finely ground glass inclusions in the clay.  Iznik vessels were formed, coated with a white slip, bisque fired, decorated, and finally, glost fired. The ware flourished in the 1500s, and gradually began to decline in quality and quantity from the beginning of the 17th century until 1719, when production ceased.


Fabric: The fabric is chalky, compact, and buff colored. Visible under magnification are numerous quartz sand inclusions.  A large chuck of glass is evident in one James Fort sherd. 

Glaze: Sherds are glazed with lead glazes containing tin oxide, which appear matt and cream-colored.  Surfaces, slightly iridescent from oxidation while in the ground, are chalky textured.   

Decoration: The dish sherds excavated at Jamestown are hand painted under the glaze with clouds and scrolls in polychrome colors of sage green from copper oxide, pastel purple from manganese oxide, and blue from cobalt oxide.

Form: Found in a flanged rim dish form, the Jamestown examples were recovered from features dating ca. 1607-1610, and also from James Fort soil redeposited in 1862 during the Civil War. Only a few sherds have been recovered at Jamestown.

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