Glass Art in the Ottoman Empire
The oldest documents on Turkish glasswork date back to the 16th century. These documents are the accounting books of the Süleymaniye Mosque and its complex. The most important works are in the scenes shown in the miniature manuscript called Surname-i Hümayun, which is exhibited in the Topkapı Palace Museum today. The glass masters and the tools they used in these scenes show the value of the Ottoman glass art period. During this period, glass artists were called “camgeran” and chief artists were called “sercamger”. The masters would control the quality of the products produced, identify the unsuitable ones and punish those who produced them by breaking these products. At the same time, all camgerans were under the auspices of the sultan.
Glasses made in the Ottoman Empire in the 17th century were prepared as daily use items. Glasses such as storage containers, kitchen utensils, bottles and jars were produced. In addition to these products, oil lamps used in circumcision festivities began to be produced in the same period.
In the 18th century, a Mevlevi dervish named Mehmet Dede went to Italy and started working as a glass artist there. When he returned to the Ottoman Empire, Beykoz Work had produced glass. As the glass of Beykoz Work turns red when held up to the light, crystal bowls, pans, glasses etc. its use was widespread. At the same time, the decorations of the mosques, which were at the forefront of Ottoman architecture, were enriched with the use of glass. In 1848, by the order of Sultan Abdülmecit, a glass workshop was established in Paşabahçe, a district of Beykoz, and another glass art, Çeşm-i Bülbül and Beykoz Work glasses were brought to the present day.
In the 1st International Great Exhibiton of the Works of Industry of All Nations exhibition held in London in 1851, more than 22.000 items were exhibited with competitors from many countries. About 700 manufacturers from the Ottoman Empire went to this exhibition and competed with many products. The Ottomans returned from this fair, which remained open for 6 months, with many big medals and incentive awards.