Bursa is known for a good many things, one of which is its handmade, hand-painted ceramic pottery and tilework. When in Bursa, you’ll no doubt notice the colorful plates, bowls, cups, trivets, coasters, table utensils, and figurines of all kinds in shop windows throughout the old city. You may even be enticed to purchase a piece or two for yourself or as a gift for a friend. If you find yourself in Bursa and you’re thinking about buying some Bursa ceramics, here’s a brief guide to help you make your choice.
In Bursa, you can generally find two styles of pottery: Īznik and Kütahya. These styles are named after the cities in which they originated. Īznik, better known to many as Nicaea, was the center of Ottoman pottery and tile manufacturing in the 15th through 17th centuries. Located just an hour east of Bursa’s city center, Īznik has experienced a pottery revival in recent years and this keystone industry is again burgeoning. Kütahya is situated a couple of hours south of Bursa, and its pottery industry dates back to the 16th century. Porcelain and ceramic manufacturing is still one of the city’s main industries today.
When window shopping in Bursa for locally made pottery, here are a few questions you may want to consider:
What’s your style?
In most Bursa shops, you can find Kütahya and Īznik styles for sale.
Kütahya: Textured pottery painted in bright and diverse colors and patterns.
Īznik: Smooth pottery and tiles painted in designs of white and blue, often with splashes of red, often in traditional floral patterns.
What’s your preference for quality and price?
Quartz and clay are the two media used to make Kütahya and Īznik pottery. Quartz is extremely hard and nearly unbreakable, and working with it is labor intensive for potters. These qualities make quartz pieces far more expensive than clay pottery. However, once painted, there is very little visual difference between quartz and clay ceramics.
How would you like to use it?
Bursa ceramics come in all shapes and sizes suitable for all kinds of uses. Plates and dishes are probably the most popular, but bowls, cups, pitchers, trivets, jars, salt shakers, and other types of kitchenware are available. Decorative items such as urns, vases, globes, tiles, figurines, wall art, lamp shades, candle holders, and magnets are commonly found in shops. You can also find personal items such as earrings, pendants, bracelets, and keychains.
Will you serve food from it?
If you plan to use the pottery for cooking or food service, you’ll want to make sure it’s lead-free. Ask before you buy.
Where to buy
If you’re looking for Īznik pottery, probably the best place to buy it is in Īznik, just an hour east of Bursa’s city center. There, you can buy directly from the makers in their workshops and studios. We recommend you start your search in the tile bazaar in the historic 14th-Century Süleyman Paşa Madrasah on Kılıçaslan Caddesi.
If you would rather do your pottery shopping in Bursa, we recommend visiting our friend, Yunus Vurmaz, in his Anatolia Ceramics and Gifts shop in the Yeşil neighborhood near Yeşil Mosque. Yunus’ pottery showroom is a visual smorgasbord of shapes, colors, and sizes. If you would like to buy direct from an artist, visit the lovely family-owned ceramics workshop on the west end of Irgandı Bridge. There are also a couple of workshops in Balibey Han. Other places where you can find locally made pottery and tiles include the souvenir shops in Koza Han, Eski Ayna Kapalı Çarsı in the central bazaar, and next to Tophane Park.