Look and Think activities should take 5 -10 minutes.

Do activities might take longer depending on the task and how creative you are feeling!

Iznik tile, Unknown maker/s, Turkey, 1575-1600 CE
Buff coloured fritware, coated in a white slip and painted with red, green, blue and black glaze.
21.8 x 21.9 cm, C.41-1924


Can you spot all the natural forms in the design? A blue tulip, some red carnation flowers, and a jagged-edge leaf called a Saz?


Imagine you were making a set of these tiles to decorate a wall. How do you think the patterns would be repeated? 

Try colouring a repeated pattern we created using a tile in our collection. What colours will you use?

Or watch this short film by the Khan academy to find out more about geometry in Islamic art.


Make your own printed repeated pattern inspired by Iznik tiles in our collection, using these easy steps.

Tiny Tweaks – Cut a cardboard template of the carnation of tulip flowers shown in the tile above. Draw around one, then rotate or flip the template and draw around it again. Can you create a pattern using just one shape?

An Islamic Iznik tile with red green and blue decoration of natural forms
Make your own repeated printed pattern

Option 1

You will need: 

  • paper or card to print onto
  • A print roller
  • printing ink
  • a tray or flat dish to roll the printing ink in
  • Polystyrene foam
  • a pencil
  • a wooden spoon
  • Newspaper to cover surfaces ( optional)
  • baby wipes for hands ( optional)


  1. Draw your design onto the polystyrene foam with the pencil making sure you don’t push too hard as it will go all the way through, think about drawing a design that can be rotated and repeated
  2. Squeeze out a little of your printing ink onto your flat tray or surface
  3. Using your roller make it nice and smooth so it is evenly covered
  4. using the roller covered in ink cover your designed polystyrene tile
  5. Turn your tile over and print it onto the paper using the wooden spoon to smooth it down
  6. Repeat steps 3-5 again rotating or repeating your pattern.

Option 2

You will need 

  • Blu-tak
  • A pencil
  • An ink pad
  • paper or card to print onto
  • Newspaper to cover surfaces (optional)
  • baby wipes for hands (optional)


  1. Work your Blu-tack into a flat surface like a tile
  2. Draw out your design on your flattened Blu-tak using pencil ( you could try using different tools to make different marks)
  3. Carefully push your designed tile onto the ink pad so it is evenly covered
  4. Print your covered Blu-tak tile onto paper or card
  5. Repeat steps 3-4 rotating or repeating your pattern.
More information

Ceramic objects with this type of decoration are known as ‘Iznik’ after the town in Turkey where they were first made between 400 and 600 years ago. The craftsmen of Iznik switched from making simple earthenware pottery to elaborately decorated fritware like this. Fritware is clay that has been mixed with quartz or ground up glass so that it goes white when it is fired.

Leaders at the Ottoman Court in Istanbul loved Chinese blue-and-white porcelain, and amassed a large collection of it. The craftsmen of Iznik developed this new style, combining traditional Ottoman patterns and colours with Chinese elements to suit their tastes.

The designs combine traditional Ottoman arabesque patterns (rhythmic patterns that interlace, scroll and are repeated throughout the design) with Chinese elements. From the 16th century, potters in Iznik produced many tiles to decorate imperial buildings and mosques in Istanbul, and many of them can still be seen there today. There was a fashion for floral imagery, such as the roses, tulips and carnations you can see on this tile.

Islamic Art is a general term used to describe works of art and decorated functional objects made throughout the lands where Islam was once or still is a major religious and cultural force. Many themes link objects in our collection, including tiles. For example, calligraphy is a very important art form in the Islamic world. The Qur’an, written in elegant scripts, represents Allah’s—or God’s—divine word. Another characteristic common to Islamic art are geometric patterns, often made up of natural forms , as seen on this tile. The use of geometry is thought to reflect the language of the universe and helps the believer to reflect on life and the greatness of creation. For instance, circles and complex patterns that appear to be never-ending give an impression of the infinite nature of Allah. They also show that in the small you can find the infinite.

You can find other examples of  Iznik and Islamic patterns in our collection database here

Downloadable resource

Download the Iznik Tile Look Think Do.