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Assoc. Prof. Nurdan YILMAZ ARSLAN*

*Marmara University Faculty of Fine Arts, Ceramics and Glass Department


The Industrial Revolution of the Republican era, which is in our memories and became a brand with the slogan of "Sümerbank-The State in Industry" and whose production processes we witnessed, shaped the socio-cultural economy and economic development of the country,and gave a significant impetus to the development of education, science, art and technology in parallel.

It would be more accurate to consider and examine the porcelain production, which covers our subject and is in the field of ceramics with its general definition, within the scope of the development projects of the Republican Period. These projects, which aim to use the existing raw material resources of the country, were implemented in 1933 with the directive of Atatürk. Many of the factories established under the roof of “Sümerbank” and “Şişecam” are ceramic and porcelain factories. These developments, which are needed by the country that has just came out of the war enabled the establishment of factories for production in every field, and accelerated the transition from agricultural society to industrial society, and shaped modern living spaces with the urbanization process.

During the establishment of the young Turkish Republic educated workforce such as engineers, designers, artists and technicians who will work in the factories moved to a different dimension with the employment of young people graduated from technical vocational high schools, colleges, art, design and new engineering faculties. In this context, young people who graduated from these faculties and those who were sent abroad with Sümerbank, Etibank and MEB scholarships and received engineering education began to work in these factories and newly opened universities.

The basic production units, which form the backbone of the industrializing Republic of Turkey, were put into operation by using domestic raw material resources. The ceramic industry, which was opened under the roof of “Sümerbank” at that time and met the ceramic needs of almost 80% of the country, has brought new modern living spaces together with the technical and aesthetic design products of ceramics and porcelain. On the other hand, “porcelain, which has been used in daily life by palaces and nobles in Europe and our country for centuries and is a status indicator. Unique“Sümerbank Porcelains” will enter every home, and society will meet with beautiful porcelain tableware soon. The developments that gained momentum after 1950 also revived the private ceramics industry, and domestic design products began to take place in world fairs. It is necessary to read the achievements of the Industrial Revolution not only with its economic dimensions, but also with its sociological dimensions. This process, which turned its own resources into production, not only revitalized the country's economy and industry, but also revolutionized the socio-cultural identity of the society in the context of city-culture identity and memory by bringing its achievements such as education, science, art and technology into life.

Key Words: Porcelain, ceramic, industry, production, design


Although there are many technical and scientific definitions of porcelain today, most commonly can be defined as products that are in the ceramic group, having a white firing feature with non-porous, glassy and transparent structure.

It is known that porcelain was first produced in China during the Tang dynasty, between 618- 907 AD. Porcelains with a hard, whitish and translucent appearance, formed by high-grade firing of a clay prepared from white kaoin and hammered granite compositions. They were named as "Çini" or "Chinese Work" because they were first produced in China. (Kalyoncu. 2015. P:22) In Europe, it is estimated that the word porcelain derives from the Latin word "porcellana", which means oyster. According to another recipe, it is estimated that this name was given to the porcelain brought to Europe from China by sea, by the Venetian traveler Marco Polo, to describe the porcelain-like structure of a shell used in China as a coin. The word porcelain has passed to us from the French word “porcelaine”. Porcelain production and technology, which accelerated with the Industrial Revolution in Europe and in our country, is called with different names today according to its usage area and purpose. These products, produced under the name of hard and soft porcelain, are defined by dividing into groups according to their technical and aesthetic characteristics, raw materials they contain and firing temperatures.


The story of ceramics, which is as old as the history of humanity from the Neolithic Age to the present and whose production processes have been witnessed for thousands of years, continues to evolve. Ceramics, both as an item of use and as an art object, takes place in our lives with all its contents. Chinese ceramic masters, who discovered the rich raw material resources suitable for porcelain production in China and found porcelain with high degree mud recipes, brought together their old ceramic cultures started with traditional tea pots with porcelain.

Although there are opinions that the first journey of porcelain from China to Europe started with the Silk Road in 1100 AD, it is known that the first porcelain trade was made by the Venetian merchant Marco Polo in 1295 by sea trade. Blue-white Chinese porcelain imported from China to Europe was highly appreciated by the wealthy European nobility and was highly demanded. Admiration for Chinese porcelain accelerated the efforts of European investors to produce porcelain. After the porcelain factory that started production in Italy for the first time in 1575.

Japanese porcelains that emerged in the 16th century increased the interest in Japanese porcelain in Europe and the world, both with their design and underglaze and overglaze colored pattern features. Clay recipes, which were developed by J. Frederich Böttger in Germany in 1709 and called reinforced tiles, were used in porcelain production. Royal porcelain factories established in many European countries such as Germany and France in the 1700s continued production for many years, and porcelain factories spread rapidly to all European countries with the Industrial Revolution.

The development of porcelain art and technique in Japan started with the blue-white porcelain technique known to the Korean ceramicists who came to the Arita region after the ceramic wars at the end of the 16th century. Starting from 1646, Arita porcelains with colorful decorations were transported to Europe from the port of Imari by Dutch ships. (Arcasoy, Başkırkan.s:170).

It is known that designer John David, who worked at the Meissen Porcelain Factory in Germany between 1720-1739, researched and discovered the intricacies of the blue-white underglaze decor technique used in Chinese porcelain. Although the cobalt decorated porcelains produced in Europe in these years initially reflected the influence of East Asia and China, this situation was reconsidered and studied by European designers, resulting in the emergence of the European pattern style in porcelain products. Garnet apple, Asthene flowers, plant and onion decor patterns are now applied to all porcelains produced in Europe. Blue-white porcelains with underglaze onion decor produced in the Czech Porcelain Factory established in 1875 is being produced today as "Original Bohemian Porcelains". (Arslan, 2011s:93)

In addition to the classical porcelain production, which was established and produced centuries ago in the world and became a brand, new production and design technologies that gained momentum in the 20th century have greatly expanded the purpose and usage areas of porcelain. Contemporary porcelain designs, which are changing with the appreciation of the public, are also taking place in world fairs all over the world.


3.1. Porcelain Production In Ottoman Period

The first porcelain production in our country is dated a hundred years after the Industrial Revolution that took place in Europe. It is known that at the beginning of the 18th century, porcelains bearing the stamp of "Alimizade Ömer Efendi" were produced in districts of Istanbul such as Galata, Balat and Beykoz. Sultan Abdülmecit (1839-1861) brought these workshops together in order to produce better quality porcelain and built a factory near Beykoz İncirli village in 1845. In this factory, original works were created that bear the stamp of "Eser-i Istanbul", which are studied by taking European porcelains as an example, and which appeal to Turkish taste. (Kalyoncu. 2015. p:22)

The idea of establishing Yıldız Porcelain factory actually started to take shape with the interest of the palace in porcelain years ago.The Chinese and Japanese porcelains, which entered the Ottoman palace for use in the 14th century, met the needs of the palace for many years. However, at the beginning of the 17th century, the admiration for the French Sevres porcelain changed the preference of the palace. These products, produced by the special order of the palace dynasty and fully addressing the socio-cultural structure of the palace, enabled the establishment of a porcelain factory in our country in later times. The interest in French porcelain began with the establishment of Yıldız Tile Factory by Sultan Abdülhamit II in 1892-1894.

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The factory was established to revive the Ottoman tile art and to meet the porcelain needs of the palace and its surroundings, the technology imported from the French Serves and Limoges factory. Expert personnel and tile molds were brought and production was started. Products such as vases, wall plates, writing and tableware, bowls with lids, business card plates, dishes, ashura trays, sugar bowls, tea and cup sets were produced.

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Famous designers and painters such as Halid Naci, A. Nikot, Ömer Adil, Ali Ragıp, F. Zonaro Tharet, who were brought from abroad and domestically, worked in the factory at that time. These East-West synthesis products played an important role in introducing Turkish tile art to the world.

In this sense, it is not very possible to put Ottoman porcelains in a single mold. It is possible to examine many different details together, from Baroque to Rococo, from ancient motifs to Ottoman motifs, in these works in which various styles are used together as decoration and form. (Figure:3-4-5-6) On the works, there are mostly depictions inspired by nature. In addition to a flower or bird motif, we see an Istanbul landscape and a forest landscape in tile paintings.” ( These porcelains, which are in the Topkapı Palace museum today, allow us to get to know the 19th century Ottoman palace life.

3.2. Investigation Of Porcelain Production In The Republican Period

Yıldız Tile and Porcelain Factory, which continued its production from 1894 to 1911 during the Ottoman Period, was closed at the begining of First World War. The factory, which was reopened to provide communication correspondences during the War of Independence, continued production for 2 years for the production of kaolin cups used to connect telegraph wires.

After the proclamation of the Republic, the factory remained idle for many years. In 1957, attempts were made to revitalize the factory and the task of running it was given to Sümerbank. This process, which could be called the ‘Industrial Revolution’ gained momentum with the establishment of the Turkish Republic and ensured the realization of social state projects as well as opening of production-oriented factories that aim to meet the needs of the country in every field. The Public Economic Enterprises Institution, which was established in 1933 with the encouragement and direction of Atatürk, was brought to life under the umbrella of "Sümerbank" and Şişecam. These factories, which started production by using the raw material resources of the country with AR-GE studies, not only revived the country's economy and industry, but made an enlightenment revolution in the socio-cultural identity of cities and society with its kindergartens, schools, social facilities, libraries also. Also in this period, the kaolin factory established in Izmit in 1941 was established to meet the hydrated kaolin needs of newly opened paper mills. This process, which was established under different names and formed the foundations of the modern ceramic industry in our country, gained a significant momentum with the educated workforce in these factories. Later, these developments met with academic art education and enabled young artists-designers who graduated from these schools and young people who were sent abroad with “State Institutions Scholarship” and received engineering education to take up positions in the ceramic industry and universities. This production chain was designed by working with all the details, and valuable engineers and academics of the period, such as Faruk İşman, Hakkı İzzet, Mahmut Erkaya, İhsan Çekmegel, who returned from study abroad at that time, developing porcelain clay with all domestic raw materials. Faruk İşman, who took part in the development period of the ceramic industry with his inventions as both an engineer and a technician, said in an interview, “…We returned to our country in 1958. I was appointed to teach ceramic chemistry and technology courses at the newly opened State Applied School. I worked on porcelain with Turkish raw materials in the chemistry and ceramic laboratory and trial facilities of the newly established Istanbul Porselen Sanayi A.Ş. in Tuzla, I gave practical lessons at the school to train masters… My raw material and porcelain studies continued during the establishment of Eczacıbaşı and Bozüyük Ceramic Factories. ” (Ceramic Magazine. 2000. p:29)

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Factories such as Sümerbank Yıldız Porcelain, Yarımca Porcelain, Kütahya Ceramic Industry, Bozüyük Ceramic Industry, Istanbul Industry Porcelain Factory are just a few of them. On the other hand, porcelain products, which have been a status indicator used by the palace and the nobles in daily life in Europe and our country for centuries, will enter every house in this process, and the society will meet with porcelain products as tableware with "Sümerbank Porcelain".

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Sümerbank Yıldız Porcelain Factory, which started production again in 1957, brought back many of the classic porcelain product designs produced in the Ottoman Period, and continued its production with new tableware designs.(Figure:9-10-11) Many young engineers such as Kazım Çokay, Remzi Arslan, Celal Yıldız, and Cemal Kaya, who returned to Germany with the Sümerbank Institutional Scholarship after 1970 and 80, and returned to the country after studying ceramic engineering, contributed to production with successful R&D studies within the scope of improving porcelain at Sümerbank Yıldız Porcelain Factory. These factories, which provide internship opportunities to young artists and designers studying at the Academy of Fine Arts and the School of Applied Fine Arts, opened their doors after graduation, enabling them to take part in the design and production processes. On the other hand, by taking part in these factories and universities, they contributed significantly to the development of both the Turkish ceramic industry and contemporary Turkish ceramic art.

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Most of us have memories of the working process of these factories. These memories, in which we were involved in the production process, played an important role in shaping identities such as artists, designers, masters, technicians and engineers. In a conversation we had with Mustafa Tunçalp, he worked at Yıldız Porcelain Factory in 1967 and made a "Porcelain Çeşm-i Bülbül" vase in his own words. and that it was given as a gift to Queen Elizabeth of England, who came to visit our country in 1972. The factory, which mainly produces tableware as well as ornaments and special collections, continues until 1994 with the "sales from the factory to the public" store within the factory. The factory, which was transferred from Sümerbank to the Department of National Palaces in 1994, maintains its historical identity as a continuation of Turkish tile and porcelain art.

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The Istanbul Industry Porcelain Factory, which started production in 1960 with a porcelain production capacity of 3200 tons per year, continued its production until 1993 and closed.

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“Although it was decided to establish the Sümerbank Yarımca Porcelain Factory at the end of the 1950s, it started production in 1968. There are many products from tableware to ornaments, sanitary wares and electro porcelain in the production line of this giant factory, which was established on an area of 60000 m2 with the thought of meeting 70 percent of the country's ceramic needs. These manufactured products continued to be produced uninterruptedly for 30 years using the country's raw material resources and were closed in 1998 during the privatization process.” (Batukan,

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“Ceramic artist Safiye Başar, in her exhibition titled “Searching for the Truth” opened in 2019, explains Yarımca Porcelain, which includes 200 female workers in the factory, with its sociological dimension through women. These factories are not just economic values… All factories under the umbrella of Sümerbank have their own culture. These are the structures and values of İzmit which makes İzmit special and enrich it culturally. When women workers come to this factory for the first time and start earning money and gaining economic power, they gain a different perspective on life. The factory should be read through the lives of the workers living there, especially the women workers, and should be discussed in terms of a sociological dimension.” (Batukan, 2019, Aydınlık- Culture &Art).

The technical staff trained in Sümerbank factories played an important role in the establishment of today's Turkish industry. Almost all of the large industrial establishments that exist today have once benefited from Sümerbank factories. Engineers, masters, designers, technicians and workers from Sümerbank were employed in the establishment as well as in the establishment of the factories… Almost all of the founding engineers of the private sector factories established in Turkey after the 50s are of Sümerbank origin. (Oral, 2006, p:77)


For centuries, individuals and societies have been socialized in the context of city-identityculture-memory. All the values and concepts that take us forward from the past to the present connect with our socio-cultural identity and are shaped by the environment we live in. All the gains necessary for the progress of a society that has just emerged from the war have been achieved with the Republican period. Social state projects and revolutions in education and industry gained momentum with a parallel movement and laid the foundations of modern Turkey. Ceramic factories established under the roof of Sümerbank and Şişecam and meeting 80% of the country's ceramic needs are just a few of them. This process, which turned its own resources into production, not only revived the country's economy and industry, but also made an enlightenment revolution in the socio-cultural identity of the society. Our country has experienced full enlightenment with its kindergartens, schools, social facilities, libraries, lodgings, hundreds of scholarships for science and art, and trained staff working in these factories and universities.In addition, it has opened the way for women to socialize and gain economic freedom by introducing them into social life with the job employment created in these factories. “Sümerbank factories”, a social state project that brings our daily needs and physical conditions together with all the possibilities of production, still keep our memory alive. From our shoes to textile products, from porcelain tableware that transforms our modern living spaces, to sanitary ware, from floor and wall coverings to electro porcelain products, it is the true story of the Turkish ceramic industry's transformation to the present day. On the other hand, the art of ceramics, which has existed in Anatolia for thousands of years, has been reshaped by taking the name of a civilization that lived in these lands. As a generation that grew up with the slogan of “Sümerbank-State in Industry”, this process, in which we have completely moved away from the concept of social state and could not produce it, will always remind us how lucky we were once and that we could not make use of it. Just like our education system, which was interrupted by the closure of the Village Institutes in 1954, the factories that changed hands under the name of privatization in 1998 were completely closed when the liberal economy took over the system, disrupting production and the economy. All values and concepts built on the rich achievements of the past will be permanent for thousands of years when science, art and technology meet with the present on the way from traditional to contemporary.


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  • Arslan, N, (2011), “Czech Porcelain Factory Challenges Fast Technology” Ceramic-Turkey Journal of Science, Art, Design and Industry, July-September no:37. 2011. ISSN 1304-6578, s: 92-94

  • Belge, F, Batukan, (2019), Culture and Arts, “Republic Destroyed by Privatization Project-Yarimca Porcelain” p:4

  • Damlıbağ, Fatih, (2011) “Porcelain and Tile Factories in the Ottoman State, (PhD Thesis-Istanbul University, Institute of Social Sciences, Department of Economics)

  • Kalyoncu, Hülya, (2015), “Topkapı Palace Museum-Star Porcelains” Cinius Publications, April 2015, IBBN978-605323-192-9. p:22

  • Küçükerman, Önder, (1987), “The Prestige Technology of World Palaces; Porcelain Art and Istanbul Yıldız Tile Factory”, Sümerbank Publishing House, Istanbul.

  • • Milli /factories/ star genie factory i humayunu, Accessed on: 9 June 2021

  • Meydan, Sinan (2022) “From History to Today with Sinan Meydan" Sözcü/ Agenda/30 January

  • Oral, Atilla, (2006), “Atatürk and Economic Development, Atatürk Era in the History of Turkish Trade and Industry”, Istanbul, Jotun Boya Industry and Trade. Inc. Publication, P:77


  • Image 1: Kalyoncu, Hülya, (2015), “Topkapı Palace Museum-Star Porcelains” Cinius Publications, April 2015, IBBN978-605323-192-9. Q:22, p:255

  • Image 2: Kalyoncu, Hülya, (2015), p:441

  • Image 3: Kalyoncu, Hülya, (2015, p:285

  • Image 4: Kalyoncu, Hülya, (2015), p:132

  • Image 5: Kalyoncu, Hülya, (2015), p:383

  • Image 6: Kalyoncu, Hülya, (2015), p:325

  • Image 7: Private Collection, Istanbul Porcelain Dinnerware

  • Image 8: Special Collection, Yarimca Porcelain Tea Serving Set

  • Image 9: Special Collection, (Servet Yılmaz) Istanbul Porcelain Dinnerware Serving Plate

  • Image 10: Private Collection, (İlhan Yılmaz) Istanbul Porcelain Vase (1980-90)

  • Image 11: Private Collection, Sümerbank Yıldız Porcelain Hand Decor Wall Plate

  • Image 12: Special Collection, Sümerbank Yıldız Porcelain Dinnerware (1980-90)

  • Image 13: Design, Mustafa Tunçalp “Çeşm-i Bülbül Porcelain Vase,” Yıldız Porcelain (1967)

  • Image 14: Special Collection, (Servet Yılmaz) Istanbul Porcelain Food Serving Plate(1975)

  • Image 15: Private Collection, (Hale Duran) Sümerbank Yıldız Porcelain sugar bowl (1980)

  • Image 16: Safiye Başar, September, 2019. “Searching for the Truth Exhibition, Photo: Nurdan Arslan

  • Image 17: Safiye Başar, September, 2019. “Truth-i Search Exhibition, Photo: Nurdan Arslan

  • Image 18: Safiye Başar, September, 2019. “Searching for the Truth Exhibition, Photograph: Nurdan Arslan

  • Image 19: Yarimca Porcelain Catalogue, Archive: Nurdan Arslan

  • Image 20: Special Collection, Yarimca Porcelain Dinnerware Soup Pot

  • Image 21: Special Collection, Yarimca Porcelain Dinnerware Serving plates

  • Image 22: Special Collection (Macide Yılmaz) Sümerbank Yıldız Porcelain Dinnerware (1980)


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