THE ART OF EBRU
(THE ART OF MARBLING PAPER)
Marbling is briefly described as the art of printing multi-colored
swirled or stnone-like patterns on paper after handmade
natural inks or paints are being dripped or sprinkled with a
handmade brushes onto the surface of the thickened water.
There are different opinions about the origin of the word
“Ebru”. The word “Ebre” which means (in Ēağatay language)
“moire, veined fabric, paper etc.” is believed to have first
come through Silk Road to Iran and then there it changed
into the word “Ebrī” which means “like cloud or cloudy”.
Recorded as “Ebrī” in the oldest Ottoman sources, the word
has been used as “Ebrū” for nearly one century.
whom, when or how Ebrū was started to be practiced is
unknown because of paper was just not durable enough and
also the artists did not sign on their Ebrū papers in the
past. However, some sources indicate that Ebrū was first
practiced in 13. century in Turkestan and then came to
Anatolia via Iran and grew simultaneously along with the
Ottoman Calligraphy during the Ottoman State. It is thought
that the history of this art goes back to the old times
according to the oldest example of Ebrū in 1447 A.D. in
Topkapi Place Museum and the treatise entitled as “Risāle-i
Tertīb-i Ebrī” written in 1608 A.D. In the first half of the
Seventeenth Century, Ebrū began to become very well known
and named “Turkish Paper or Turkish Marble paper” all over
Europe, thanks to travelers coming to Turkey. Traditionally
used to line munuscript bindings and on the picture framing
of calligraphies, Ebrū has become completely independent art
in the last fifty years.
While all equipments used in classical Ebrū are natural,
today some artificial ones are replaced with the natural
ones through a movement which started in Europe. Although
difficult we prefer to work in classical manner because it
is one of the main part of the Islamic art as well as
classically made arts are more durable. So we try to use
natural equipments from paints, papers and brushes to water.
Among the great Ebrū masters whose names or works are
available today Mehmed Efendi (nicknamed “Şebek”) who lived
in 17. century, Hatib Mehmed Efendi (d. 1773), Şeyh Sādık
Efendi (d. 1846), Hezarfen Edhem Efendi (1829-1904), Sāmi
Efendi (1838-1912), Aziz Efendi (1871-1934), Necmeddin Okyay
(1883-1976), Abdülkādir Kadrī Efendi (1875-1942), Bekir
Efendi (?), Mustafa Düzgünman (1920-1990).
A SHORT DESCRİPTİON OF THE MARBLING PROCESS
The paints taken from colourful rocks and
soil as well as some plants are squashed with a hand stone
(Desteseng) on a marble plaque. With this process, colors of
ink or paint are made thin to the extend that they float on
the surface of the water. Squashed paints are poured in the
The brushes used in sprinkling paints are
made from rose strip and horshair. The size of the brushes
vary according to the place in which they are used.
thick liquid is made by blending a type of gelatin
(carregeanen) or astragalus with water. Then the water is
poured into tray.
paint is poured in application cans and then water and ox
gall (bile) are added to them.
Then we are ready to begin to sprinkle the
paints and practise “Ebrū” as far as we can imagine.
sticks are used to stir the floating colours and flowers if
desired. The marbling stages of tulip are shown below.
After the patterns are practised in the marbling tank, the
absorbent paper is gently laid onto the surface of the
water. The paper is lifted off, rinsed, and hung up to dry.
by Hicabi Gülgen.