Turkish culture & arts. Ebru, the mesmerizing Turkish art of marbling.
Ebru, one of the Turkish traditional forms of art, is simply creating paintings produced in a trough filled with water mixed with a mucillagenous solution. The colours made of natural pigments mixed with ox-gall are sprinkled over the surface of the mixture with brushes made of rose stalks and horse hair. Pins, needles and combs are used to swirl the colours into one another to produce a design, usually flowers, on the surface of the mixture. Paper or fabric is laid carefully on the design, and as the paper is lifted from the surface, the design transfers to the paper.
The art of marbling is a dance of vibrant colors and colorful patterns that vividly represents Turkey. The first varieties of Ebru appeared in Central Asia in the 13th century and expanded throughout Anatolia. Different civilizations generated a plethora of diverse structures, and Turkish calligraphers were among the artists who polished techniques and created new forms. Hundreds of distinct colors and variations are synthesized in the technique of marbling, and a magical harmony is formed, as if color pigments are dancing on the water.
Marbling is a decorative craft that is created by passing patterns and forms generated on paper with properly prepared pigments through condensed water. Although marbling is one of Central Asia’s and Anatolia’s most prominent paper decoration techniques, it is unclear when it initially arose and was used. The oldest known example was discovered in the 1500s, according to legend.
For the application, a rectangular, large, and flat container has been chosen. The tragacanth gum, which is a type of white gum, is mixed with a specified amount of water in a bowl. This mixture is stored for about 12 hours, stirring every now and then. Meanwhile, edible bovine (bile) is used to spread the paints on the water without allowing them to settle, as it expands the surface and contains bile acids. More bile can be added if the paint needs to spread out a lot more in the water.
The trapped water is poured from a thick cloth bag into the container where the original marbling will be formed when the tragacanth and water mixture has been maintained for a sufficient amount of time. Here’s when art comes into play!
Paint is poured into the water and into the container with the use of a brush made from horsetail. The colors are spread out in the water depending on the amount of bile in them. The bile allows paints to spread without mixing, but the Ebru artist decides how much spreading is done. When the patterns and shapes in the container have reached the desired result, the marbled paper is slowly put into the water from the right and left.
The artist grabs the paper from the corners and leaves it to dry on the side in the shade around 20 seconds after the embroidery on the water passes on the paper. The artwork is now complete!
Different countries, cultures, individuals, and their experiences have all had a role in the evolution of this field of art. One of the geographies that provides the most variation to this evolution is Anatolian lands. One of the distinguishing characteristics of marbling is that it reveals the artist’s deepest feelings and inventiveness in a way that the techniques utilized cannot duplicate.
The art of marbling was added to the UNESCO Lists of Intangible Cultural Heritage in 2014. Exhibitions and workshops are available for individuals who want to learn more about this vibrant world or even try their hand at it.
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