Paper Marbling

Paper marbling, which has a very special place among Turkish book arts, consists of sprinkling paint with special brushes into water intensified with materials such as tragacanth and transferring the paint shapes onto a paper. Etymologically, the Turkish word for paper marbling which is “ebru” is considered a derivation of the word “ebrî” meaning “cloudy” in Persian or “ebre” meaning cloudy, stranded fabric or paper in Jagatai.

Art historians indicate that paper marling art was performed with the same techniques in 8th century in China, 12th in Japan and mid-16th in India. The oldest paper ever documented nowadays is within a work of art dating back to circa 1519 called Mecmûatü'l-Acâib which is at the Istanbul University Library. Another one is in the literary work of Arifi called Guy-i Çevgan (1539) at the Topkapı Palace Museum.

Paper marbling, similarly with every classic Ottoman art was taught through master and apprentice method. It was traditionally only used on the shelves of hüsn-i hat boards, on the illuminations and as an endpaper within bindings. One of the most important characteristics of the Turkish paper marbling tradition is the use of special brushes made of horse hair and natural paint that doesn't dissolve nor contains acid or casein.  Some of the paper marbling styles are; battal (large), somaki (porphyry), neftli battal, serpmeli (sprinled) battal, gel git (tide), taraklı (splayed), kumlu (sandy), hatib.

Currently paper marbling art is performed with the perspective of abstract painting as an independent art form besides its traditional use.