From the Persian for "eyebrow"
August 22, 2015 9:47 AM   Subscribe

Ebru (paper marbling) has a long tradition in Turkey with more than just the feathery peacock pattern on your kleenex boxes. In the gallery at Ebru Atölyesi, some look geologic, some combed, some swirls, even leaves and flowers. Modern patterns exploit turbulence in the bath.

Here are some examples of the process in action, and even an adorable video documenting a commercial operation in 1970s England (spoiler: it's still pretty hands-on, albeit with clever jigs for setting the color. )

If you're wondering about non-western paper marbling, the Japanese art of suminagashi is closely related but also utterly different.
posted by janell (11 comments total) 51 users marked this as a favorite
Oh, these are so beautiful. Thank you for sharing! I particularly love the battal patterns--they remind me of slides of cells in different tissues, in the best possible way.
posted by sciatrix at 10:25 AM on August 22, 2015 [1 favorite]

From the Persian for "eyebrow"

'Fraid not. There is a Persian word ابرو abrū 'eyebrow' (which is related to English brow; it's a good old Indo-European word), but this Turkish word is from Persian آبری abrī 'clouded, variegated' from abr أبر 'cloud' (related to Latin imber 'shower,' Greek ombros, etc.); you can see them both by scrolling down this page of Steingass, and note the phrase abrī kāghiẕ 'clouded paper,' "A kind of thick and shining paper (from Kashmīr)."

Etymological nitpicking aside, this stuff is gorgeous!
posted by languagehat at 10:32 AM on August 22, 2015 [13 favorites]

I was recently in Istanbul and happened to see this being done in a sort of atelier/art school. Amazing stuff and fascinating to watch. I didn't k ow what it was called or how to look it up - thanks!
posted by Emperor SnooKloze at 11:09 AM on August 22, 2015 [1 favorite]

My new passion! It is so much fun - easy to do but hard to do well.

Highly recommend this suminagashi ink set as a starting point.
posted by Sweetie Darling at 11:32 AM on August 22, 2015 [1 favorite]
posted by sparklemotion at 12:09 PM on August 22, 2015 [4 favorites]
posted by sparklemotion
Let me guess. You'd become overcommitted, right?
posted by cardioid at 3:23 PM on August 22, 2015 [4 favorites]

Languagehat, as always, nails it. Just to add to his evidence, paper marbling is called "abr o bad" (cloud and wind) in Persian.
posted by NBelarski at 3:44 PM on August 22, 2015 [1 favorite]

Previously. A gallery. From the Ottomans:
HATIP MEHMET EFENDI – Because he is the inventor of ebru figures created by dropping concentric dyes and reshaping them with a needle, ebru papers containing such figures are called "hatip ebrusu".

HEZARFEN EDHEM EFENDI – He was a carpenter, metal caster, weaver, printer, architect, scientist and a mathematician. He was appointed as the first principal to Sultanahmet School of Crafts in 1869 and it was here that the first lead pipes were cast in Turkey. Producing ebru papers was one of his many talents which made him famous as Hezarfen (owner of a thousand crafts).

NECMEDDIN OKYAY – Before Necmeddin Okyay, we had very primitive flower ebrus. He started a new style in our ebru history by creating flower designs which are admired by the marblers of the world. He is also the inventor of calligraphy with marbling. At the beginning he used to prepare stencils of calligraphies, glue them on the paper to be marbled using gum Arabic which is a very weak adeshive and remove the stencil after the paper has been marbled. Later he noticed that the parts of the paper which has gum Arabic resist the dyes and he started to write with gum Arabic instead of ink.
posted by unliteral at 4:17 PM on August 22, 2015

I love ebru! I want to actually do some.
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 9:09 PM on August 22, 2015

Oh, the perils of a throwaway title! I just got to spend a little time with a marbling bath a couple of weeks ago and had gone looking for how to make the "thistle" pattern. I struck out, but stumbled on this gallery and thought y'all might like it.
posted by janell at 9:39 AM on August 24, 2015 [2 favorites]

I love this stuff! This overlaid pattern reminds me of the wallpaper we had in our mid-'50s breakfast nook.

Since the name is of Farsi origin, I wonder if the method is, too, ultimately. The History section of the website says it originated in Turkistan or maybe Bukhara, but refers to dervish lodge (a religion of Persian origin) and that it "arrived in Anatolia" via the Silk Road. It sorta smells like it might be have Persian origins, but mists of time and all.
posted by Mental Wimp at 3:52 PM on August 24, 2015

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