Ottoman art of illumination; one of the most complicated arts ever!

richred90Starred Page By richred90, 26th May 2011 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Guides>Art>Painting

Want me to take you on a journey of pure art? Does it sound confusing when i say Ottoman art? Must be because even here in Turkey simply have no idea what Ottoman art (tezhip) is. İ want to share a summary of what it actually is and how it's done..

Ottoman Art of İllumination

Ottoman art is one of the most ancient art types that has come to this day from the very beginning of Ottoman times that lead us back to centuries ago. İt comes from an Arabic word called 'tezhip' which means applying gold. Reason for this is that pure real gold is used in the painting process. Before this gets really confusing let me start explaining where this art was used:
İt was first a way of decorating the mosques, palaces, Arabic writings,books and to decorate the Sultans orders (ferman) written on long papers making them seem even more beautiful to catch attention. İf you have been to İstanbul you must have witnessed yourself the beauty of the history everywhere. But today it has been carried to a different way: all works are framed and kept more carefully and decorations now aren't done so often around books. At Ottoman times main artists being men, they were chosen from the palace and were working in the workshop altogether. Today it is mostly performed by ladies who have more time than men.

How it is performed.

İt is very hard to explain how it is done by writing it down but i will try explaining without getting too lost in details: first of all the artist to be must be trained at least a year, like i was, before getting to start the real work. İt is not that easy; you must be using the brush and drawing the motifs very easily and fast so time is necessary before you can really begin. Gold is in thin leaves and is beaten in a cup with Arabic gum until it is creamy then can be applied on the cardboard. Main material you will be using to decorate is gold then followed by: gouache color, ink and so on. Another important point is that tezhip artists today don't write the arabic writing in the middle. İt is written by other artists called 'hattat'. We simply purchase the 'hat' (center arabic writing) from them paying the amount they want. After sticking it on the cardboard we choose, we start designing the decoration in our head. After drawing it on a transparent paper with pencil if the measurements are correct and motifs fit well enough it is transferred to the carboard and so begins the painting process.

How long it takes to actually finish one work

This is one of the questions that i get so often. Answer is simple: the more you work the faster it finishes. İt differs for everyone since after you get tired, even if you want to keep doing, your hand will start shaking, you eyes will hurt and you will have a headache. Some people can do up to 7 hours a day while some 3. So this affects the finishing time. But approximately it takes a couple of months to finish a work, complicated ones can last up to a month. But when it is done no doubt it looks beautiful.

A long, hard and ambitious journey

Tezhip is not just a simple hobby because it requires time, skill and patience. There are moments when it gets really tough and it won't entertain you all the time. To do it you must really want it because like i said before; it is really hard to perform and takes a lot of time before you even start. Never giving up is so important. There are so many techniques that even when you are staring at one of these pictures i have placed so far you are seeing around 5-10 different techniques in it. Each one is a lesson and takes around a month to learn. But it is an endless flow on imagination and projection. One of the most ancient and beautiful art type carried on to this day still alive, still performed and still unique. Can't be replaced by anything and only hands can make these beauties. İ love arts and i always will. Wishing you a beautiful life..


Art, Artists, Ottoman, Ottoman Empire, Painting

Meet the author

author avatar richred90
İ am 21 an online psychology student and have been performing Ottoman art for 5 years. İ am interested in cooking, art, cosmetics and skin-care.. My interest for writing is endless and i love sharing!

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author avatar Mark Gordon Brown
26th May 2011 (#)

Fantastic introduction to Ottoman Art, I would love to see you add more tags (as I suggested in the publication notes) so you get more views.

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author avatar Zeinab
17th Dec 2013 (#)

So these are very fantastic..thanks alot

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